THE COLONIAL CHURCHES OF POPAYÁN The colonial capital of the southwest has retained its all-white, elegant character with handsome churches and mansions close to volcanoes, hot springs and indigenous markets.
The capital of the Cauca region and one of the most tantalizing cities in Colombia, POPAYÁN boasts a historic core of handsome streets flanked by colonial terraces, exquisite Baroque churches and grand, whitewashed mansions – it’s nicknamed the “Ciudad Blanca” for good reason. The city remains remarkably undeveloped, with only a trickle of visitors and few concessions to tourism. Indeed, Popayán is very much a working place, with its historic properties interlaced with government offices, small businesses and the faculties of the Universidad del Cauca. Though it’s worth spending a couple of days soaking up the architectural charms and museums, Popayán also makes an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding terrain of the Valle de Pubenza (aka the Upper Cauca Valley) – the market at Silvia, the **Puracé volcano** and the **thermal springs at Coconuco**.

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