A Walking Tour of Mompox's Most Precious Colonial Sights

Jessica Vincent
Photo of Jessica Vincent
1 March 2018

Located on the remote riverbanks of Northern Colombia’s Río Magdalena, Mompox remains one of the country’s best-preserved colonial towns. From picture-perfect, 400-year-old churches to stone statues commemorating the great revolutionary Simon Bolivar, an afternoon is easily filled spotting Mompox’s fascinating colonial treasures.

Iglesia Santa Bárbara

First up on your walking tour is Mompox’s most striking and second-oldest colonial building: the Santa Bárbara church. With its bright yellow facade, intricate white detailing, and unusual bell tower balcony, 400-year-old Santa Barabara steals the heart of every passerby. For 2,000 pesos (less than $1USD), you can climb to the top of the bell tower for beautiful views of the river and surrounding countryside too.

Iglesia Santa Bárbara | © Iris Castillo / Flickr

Cementerio Municipal

A spot not to miss on your colonial walking tour is Mompox’s most pristine public space: the Municipal Cemetary. Around a central chapel, a wall of whitewashed graves are stacked high (sometimes up to six) atop each other to create an impressive wall of elaborately decorated tombs. The shady park at the entrance of the cemetery is a popular gathering point for locals – join them!

Cementerio Municipal | © Puriy / Flickr

Portales de la Marquesa

Not to be confused with the nearby Hotel Portal de la Marquesa (although this hotel is also worth a peek, as the architecture is just as stunning), Los Portales de la Marquesa refers to four famous adjacent houses that decorate the river’s edge. These colourful colonial houses are some of the oldest and most picturesque homes that you’ll see in Mompox. Each one has been carefully preserved – including beautiful brightly coloured pillars and grand windows – to ensure they look as they did almost 200 years ago.

© Portal de La Marquesa / Facebook

Piedra de Bolivar

Just a few minutes walk from Portales de la Marquesa sits Mompox’s most famous monument. Piedra de Bolivar recorded the comings and goings of Simon Bolivar during Latin America’s fight against Spanish rule. In 1812, it was here that Bolivar disembarked to recruit 400 Momposino troops to help free Venezuela. It was only two years earlier that Mompox had been the first town in Colombia to announce its independence from Colonial rule. But we’ll get onto that in a second.

Piedra de Bolivar | © jaleosanchez2 / Flickr

Plaza De La Libertad

Keeping with the theme of revolution, it was in the Plaza De La Libertad that, on the 6th of August 1810, Mompox’s independence from Spain was announced to the cheers of thousands of Momposinos. In the centre, you’ll see the town’s Statue of Liberty with Simon Bolivar’s famous words: “If I owe my life to Caracas, then to Mompox I owe my glory.” With its shady benches and beautiful surrounding colonial buildings, this is a great spot to stop a while too.

Plaza de la Libertad | © Red de Pueblos Matrimonio / Flickr

Colegio Nacional Pinillos

Next up is Mompox’s most prestigious education centre. Having been built in 1804 by colonial powers, Colegio Nacional Pinillos resembles more of a grand palace than a school. With its palm-fringed courtyard and beautiful golden archways, this is Mompox’s colonial architecture at its finest. Make sure you ask the locals about the important figures who once studied, taught at and visited this location.

Colegio Pinillos | © Adolfo Echeverry / Flickr

Iglesia de San Francisco

This church may look a little understated, but, out of the six churches in Mompox, Iglesia de San Francisco is the oldest – and, therefore, full of history. Dating from 1580, this petite church is instantly recognisable by its deep red facade and white detailing. Inside, you’ll find the walls adorned with stunning religious art and a colourful wooden altarpiece. If you do want to peek inside its doors, though, you’ll have to wait for evening mass.

Iglesia de San Francisco | © Mathias Lervold / Flickr

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