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City Center and Plaza
Flag of Popayan.svg
Escudo de Popayan.svg
"The White City"
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Location of the City and municipality of Popayán in the Cauca Department.
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Red pog.svg
Location in Colombia
Coordinates: 2°27′15″N76°36′33″W / 2.45417°N 76.60917°W / 2.45417; -76.60917 Coordinates: 2°27′15″N76°36′33″W / 2.45417°N 76.60917°W / 2.45417; -76.60917
CountryFlag of Colombia.svg  Colombia
Departamento Cauca
Founded13 January 1537
Founded by Sebastián de Belalcázar
  MayorCesar Cristian Gómez Castro
  City483.11 km2 (186.53 sq mi)
1,760 m (5,770 ft)
  City439,257 (Metropolitan)
  Density584.90/km2 (1,514.9/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Payanés
Time zone UTC-05 (EST)
Postal code
Area code(s) +2
Website Official website

Popayán (Spanish pronunciation:  [popaˈʝan] ) is the capital of the Colombian department of Cauca. It is located in southwestern Colombia between the Western Mountain Range and Central Mountain Range. It has a population of 258,653 people, [1] an area of 512 km2, is located 1760 meters above sea level, and has an average temperature of 18 °C.

Colombia Country in South America

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a sovereign state largely situated in the northwest of South America, with territories in Central America. Colombia shares a border to the northwest with Panama, to the east with Venezuela and Brazil and to the south with Ecuador and Peru. It shares its maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Colombia is a unitary, constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments, with the capital in Bogota.

Departments of Colombia department, group of municipalities, in Colombia

Colombia is a unitary republic made up of thirty-two departments and a Capital District. Each department has a Governor (gobernador) and a Department Assembly, elected by popular vote for a four-year period. The governor cannot be re-elected in consecutive periods. Departments are country subdivisions and are granted a certain degree of autonomy.

Cauca Department Department in Andean Region/Pacific Region, Colombia

Cauca Department is a Department of Colombia. Located in the southwestern part of the country, facing the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Valle del Cauca Department to the north, Tolima Department to the northeast, Huila Department to the east, and Nariño Department to the south. Putumayo and Caqueta Departments border the southeast portion of Cauca Department as well. It covers a total area of 29,308 km2 (11,316 sq mi), the 13th largest in Colombia. Its capital is the city of Popayán. The offshore island of Malpelo belongs to the department. It is located in the southwest of the country on the Andean and Pacific regions. The area includes 2.56% of the country.


Popayan downtown ceilings view at night Centro Historico 3.JPG
Popayán downtown ceilings view at night
Popayan evening Atardecer en Popayan 1.JPG
Popayán evening
Purace volcano Volcan Purace from Popayan - 2006.jpg
Purace volcano

The town is well known for its colonial architecture and its contributions to Colombian cultural and political life. It is also known as the "white city" due to the color of most of the colonial buildings in the city center, where several churches are located, such as San Francisco, San José, Belén, Santo Domingo, San Agustín, and the Catedral Basílica Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, known locally as "La Catedral". The city's cathedral was home to the Crown of the Andes, a 16th-century Marianist devotional object featuring emeralds taken from the captured Inca Emperor Atahualpa. It was sold to finance local health care institutions.

Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption, Popayán Church in Popayán, Colombia

The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption also called Popayán Cathedral It is a cathedral church of Catholic worship dedicated to the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Assumption of Popayán.

Crown of the Andes gold highlighted in The MET collection

The Crown of Our Lady of the Assumption of Popayán, known as the Crown of the Andes, is a votive crown originally made for a larger-than-life sized statue of the Virgin Mary in the cathedral of Popayán, Colombia. The oldest parts of the crown are the orb and cross at the top, which date to the 16th century. The diadem was made around 1660, and the arches were added around 1770. The crown is adorned with 450 emeralds, the largest of which is the "Atahualpa Emerald"; this might have belonged to Incan Emperor Atahualpa (1497–1533) and been seized from him when he was captured in 1532 by Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish conquistador. In 1936, the crown was sold by its owners to an American businessman and it has remained in the United States ever since. As of December 2015, the crown belongs to the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Society of Mary (Marianists) Roman Catholic Marian Society

The Society of Mary, a Roman Catholic Marian Society, is a congregation of brothers and priests called The Marianists or Marianist Brothers and Priests. The Society was founded by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, a priest who survived the anti-clerical persecution during the French Revolution. The Society is one of the four branches of the Marianist Family. Along with the other branches, the Marianist Brothers and Priests look to Mary as a model of faith and spirituality. They believe that the best ways to live a spiritual life are to share their faith with others, work with the poor, and educate and nourish the mind, the body, and the soul.

Popayán has been home to seventeen Colombian presidents, as well as noted poets, painters, and composers. The University of Cauca (est. 1827), one of Colombia's oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher education, is located here, so Popayán is also known as the "University City". Nearby is Puracé National Natural Park. The nearest large city is Cali, in the Valle del Cauca Department, north of Cauca.

University of Cauca university

The Universidad del Cauca is a public institution of higher education located in the city of Popayán, capital of the department of Cauca, Colombia. It was created on April 24, 1827 by Decree by the President Francisco de Paula Santander, civil foundation for higher level educational institutions in major cities of the country newly liberated from Spanish rule, for effects of training of citizens who would support the independent national life at all levels, in different areas and activities. It was installed November 11, 1827 and the nationalization was ratified by Law 65 of 1964. It currently has 43 programs undergraduate and 48 programs postgraduate which include 29 specializations, 14 Masters and 5 Ph.D..

Puracé National Natural Park Protected area in Colombia

The Puracé National Natural Park is a national park located in the Andean Region of Colombia, southeast of the city of Popayán in the Cordillera Central range. Its main feature is the active stratovolcano Puracé, one of Colombia's most active volcanoes. Four of the country's most important rivers originate within the area: Magdalena River, Cauca River, Japurá River and Patía River.

Cali City in Valle del Cauca, Colombia

Santiago de Cali, or Cali, is the capital of the Valle del Cauca department, and the most populous city in southwest Colombia, with an estimated 2,319,655 residents according to 2005-2020/DANE population projections. The city spans 560.3 km2 (216.3 sq mi) with 120.9 km2 (46.7 sq mi) of urban area, making Cali the second-largest city in the country by area and the third most populous. As the only major Colombian city with access to the Pacific Coast, Cali is the main urban and economic centre in the southwest of the country, and has one of Colombia's fastest-growing economies. The city was founded on 25 July 1536 by the Spanish explorer Sebastián de Belalcázar.

Much of the city's original splendor was destroyed on 31 March 1983, when an earthquake toppled many buildings. Though many were rebuilt and repaired, the heart of the city still has ruins and empty lots. In 2005, Popayán was declared by the UNESCO as the first city of gastronomy because of its variety and meaning to the intangible patrimony of Colombian culture. [2] The culinary history of the Cauca Department was chosen because it maintains traditional food preparation methods that have been passed down orally for generations. In 2009, UNESCO also declared the Semana Santa processions during Easter Week a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Patrimony of Humanity.[ citation needed ]

1983 Popayán earthquake natural disaster

The 1983 Popayán earthquake occurred on 31 March in Popayán, Colombia. It had a magnitude of at least 5.5 with an epicenter south west of Popayán at a depth of 12–15 kilometers (7.5–9.3 mi). The earthquake killed 267 people and resulted in the passing of new laws requiring earthquake resistant building materials in zones at risk of tremors.

UNESCO Specialised agency of the United Nations

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the successor of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

Easter Festival

Easter, also called Pascha or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.


The word Popayán comes from an indigenous language. There are different theories about the origin of this word, one claims it means: Po: "Two"; pa: "reed"; yan: "village", or; "Two villages with reed roofs". Another theory says that the word Popayán comes from the name of the indigenous cacique , called Payán, who used to live around Eme Hill, nowadays known as Las Tres Cruces Hill. Yet another theory says that according to the historian Arcecio Aragón, the origin of the word Popayán is "Pampayán" from the Quechua language: pampa (valley) and yan (river), thus, the "valley of the river", where "river" refers to the Cauca River.[ citation needed ]

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pre-Columbian inhabitants of North, Central, and South America and their descendants

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the Pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.

A cacique is a leader of an indigenous group, derived from the Taíno word kasikɛ for the pre-Columbian tribal chiefs in the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. In the colonial era, Spaniards extended the word as a title for the leaders of practically all indigenous groups that they encountered in the Western Hemisphere. In Spanish America, Brazil, Spain, and Portugal, the term also has come to mean a political boss or leader who exercises significant power in the political system known as caciquismo.

Cauca River river in Colombia

The Cauca River is a river in Colombia that lies between the Occidental and Central cordilleras. From its headwaters in southwestern Colombia near the city of Popayán, it joins the Magdalena River near Magangué in Bolívar Department, and the combined river eventually flows out into the Caribbean Sea. It has a length of 965 km (600 mi) to its junction with the Magdalena, for a total length of 1,350 km (840 mi). from origin to seamouth. The river is under the supervision of the Corporación Regional del Cauca and the Corporación Autonoma Regional del Valle del Cauca, and is navigable for 640 km (400 mi) above its junction with the Magdalena.


Colonial era

Popayan downtown Centro Historico 2.JPG
Popayán downtown

No records exist of the pre-Hispanic history of the indigenous village of Popayán, but on 13 January 1537 the Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar arrived in Popayán. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Popayán was administered by an appointed governor under the jurisdiction of the Royal Audience of Quito.

The Pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continent, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during the Early Modern period.

<i>Conquistador</i> soldiers, explorers, and adventurers primarly at the service of the Spanish Empire, and also to the Portuguese Empire

Conquistador is a term widely used to refer to the knights, soldiers and explorers of the Spanish Empire, although it is sometimes used also for the Portuguese Empire in a general sense. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Asia, conquering territory and opening trade routes. They colonized much of the world for Spain and Portugal in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

Sebastián de Belalcázar Spanish conquistador

Sebastián de Belalcázar was a Spanish conquistador. De Belalcázar, also written as de Benalcázar, is known as the founder of important early colonial cities in the northwestern part of South America; Quito in 1534 and Cali, Pasto and Popayán in 1537. De Belalcázar led expeditions in present-day Ecuador and Colombia and died of natural causes after being sentenced to death in Cartagena, at the Caribbean coast in 1551.

Popayán was a very important town during the colonial period because of its location between Lima, Quito and Cartagena. Even after the discovery of the Pacific Ocean, Popayán remained a transfer point for gold and other riches going to Cartagena on their way to Spain. Popayán also served as a colonial mine, and produced various denominations of gold escudo coins and silver reales from 1760 through 1819; it continued producing coinage for the new Republic of Colombia after 1826. [3]

Popayan downtown Centro Historico 1.JPG
Popayán downtown

The city is the home of an ancient pre-Hispanic pyramid known as El Morro del Tulcán, already abandoned when the first Spanish arrived. Analyses of dental samples have revealed that individuals buried there probably belonged to the upper class of their society.[ citation needed ]

Popayán has been destroyed by several earthquakes. The most recent and destructive lasted eighteen seconds and occurred on 31 March 1983. The reconstruction of the colonial city took more than ten years and today it is still possible to see some lots that have not been rebuilt. The first earthquake seismic design code was established in Colombia as a consequence of this earthquake.

Colonial city

Popayán's historic downtown includes examples of colonial architecture which has been preserved for more than four centuries. The cobblestone streets were almost all paved in 1937; however, a few projects currently seek to recover the old city's original look.[ citation needed ]

Places of interest

El Morro, in the background El Morro de Tulcan.JPG
El Morro, in the background

El Morro del tulcán

El morro del tulcán is the main archaeological site of Popayán. It consists of a truncated pyramid built between 500 and 1600 A.C., a period known as late chiefdom societies. To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the city's founding, a monument was erected in 1937 in honor of city founder Sebastián de Belalcázar, with an equestrian statue by Spanish artist Victorio Macho.

Francisco José de Caldas Auditorium

Better known as the Paraninfo, this imposing mid-18th-century building was part of the Dominican order monastery until 1826. It was first built with a mud and straw roof, then reinforced over the years with rammed earth and tile. In 1827 Simón Bolivar declared it a property with historic heritage value, when it was already a two steps hose[ clarification needed ] in front of the Santo Domingo plaza. The last great governor of Cauca, Don Miguel de Arroyo Hurtado, made more renovations and reforms that gave it the most current look. When the building was given to the University of Cauca in the early twentieth century, several changes and additional extensions were made, which recovered all the original spaces.

Caldas Park Parque Caldas 1.JPG
Caldas Park

Caldas Park

This park was born at the same time as Popayán in 1537, when the track in grid generated around religious, governmental, and founders buildings.[ clarification needed ] Initially it was a marketplace. In 1538 a trap was placed in the center of the park, where Jorge Robledo and Álvaro Oyón were beheaded. The trap lasted until 1766 when it was replaced by a water faucet, which remained until 1805 when a stone pile was put in its place, but it was removed too in 1910 after the inauguration of the monument to Sabio Caldas, a piece by the French sculptor Raoul Verlet  [ fr ], which has stood there since. A replica of it exists in the Plazoleta de las Nieves in Bogotá. Leafy trees were planted at this time. In May 2007 a proposal by architect Lorenzo Castro aimed to expand the pedestrian zone around the park, and in April 2009 the first phase of the work began.

Humanities Faculty of University of Cauca Unicauca - El Carmen 1.jpg
Humanities Faculty of University of Cauca

University of Cauca

Clock Tower Torre del Reloj de la Catedral.jpg
Clock Tower
Humilladero Bridge El Humilladero.jpg
Humilladero Bridge

The university gathers students from around the country. It was founded in 1827 by decree of General Francisco de Paula Santander. Its motto is Posteris Lumen Moriturus Edat. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the main headquarters have been in the Dominican Order cloister, one of the best examples of religious architecture in the city.

Clock tower

Called "the nose of Popayán" by Guillermo Valencia, the clock tower is a well-known symbol of the city. It was built next to the cathedral between 1673 and 1682 with 96,000 bricks. The clock, made in England, was placed in 1737. Its mechanism operated by the action of two lead weights which were changed by Antonio Nariño in the Colombia independence dispute in 1814, when metal was required to manufacture ammunition.

After the earthquake of 1983, the clock was restored and put back in operation by the same English company that had manufactured it, but it has since stopped working.

Humilladero Bridge

This bridge connects the central and northern zones of the city. It was built in 1873 on arches of brick and masonry. The designs were prepared by the Italian friar Fray Serafin Barbetti and a German engineer whose mummified remains are preserved in the Archdiocesan Museum of Religious Art. The bridge crosses a fault between the city center and the El Callejón (now Bolivar) neighborhood which was previously extremely difficult to cross, requiring pedestrians to almost crawl on their knees. Accordingly, the new bridge was named Humilladero. For a long time this bridge was one of the main entrances to the city. The liberating armies crossed it to enter Popayán during the early stages of the struggle for Colombia independence. Its well-planned design and strong construction has allowed the bridge to remain intact through many earthquakes.


This country house was built in the 17th Century. On its grounds a battle was fought for the independence of Colombia on January 15, 1814. [4]


San Francisco church Iglesia San Francisco 2.JPG
San Francisco church
Santo Domingo church Facultad de Santo Domingo.JPG
Santo Domingo church
Catedral Basilica Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion Church Torre-del-Reloj Popayan.jpg
Catedral Basílica Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Church
Belen church Iglesia belen.jpg
Belén church

San Francisco

According to the architect, critic and historian Germain Téllez, the facade of this church is the best example of baroque style in Colombia. In its tower is a bell donated by Don Pedro Agustín de Valencia. This temple is remarkable because of its altar decorations and the proportions of its naves and apse.[ citation needed ] In San Francisco's square stands a monument to local hero Camilo Torres, whose replica is located in the square of the Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé in Bogotá.

Santo Domingo

Late Neogranadino Baroque work, designed by the Spanish architect Antonio Garcia. It has excellent examples of architectures, metal works, and furniture from Quito and Spain schools. His pulpit was designed in the first half of the nineteenth century by an illustrious son of the city, Francisco José de Caldas. Next to this church is the faculty of Law and Political and Social Sciences of the University of Cauca, also in colonial style.

San Agustín, church and convent

Fray Jeronimo Escobar founded the convent of the Augustinians in the late seventeenth century, whose temple was destroyed in the earthquake in 1736. Then, it was reconstructed thanks to contributions from notable people of the city, but it was necessary to restore it again after the earthquake of 1983. In particular it stands out its altar carved in wood and covered in gold, its expository baroque made in silver and an image of the Lady of Sorrows.

La Ermita

It is the oldest church in the city and sometimes it served as "Pro Tempore" Cathedral. It dates from 1546 and contains a fine altar discovered after the earthquake of 1983. The principal attraction of this church is the street because its road is made of stones, like old roads in Popayán.

Catedral Basílica Nuestra Señora de la Asunción

Originally it was a straw hut, but in 1609 it was opened a second cathedral of mud and masonry. The current construction was consecrated in 1906 by Archbishop Manuel Antonio Arboleda, who brings it a magnificent European pipe organ. Its style is the neoclassical, and much of the building was restored because of the earthquake of 1983, including the great dome of 40 meters high, whose restoration was made according to guidelines of the original structure designed by the local artist Adolfo Dueñas.

San José

It was built in 1702 according to the architectural guidelines of the Jesuits in the American Baroque. It has put up with some changes, for example, the most recent occurred in 1983, when much of the facade which had been covered with paint and lime for at least two centuries, was left on view.

Belén Chapel

It is located on the hill of Belén, and from the chapel you can see a panoramic view of the city. To arrive to this church, it is necessary to pass through the “quingos", a road of stone steps that allow a nice climb to one of the viewpoints of the city.

Since 1717 this chapel is in charge of the image of Santo Ecce Homo, patron saint of the city. Next to the church there is a cross of quarry stone of 1789, which are attributed to many legends. The original church was completely replaced by a new structure after the earthquake of 1983.


House-Museum Mosquera

This house displays a very interesting collection of colonial art and precious memories of the Mosquera family. This house is administrated by Universidad del Cauca. It works in the house that belonged to the Mosquera Arboleda family, a recognized family in the history of Colombia, whose members occupied the highest positions of political power, ecclesiastical, military and diplomatic, simultaneously during much of the nineteenth century. The most important were: Joaquín Mosquera, Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera, Manuel José Mosquera and Manuel Maria Mosquera. The father of them all, Jose Maria Mosquera y Figueroa, was considered by the Liberator Simón Bolívar as the only person he would choose as a second parent.

Archdiocesan Museum of Religious Art

The old residence of the Arboleda family, was built in the eighteenth century based on plans of the priest Andres Perez Marcelino Arroyo, and it was acquired by the city in 1974 and renovated for its current use in 1979. Their collections are extraordinary examples of religious art, silverware, pictures of the so-called Quito School and paintings of the colonial period. Monstrances of the collection have such value that they are only exposed to the public for a few days during Easter.

National Museum Guillermo Valencia

It is located in a mansion on the Próceres street, and it is dedicated to the poet Guillermo Valencia, one of the most prominent members of Modernism in Spanish literature. Its numerous rooms are decorated with valuable works of art and artistic pieces, as well as a collection of hundred of selected books, diplomas, medals and awards that Master Valencia received for his distinguished political life and for its fine literary and poetic compositions. In the park located across the street it stands the statue of the poet, made by the Spanish sculptor Victorio Macho. It has too a family cemetery where the remains of several generations of Valencia are resting.

Natural History Museum

The museum depends on the University of Cauca. It offers an exhibition of animals, like insects, butterflies and birds native to the region, and a collection of pre-Columbian pottery.

Arts and culture

Paso Paso 1.jpg

Holy Week

La Veronica Paso de La Veronica.jpg
La Verónica

Popayán is widely known for the solemnity of its Holy Week processions, during which it commemorates the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Since roughly the mid-sixteenth century - documents in the historical archives of Popayán mention processions in the year 1558 - sacred processions have taken place each night from Tuesday until Holy Saturday, with ancient religious images paraded through Popayán's historical downtown streets. They are borne on wooden platforms by means of four projecting wooden "bars" at the front and four at the back. These bars rest on the shoulders of the “cargueros”, responsible for carrying the platforms.

These processions represent episodes from the Gospels, relating the Passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Each representation is called a "Paso". Since the time of the conquest the pasos have been carried through the streets on the shoulders of the traditional 'cargueros' in a route shaped like a cross, which takes in the main churches and temples of the city. Since 2009 the Popayán Holy Week processions have been inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. [5]

During Holy Week, Popayán is also home to the Festival de Música Religiosa (Religious Music Festival), begun in the 1960s by Edmundo Mosquera Troya. This festival presents choirs, soloists and artists from around the world, specialists in sacred music. It is also the tradition at this time of the year to hold art and craft fairs selling handicrafts and commercial products. One of the most important handicrafts samples is Manos de Oro, which displays the works of artists of Colombia.

Amo Jesus of Puelenje

Amo Jesus of Puelenje on the procession Amo Jesus.JPG
Amo Jesus of Puelenje on the procession

Amo Jesus Nazareno of Puelenje is a Catholic devotional image located in the church of Puelenje, part of the metropolitan area of Popayán, Colombia. Amo Jesus is the patron of the parish of Puelenje. The image is a polychrome baroque wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ carved in the eighteenth century in the style of the Quito school. The image is processed on the Wednesday as part of the expression of popular piety celebrated in Popayán during Holy Week (see above). [6] A festival in honour of Amo Jesus as patron of the parish is celebrated with fireworks, processions, religious ceremonies and cultural events beginning on the 15th day before the last Sunday in August each year. [7]

Fiestas de Pubenza

Popayán celebrates these festivities at the beginning of the year, from January 5 to 13. These fiestas celebrate the spirit of racial diversity in the country, in the same way as the Carnival of Blacks and Whites, which takes place in the same week, in Pasto, which originally initiated in Popayán during the slavery period as a way of escaping the racial discrimination prevailing at the time.


It is said that among the original performers there were good music interpreters, excelling in playing the chirimía, that is made up of flutes (transverse cane), guacharacas, drums, castrueras and triángulos, making its appearance in the traditional celebrations of Popayán, especially at Christmas time and at the end of the year.[ citation needed ]

On the plateau of Popayán, groups of farmers play stringed instruments, composed of three guitars and maracas which have incorporated into their repertoire paseos, merengues, pasillos and boleros in vocal and instrumental form.


Creative cities network Popayan of the UNESCO Creative cities network Popayan.jpg
Creative cities network Popayan of the UNESCO

Popayán has been declared a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO, in tribute to its significant tradition of regional cooking.[ citation needed ] Typical dishes of the city are a legacy of both Spanish and indigenous cultural interaction, integrating components of local origin with fruits brought from Spain.

The National Gastronomy Congress of Popayán has been held each September since 2003, and in 2005 was recognized by UNESCO as a cultural heritage event of the United Nations creative network.[ citation needed ] The Congress is organized by the Gastronomic Corporation of Popayán, which has presented seven events which have also featured the participation of various countries as special guests: Peru, Brazil, Spain, Chile, Mexico, Italy and France.

Typical dishes
Christmas Eve Dish Plato de nochebuena.jpg
Christmas Eve Dish

Christmas Eve plate or dish is very special. Its content is the most complete of Colombia and consists of hojaldra  [ es ], rosquillas, manjar blanco, dulce cortado, natillas and fig syrups, among others.


Traditional cinema is represented in the city by the Bolivar Cultural Center, which shows independent films. There is also a theater, the Royal Films multiplex in the Campanario Mall, which has four modern 3D digital cinema screens, and a new theater, Cine Colombia multiplex in the Terra plaza Mall (the newest in the city)

In addition there are several film clubs, many of them located within the University of Cauca. The Cineclub La Tuátara runs every Wednesday in the Comfacauca Institute of Technology auditorium (opened 2001), which has established itself as a cultural space for the city.

A very important innovation is the program of the Radio Universidad del Cauca station 104.1 fm, 'Cinema Radio', on air Saturdays at noon, in which are created thematic cycles. They present news about cinema, 'the seventh art', and also discuss the history of film and audiovisual language. Talking about cinematographic production, there are some people who are working to strengthen the seventh art in the municipality.

Born in Popayán


Popayan has one commercial airport, Guillermo León Valencia Airport, served by Avianca.


The average temperature of 17.8 °C places the city in the warm-temperate zone. Popayán has a highland subtropical climate but as precipitation is high even in the driest month, Köppen defines it as Cfb (in the bordeline of the Af - equatorial climate), without direct relation to the term used. Being in the northern hemisphere, some Mediterranean characteristics are observed as a summer much drier than winter, but still quite humid. [8] [9]

Climate data for Popayán (Aeropuerto Guillermo León Valencia)
Record high °C (°F)29.0
Average high °C (°F)24.1
Average low °C (°F)13.2
Record low °C (°F)8.2
Average rainfall mm (inches)199.8
Average rainy days171619202114101015232421210
Average relative humidity (%)80797980807771697480828278
Mean monthly sunshine hours 160.6125.9125.9106.8113.0147.6172.8162.3129.2108.9121.4140.41,614.8

Sister cities

Popayán is twinned with:[ citation needed ]

Coat of Arms of Malaga.svg Málaga Flag of Spain.svg  Spain
Coat of Arms of Seville.svg Sevilla Flag of Spain.svg  Spain
Escudo de Valencia 2.svg Valencia Flag of Spain.svg  Spain
Coat of Arms of Murcia City.svg Murcia Flag of Spain.svg  Spain
Caltanissetta-Stemma.png Caltanissetta Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
Coat of arms of San Juan de Pasto.png San Juan de Pasto Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia
Escudo Loja (Ecuador).jpg Loja, Ecuador Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador
Coat of arms of Montevideo Department.png Ibarra, Ecuador Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador
Escudo de Santiago de Compostela.svg Santiago de Compostela Flag of Spain.svg  Spain

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Tomás Cipriano Ignacio María de Mosquera-Figueroa y Arboleda-Salazar was a Colombian general and political figure. He was president of Colombia four times. The first time was as president of Republic of New Granada from 1845 to 1849. During the Colombian Civil War of 1860–1862 he led liberal forces in a civil war against conservative factions. After the liberals won, a new, federalist constitution was implemented, which established a two-year presidency, and the nation renamed the United States of Colombia. Mosquera served twice as president of the new government. From 1861 to 1862 he served in a non-elected, interim manner, while the constitution was written. From 1862 to 1864 he served in an elected manner. He had a fourth term from 1866 to 1867. Due to the liberal reforms carried out under his leadership, he is considered one of the most important persons in Colombian history of the 19th century.

Guillermo León Valencia President of Colombia

Guillermo León Valencia Muñoz is a Colombian politician, lawyer and diplomat who served the 21st President of Colombia from 1962 to 1966.

Gran Colombia–Peru War 1828-1829 war between Colombia and Peru

The Gran Colombia–Peru War of 1828 and 1829 was the first international conflict fought by the Republic of Peru, which had gained its independence from Spain in 1821, and Gran Colombia, that existed between 1819 and 1830.

United Provinces of New Granada

The United Provinces of New Granada was a country in South America from 1811 to 1816, a period known in Colombian history as the Patria Boba. It was formed from areas of the New Kingdom of Granada, roughly corresponding to the territory of modern-day Colombia. The government was a federation with a parliamentary system, consisting of a weak executive and strong congress. The country was reconquered by Spain in 1816.

Pácora, Caldas Municipality and town in Caldas Department, Colombia

Pácora is a town and municipality in the Colombian Department of Caldas. It is located in northern Caldas-Department, on the slopes of the Andes Central Mountains of the Republic of Colombia. With an average annual temperature of 18 °C, the town is bordered to the northeast with Aguadas, Caldas, to the south with Salamina, Caldas and La Merced, and to the west separated by the Cauca River, Marmato-Caldas and Caramanta-Antioquia department. The villages in Pácora are San Bartolomé, Castilla, Las Coles, Los Morros, San Lorenzo and Buenos Aires.

José María Obando President of Colombia

José María Ramón Obando del Campo was a Neogranadine General and politician who twice served as President of Colombia. As a General, he initially fought for the Royalist Army during the Independence Wars of Colombia, ultimately joining the revolutionary forces of Simón Bolívar towards the end, but once independence was attained he opposed Bolívar's Centralist government.

Real Audiencia of Quito

The Real Audiencia of Quito was an administrative unit in the Spanish Empire which had political, military, and religious jurisdiction over territories that today include Ecuador, parts of northern Peru, parts of southern Colombia and parts of northern Brazil. It was created by Royal Decree on 29 August 1563 by Philip II of Spain in the city of Guadalajara. It ended in 1822 with the incorporation of the area into the Republic of Gran Colombia.

Ezequiel Hurtado President of Colombia

Ezequiel Hurtado Hurtado was a politician, military general and statesman who became President of Colombia. He was born in Silvia, in the department of Cauca, December 14, 1825 and died in Popayán, September 4, 1890. His parents were Nicolas Hurtado and Maria Trinidad Hurtado. e went to school at Colegio San Jose and then studied law at the University of Cauca, where he graduated on January 27, 1852. He subsequently became a University lecturer in law.

Guillermo León Valencia Airport airport

Guillermo León Valencia Airport is an airport serving Popayán, the capital city of the Cauca Department in Colombia. It took the name of former President of Colombia Guillermo León Valencia Muñoz.

Federico Carlos Lehmann Valencia (1914–1974) was a Colombian ornithologist, plant collector, and conservation biologist.

Josefina Valencia Muñoz Colombian politician

Josefina Valencia Muñoz was a Colombian politician, and the first woman to be appointed governor of a Colombian department as Governor of Cauca, and the first woman to be appointed to a cabinet-level position as the 46th Minister of National Education of Colombia.

Holy Week in Popayán

The Holy Week in Popayán, Cauca (Colombia), is the celebration of the Passion and death of Jesus Christ through daily processions continuously performed since the sixteenth century between Good Friday nights and Holy Saturday. This parade takes place in the ancient streets of the "White City". Religious images of Spanish, Andalusian, Quito, Italian and Payanes arranged on a wooden platform with 4 front and 4 back "barrotes" (bars) are carried in the shoulders of the "Cargueros". These images are representations of different episodes recounted in the Gospels on the Passion, Crucifixion and Death of Jesus Christ. Each performance is a "paso" (step). The steps are taken through the streets, a distance of a cross-shaped layout since the time of the Conquest, passing by the main churches and temples of the city.

Óliver Lis or Andres Oliver Ucros & Licht is an editor, literary agent, author, psychologist, film producer, screenwriter.

Jose Maria Quijano Wallis Colombian politician

Jose Maria Quijano Wallis was a Colombian lawyer, diplomatic, politician and historian. His parents were Manuel de Jesús Quijano y Ordóñez and Rafaela Wallis y Caldas, daughter of an English physician, Wallis and Baltazara Jorge Caldas, younger sister of the wise and patriotic Francisco José de Caldas. He also served as Congressman in both houses, Governor of Cauca, and Secretary Foreign Affairs, of Finance and Development, and of Treasury and Public Credit.

Aurelio Iragorri Valencia is the 12th Minister of the Interior of Colombia, serving in the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón. Iragorri, who had served as Deputy Minister of the Interior from 2010 to 2012, also served as Santos' Chief of Staff, and as High Presidential Advisor for Political Affairs.

Lord of Miracles of Buga

Our Lord of the Miracles of Buga, also known as the Lord of the Miracles, is a famous statue of Jesus Christ in the form of a crucifix, remarkable for having come into existence miraculously and spontaneously and without the work of human hands. This type of miraculous icon is known as acheiropoieta.

Rosas-Julumito Fault

The Rosas-Julumito Fault is an oblique dextral strike-slip fault in the department of Cauca in southwestern Colombia. The fault is part of the megaregional Romeral Fault System and has a total length of 43.3 kilometres (26.9 mi) and runs along an average northeast to southwest strike of 026.9 ± 7 in the Central Ranges of the Colombian Andes. The fault is associated with the 1983 Popayán earthquake that partially destroyed Popayán, the capital of Cauca, and led to more than 300 fatalities. A maximum moment magnitude earthquake of 6.8 is estimated for the fault.


  1. DANE 2005.
  2. Popayan, Colombia appointed first UNESCO City of Gastronomy UNESCO 28 Aug 2005
  3. Krause "World Coins 1701-1800" 4th Ed and "1801-1900" 5th Ed, Colin R. Bruce II, Sr. editor
  4. Casa de Hacienda: Architecture in the Colombian Countryside , German Tellez et al
  5. See the entry in the website, accessed 4 April 2015.
  6. See the description on the website, accessed 4 April 2015.
  7. See, for example, the notice (in Spanish) Patronal del Amo Jesús en Puelenje advertising the festival as held in 2014. Accessed 4 April 2015
  8. "Popayan, Colombia Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  9. "Clima Popayán: Temperatura, Tempo e Dados climatológicos Popayán - Climate-Data.org". pt.climate-data.org. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  10. "POPAYÁN". bart.ideam.gov.co.