Santa Fe (Colombia, Not New Mexico)


kid delivering beer by bicycle, riding down street in Santa Fe, Colombia

Beer Delivery System

Recently I had a “Weekend of Awesomeness” which climaxed with a trip to Santa Fe, Colombia…about an hour bus trip from Medellin.  We (3 friends and I ) arrived around 8pm at night, in the rain, to the ‘bus station’ (a.k.a., the side of the street with a couple mom-&-pop restaurants on the side of the road).   We waited out the worst of the rain under cover, then sneaked our way under awnings and on raised sidewalks, and down the cobblestone streets to the main square of Santa Fe.

large church with clouded blue sky, horses in front of church

Giant church that looms over the main square in Santa Fe.

From the bus stop, face the restaurants.  Head right and take your first left.  Its down that street a couple blocks.  You can tell when you’re there by the gigantic church and large amounts of restaurants, street food stalls in the middle of the street, and people who look like tourists.  Really…you WILL know when you hit it.

food stalls in front of large church in Santa Fe, Colombia

Food Stalls in the main, central square of Santa Fe

We had reserved 2 private rooms at Hotel Franco (straight, 1 block past the main square.  Look for the upcoming blog post on it.)  Its amazing, quaint, and inexpensive, and decorated with all sorts of hodgepodge décor and many brightly coloured hanging parrots.

Fake parrots hang from inside roof of brightly colored hotel, Santa Fe, Colombia

Lobby of Hotel Franco. It’s a really colorful hotel.

Even though it was still raining a bit, we decided to go eat at one of the restaurants on the side.  After searching a bit, we found a decent priced restaurant with really good , although greasy, food.  And 2 kids outside asking me to say things in English.  Then one asked where I’m from.

“Boston”, I replied.  “Tu sabes Boston?” (bad Spanish for “Do you know Boston?”).

  “Si” , he said, pointing up in the air, to the right, “MUCHAS GRINGOS!”


nun in white walking down cobblestone street

Nun. There are nuns everywhere in Colombia. I love it!

Santa Fe is a bunch of old colonial buildings.  And churches.  Lots of churches.  Really ginormous old churches.  And cobblestone streets.   There are also a lot of horsemen who ride around, which I fell in love with because I adore the sound of horse hooves clacking against the cobblestone.  I recommend walking around at night.  No cars, lots less tourists, and the lighting just gives this solemn and eerie effect to everything.  (No, I don’t have photos from it, to my disappointment.  We were just going to grab food, but it stopped raining, and I left my camera in the hotel.  Yea.  Photo-op fail).

Man riding horse down street in Santa Fe, Colombia

Horse on the cobblestone street.

However, I did get to stop by a mop-making store and photograph (with the help of my personal translator/fixer/wicked awesome bag-carrier) a mop being handmade.

Hand making a mop

Photo from the mop-making demonstration I got. See the link to go the blogpost.

There is also an old graveyard in Santa Fe (ok, there is probably more than one, but due to the limited time I had, I only explored part of the city.  I see a return trip in my future).  I loved it.  Especially the not-cemented-over mausoleum thingy.

open colombiarium with casket

Working columbarium.

Santa Fe is quite touristy, but not full of tourists.  By that I mean, it’s not swampped with pushing, shoving, hordes of people.  I actually only saw a few gringos there.   It is a small, quiet town; where the locals intermingle with the tourists nonchalantly.  They don’t abhor the tourists like in some tourist cities.  They seem to know that people come to their small town for relaxation, to see the beautiful buildings, and that these people (like us) also help fuel the local economy.  The locals are quite cheery and friendly (at least all the ones I met)..and joke; in a friendly manner, with us tourists that started heading down a dead end street.

2 older men from colombia, one with machette

Now these are Paisas!

If you want some quiet, some relaxation, and a place to chill out, walk around, and just meander through cobblestone streets and see some great old colonial, centuries old buildings, head to Santa Fe.  It’s so close to Medellin you can do it in a daytrip…but I recommend  getting a hotel and spending at least one night there so you can do a night stroll up and down the cobblestone streets, (getting a feeling of how much I love the cobblestone streets yet?), looking at all the old doors (I have a thing for old and unusual doors), and enjoying the silence of this sleepy little town.

green and white door open to reveal house inside

Just an old door. Santa Fe is filled with giant, old, wooden, decorative doors.

Also, yes, there is some wicked famous bridge in Santa Fe.  Did I see it?  No.  I didn’t really have the time or money with me to do so. (I was told its about a 20 min drive away, and I wanted to see more of the streets and the graveyard).   But like I said, I do foresee another trip to Santa Fe.

Stone Statue or 3 men sitting

Statue in the courtyard of a school in Santa Fe, Colombia.

At about 10mil ($5 USD) per ticket each way, and only around an hour bus away, and (if I want to stay over again) a $25 a night hotel (for private room, with private bathroom) ,  this place is easily a day trip or quick overnight getaway for anyone who wants to get to some peace and quiet and away from large crowds.