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Often overshadowed by its adventurous neighbour, San Gil, beautiful Barichara remains a relatively untouched gem in Colombia. Due to its tranquillity, stunning surroundings and easy-going lifestyle, this sleepy town has become a hub for local artists and artisans – and a dream destination for art and craft lovers. From pottery workshops to open-air art spaces, here’s why every creative should head to Barichara.
The Fundación San Lorenzo, an all-female-run paper workshop, has been making paper by hand from the Andean fique plant since 2001. Their 30-minute paper-making workshops allow you to not only get a glimpse into the four-month process of producing artisanal paper, but you’ll also have the chance to make your very own sheet! Don’t miss the beautiful stationary and other paper products, such as lampshades and animal figures, sold in their small souvenir shop.
Surrounded by stunning views of the valley below, Parque de las Artes has been a peaceful escape for art-lovers since 1988. Dotted with water features and impressive statues hand-carved by local sculptors, this makes for a great place to sketch, photograph or just admire Barichara’s local craft.
For such a small town, you’ll be stunned at the amount of ceramics and embroidery workshops. The best way to get involved is to take part in a hands-on ceramics class. The Taller de Jimena and Jaime comes highly recommended, as they’ve been making and teaching ceramics in their home and studio for over 20 years. In their three hour workshop, they teach the Raku technique, where you’ll sculpt and hand glaze the clay using different application techniques. Once dry, you’ll also get tips on the firing and painting process.
Barichara is a town built almost entirely from stone: the pavements and houses are stone, the walls of the biggest and most stunning church, Catedral de La Inmaculada Concepcion, were masterfully carved, and parks and cemeteries are scattered with beautiful stone sculptures. This is because, ever since the town’s humble beginnings in 1702, Barichara has been home to some of the best stone sculptors in the country. Although you’ll spot their work just walking through the town’s streets, the most elaborate stone pieces can be seen decorating the tombstones in Cementerio de Barichara.
With so many workshops in the area, it’s only normal that there should be an equal amount of artisan shops selling Barichara’s best crafts. Round every corner here you’ll find small shops filled floor-to-ceiling with pottery, painting, embroidery, jewellery, stationery, hand-made furniture and much, much more. Easily an afternoon worth of fun to be had!
At ever-popular homestay, shop and art workshop Albahaca Hospedaje y Tienda, you can learn the art behind felting, a craft that the whole family here has been practising for years. The workshop takes place in their stunning, 200-year-old home complete with stone courtyard, animal trough and old tobacco press. Don’t miss their home-made basil and chilli oil, sold in the on-site Albahaca shop.
With its pristine cobblestone streets, 200-year old whitewashed houses, and lovingly-preserved stone churches, Barichara really is a feat of stunning architecture and careful preservation. Walking down one of its dusty streets as the sunset turns the Catedral de La Inmaculada Concepcion a deep orange, it’s easy to feel like you’ve fallen into a painting.