Undoubtedly Santander is a privileged place whose beautiful land and warm people encourages travelers from all over the world to visit.
Here you will find some of the many reasons to schedule soon a trip to discover the wonders of this department.
Santander, cradle of history
Santander is home of heroes and events that mark milestones in the process of formation and independence of Colombia. Native peoples were indigenous tribes that belonged to the muiscas guanes, tunebos, yariguies and carares ethnicities. Some of the traces of these cultures can be found in the Archaeological and Paleontological Museum of the municipality of Guane.
The department was pioneer in the struggle for independence of Colombia from the Spanish crown. People from Santander promoted the Revolution of Los Comuneros in 1781 and the Declaration of Independence of the Province on July 10th 1810. This independence sentiment then spreaded out to the whole Viceroyalty of the then New Granada and became a reality only until 1819. Santander department hosts municipalities and monuments that are cultural heritage such as Barichara (known as the prettiest small village in Colombia), Guane, Giron, San Gil, Socorro, among others. There, visitors have the opportunity to be returned in time surrounded by magical colonial architecture and stone paths, all accompanied by stunning mountains and ridges that keep unique landscapes and host endless number of flora and fauna.
Santander, natural paradise
Santander department has unique landscapes that dazzles for its natural treasures. The most important and well known of them is the Chichamocha Canyon located on the banks of the river of the same name, between the cities of Bucaramanga and San Gil. The Chicamocha Canyon is in the Top 77 of the natural wonders of the world and today houses the Natural Park and Aquapark Chichamocha (Panachi) that combines cultural attractions, slides, pools and extreme sports including a cable car with a length of 6.3 kilometers, one of the longest in the world.
Among other natural wonders in Santander are: Santurban Park, Yariguíes Park, Guantiva Park, Gallineral Park, Almorzadero paramo Complex, plus at least 55 caves. Santander’s natural wealth includes great rivers, such as the Suarez, Chicamocha, Fonce, and more than 500 streams, about 30 waterfalls and several hot springs.These natural treasures host countless animal and plant varieties, including endemic species that can only be found in this region.
Santander, pioneers of adventure tourism
The municipality of San Gil is a leader in the field of adventure tourism in Colombia due to the fact than in 1996 it opened the first rafting route of the country by the Fonce River. As a consequence, San Gil has the most experienced agencies and guides in the practice of extreme sports.
In San Gil, and some other places in the department, people can practice activities like zipline, paragliding, spelunking (cave exploration), canyoning (descent of canyons), rappel (descent on the dry rock), and others sports such as mountain biking, buggies riding, horse riding, swings, hiking, among others. As a result, the city is officially the tourist capital of Santander and Lonely Planet calls it “capital of outdoor activities in Colombia and Mecca for extreme-sporting enthusiasts.”
Santander and its people
The santandereanos are known nationally and internationally for the tenacity of their character. They are defined as industrious, enterprising, determined, honest, strong, good-humored and friendly. Some popular songs speak therefore of “the wild lands of Santander”.
People from Barichara are called Patiamarillos or yellowfeet (where this blog takes the name from) due to the color of the land that turns the feet of people walking over its floor into yellow. Patiamarillos and people from Santander are very welcoming and they call each other “mano”, a diminutive of the word hermano (brother in Spanish).
Among the illustrious Santandereanos we find heroes of the national history of Colombia such as Jose Antonio Galan, Manuela Beltran, Isidro Alcantuz, Juan Francisco Berbeo, Salvador Plata, Antonia Santos Plata, the former president of Colombia Aquileo Parra, the eccentric Earl of Cuchicute José María Gómez Rueda, as well as many artists, comedians (including several Guinness World records of jokes telling), scientists, athletes, politicians, businessmen, among others.
Some of these features can be seen in the Monument to the Santanderean culture at Chicamocha Park but especially in the contact with everyday people.
Among the most delightful aspects of the Santanderean culture are its hospitality, traditional food, religious customs and holidays. The Santanderean cuisine includes delicacies like arepa (tortilla kind made with dried yellow corn), baby goat, pepitoria (plate made with baby goat), mute soup (tasty mix of pork and vegetables), oreada meat (dried steak, almost like jerky), tamal (cornmeal dough with various meats and enveloped in a large banana leaf), bocadillo (sweet paste made with guava), and the “large-bottomed ant”. This exotic insect that has been consumed for more than 500 years, has a delicious flavor as well as analgesic and aphrodisiac properties.
The fervor of santandereanos can be seen in the majestic monuments and religious festivals. Among the monuments, it is worth highlighting the Blessed Ecopark in the municipality of Floridablanca, the Churches of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Peter Claver in Bucaramanga, the Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Giron, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Snows in Velez, the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Barichara, the Cathedrals of San Gil and Curití, among many others. Regarding celebrations, the main one is the Holy Week-where many Sacra- Music Festivals are held, Christmas- which decorates public places and households with lights, novenas and Aguinaldo masses, plus countless local celebrations that honor different catholic saints.
Santander holds more than 54 fairs and festivals every month in honor of municipalities, and even of things such as bread, petroleum, pineapple, cocoa, snuff, corn, the basket and friendship just to mention a few.
To check Santanderean hospitality, it is well worth visiting its cities, towns, fields, tourist attractions and local communities. Large cities like Bucaramanga (known as the City of Parks) and Barrancabermeja (industrial center) show the thrust of its economy (now fourth in the country with a variety of industries and services) and the vibrant urban scene; while municipalities and rural communities allow to appreciate the originality and warmth of Santanderean people, the tranquility of local life, the richness of the countryside and the authenticity of traditional economic activities (such as stone carving, crafts, agribusiness, etc. ).