From the picturesque village of Doradal, Colombia’s own Santorini, we traveled north – following the Magdalena River for quite a while on a schizophrenic road that alternated between a fast and modern four-lane highway and a bumpy two-lane track that was choked with truck traffic. In late afternoon, we fetched up in Bucaramanga, Colombia’s sixth largest city and the capital of Santander department.
Bucaramanga is known as the City of Parks, for good reason.
We might add that it’s also a city of beautiful churches. After a couple of days exploring on foot (our favorite way to experience a place), we had seen many beautiful parques y iglesias. We also enjoyed visiting the city market and the outlying heritage town of Girón.
San Juan de Girón
Situated on the southwestern outskirts of Bucaramanga, Girón was the first Pueblo Patrimonio (officially designated heritage town) we encountered on this trip. This pretty pueblo has roots dating back to the 15th century, and its beautifully preserved historical district is well worth a visit.
Other Things to Do Near Bucaramanga (If They’re Open!)
On our last day in Bucaramanga, we decided to explore a few more of the outlying sights: El Santísimo, billed as the second-tallest statue of Christ in South America, and the nearby Cervecería Clausen, the oldest continuously operating brewery in Colombia. Sadly, both were closed; El Santísimo despite online info the contrary. (Cervecería Clausen’s website clearly states they’re only open on weekends and holidays, so that was our bad.) We also wanted to visit a botanical garden in Floridablanca on the outskirts of Bucaramanga, but it was also inexplicably closed. Oh, well! Lesson learned: call ahead or ask the locals.