The Norte-Santander county is located at the Venezuelan border at the North-East of Colombia.
These areas are keys in the history of the country as this is where many battles happened for the independence of Colombia. The most famous battle happened near Bucaramanga with separatists against Spanish conquistadors and last 1 000 days.
As we arrived from the North, we did our first stop, in the Norte-Santander, in Bucaramanga. Our first impression was not the most positive one as we needed to go through an horrendous traffic to reach the town-centre perched on a mountain. In spite of the link with the Hispanic history, the architecture is not majestic, even with 2 nice squares. But we still had good surprises.
First, the chess players in the Parque Santander at the bottom of the cathedral playing with pawns, bishops and knights on the draughtboard. After starting to chat with a person watching a chess game, we are invited to share a “tinto” coffee while debating about European football.
After walking a bit in the streets of the city, we enjoyed the cultural spot offered by “El Instituto del Oriente”. Far away from the buzzing city life, we enjoyed listening the music lessons, watching the dance classes, and learning more about the history of the area in the small museum upstairs.
A few kilometers away, at the West of the city, Girón offers a more quite environnement than the big city Bucaramanga. Its historic centre with Hispanic influences offers an enjoyable atmosphere. Narrow paved streets, nice houses with white facades and little stone bridges seduced us quickly.
On the way to Pamplona, after reaching the top of the “Cerro Morronagre” col at 3100m above sea level, we made an improvised stop in the Mutiscua village. To go there, nothing easier. On the main road, there is a sign indicating this village. You just need to take this road on the left hand-side, to go down the 2km winding road in bad conditions, and Mutiscua will wait for you! This little village in the mountains lives with cultivation of vegetables and trout farming. We have been seduced by the simplicity and the warm welcoming of their residents. The main square is built around the church overlooking the river. This is the true heart and soul of the village where everyone is meeting to spend time together at the end of the day with a soda, a beer or a glass of Aguardiente with his neighbour, his friends or his colleagues.
Pamplona is a city surrounded by mountains. This was the first capitale of Colombia after the announcement of the independence of the Norte-Santander county. Pamplona kept many buildings with a Hispanic architecture. Its main square is the true meeting point of the city. It’s nice to spend a few minutes to watch the Colombians animating the square by playing frisbee, enjoying an ice cream or chatting on the benches in front of the cathedral. For a first time, this religious building is not that imposing but its Norman design makes the cathedral very welcoming. The second unavoidable spot in Pamplona is the covered market. There is a true labyrinth of aisles where you can find the usual sellers of fruits and veggies, the butchers and delicatessen stalls, plus a few clothing stalls. This is an unusual place isolated from the buzzing life in the streets.
After this small detour by the North-East, we are going towards the South. Next stop: Medellín!
OUR FAVOURITE PLACES
Where to go?
Raizón thermal baths
A few kilometers away from Pamplona, towards Cúcuta, you can relax at the thermal baths of Razón. These natural pools are full of hot water coming from the volcano next to them.
Where to have a drink?
Babel, Coffee & Pub
2 floors, 5 little rooms with a different ambiance and a nice small roof-top. A nice bar to enjoy a local beer or a cocktail.