Plaza de Bolívar forms the city’s axis with a customary, and in this case exemplary, homage to the great South American liberator. The magnificent bronze Bolívar Cóndor (1991) mounted on a centerpiece plinth presents Bolívar as a condor. The massive wings of the Andean condor are attached to Bolívar’s torso, with the legendary freedom fighter’s dismembered head/mask thrusting forth into the square. The work of famed Antioquian Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt—one of the most important artists in Colombia and Latin America—the daring sculpture presents Bolívar’s spirit, determination, and quest for freedom.
On the north side of the square, the neo-colonial La Gobernación, or Governor’s Palace, was built following the fire of 1925. With a harmonious paradigm of Republican-style architecture, decorative plant and animal motifs are cast from earthquake resistant cement and plaster. On the south side, the neo-gothic Cathedral (daily 8am–8pm) with four towers (the central tower is the tallest of its kind in the nation) and a whimsical spire was built by Italian architects in 1939, after a fire devastated the original structure in 1926. It’s worth a quick look inside for the fine stained glass and marble font, and to climb to the top of the tower for great views of the surrounding valleys.
Overlooking Parque Caldas (Calle 30/Carrera 22), the early 20th century, neo-Gothic Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción is worth a visit for its ornate interior with a beautiful vaulted roof, pews, and pillars, all fashioned from cedar wood, and scintillating stained-glass.
Just southwest of the city, in the Chipre barrio, a striking 50-ton bronze monument by local artist Luis Guillermo Vallejo commemorates the 22 Paisas who founded Manizales in 1849. But what really lures people to Chipre is the incredible views of Parque Nacional Los Nevados from the Torre al Cielo (Parque Observatorio, Avenida 12 de Octubre; tel. 883-8311; daily 9am–10pm; COP$3,000; there are frequent buses from Cable Plaza to Chipre). Locals will proudly tell you that this is the place where Chilean poet Pablo Neruda waxed lyrical about Manizales’s “factory of sunsets.”
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.