Close to Medellin, there is a small village called Guatapè, famous for two reasons: the story of the village and the “Penol” stone. Here we are in the subregion of Eastern Antioquia.
I arrived in Guatape very early in the morning catching the first bus from Medellin. The ticket costs 12000$COP p/p (2,5€) and if I well remember it took more than two hours to reach the village. The view from the bus more closely you will go to Guatape more beautiful it becomes.
Sweet mountains, not too pronounced until reaching the view of Penol.. you will see it from afar.
Guatapè is a famous holiday resort for Colombians that lies on the shores of an artificial lake, l' Embalse Guatapè. The particular mark of the village are the traditional houses that are covered by painting similar to the Italian frescos.
You can see them in the bottom part of the houses and lots of them have also low reliefs that represent people, animals and scenes of normal life.
The village was founded in 1811, nicknamed “El Pueblo de los Zócalos,”. For what they told me the painting could represent the job of the owner or other things connected to Him/Her.
I decided to stay there two days alone, far from the city noise and nightlife. It is a quiet place where you can have relax on the Lake Rivers, walking along them and go for a ferry trip. During the weekends there are more people but not so much to be crowded.
Stroll through the narrow cobbled streets that climb the hill makes you appreciate the tranquility of this town. If you want to admire the lake from nearby, you can stroll in the malecon, full of restaurants and shops.
More recently there was the addition to the town the Plaza de Zocalos, where artists are used to play for the tourists that drink a good cup of coffee. You feel like it is a more overt attempt to capitalise on tourists flocking to see the colourful buildings, but it is a nice way to pass some hours.
We are also close tio the coffee area, another beatiful place where to go, I will write an article about it!
Talking about the artificial lake, we need to go back to 70’. The whole area was flooded to make way for a huge hydro-electric dam. This resulted in the formation of several small villages or group of houses and tourism started to have a much bigger role in the location economy. In contrast with the tourism, all the fields were submerged. Before that it was a farming area almost forgotten by the world.
The “Piedra del Penol”
The Peñol is an old rock formation, formed 70 million years ago. With 2/3 of its height below ground, the exposed vertical face is over 200 meters high and visible from throughout the surrounding countryside.
It is possible to see the stairs to be done for reaching the top
Visitors can scale the rock via a staircase built into one side, a path of 740 steps to the top. On the top you find food vendors and outdoor tables overlooking vistas that stretch to the horizon in every direction. You can stay there enjoying the open-air view and admire the spectacular scenery. I pass 3 hours there stop to thinking about my life and the time I passed in Colombia till that moment.The lake of a shining blue is in contrast with the green of the hills and it seems almost a painting.
Of course Italian can say that this is a normal view of an Italian lake, but please leave home the prejudices we have, and live and read every place you go, as something new, different and beautiful.
You don’t have to think only to the view but to the story of the place and this was one of the most genuine village I was close to Medellin. If you stay a bit more (not only a day) you can have a talk with locals and youl understand more about this area and about Colombia.