Marsella is a town in the coffee growing region of Colombia and part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia. It was named after the French city of Marseille. It’s known as one of the most beautiful towns in the entire region, and I can agree. It’s also a well-kept secret because it doesn’t attract crowds like other towns such as Salento or, to a lesser extent, Filandia. Chances are, you’ll have the entire town to yourself.
I visited Marsella with my girlfriend Marisol for a fiesta. We were invited by some friends living there, Natalia and Barry. We arrived on a Sunday night in time for the fiesta and went to Café Don Danilo. It’s a café with a nice terrace but it’s also where we stayed the night, at the adjacent Hostal Casa Don Danilo. There are a couple extremely clean and comfortable rooms with good wifi available to rent. It cost us COP$45,000 for two. An extra person costs COP$20,000. The coffee, by the way, is also regarded as the best in Marsella and one of the best in the region.
The fiesta was a lot of fun. We sat outside in the plaza, drank aguardiente and wine, and listened to music, danced at times, and tried some delicious food from street vendors.
The next morning, we walked around the town’s beautiful plaza. It’s surrounded by colorfully painted colonial architecture.
The plaza is decorated with trees and benches and has a fountain in the middle. At one end is a gorgeous church, but it’s not much to look at from the inside. On both ends of the church are some restaurants and cafés that are popular with locals.
On the corner of the plaza to the left of the church is a nicely decorated stairway. Locals are proud of it.
At a corner of the plaza opposite the church is the Casa de la Cultura. Well known as one of the most spectacular colonial buildings in this region of Colombia, it’s a huge three story colonial building with an open courtyard in the center. It serves as a cultural and recreational center, museum, and community center. It’s open daily and free of charge.
The museum is located on the top two floors. There are several old photos of Marsella and nearby Pereira, pre-Columbian artifacts, old objects such as the first telephone in Marsella, newspaper clippings, and even a signed football jersey donated by Olympique de Marseille.
Other areas locals told us are worth visiting are the cemetery and botanical gardens. We were running short on time and couldn’t fit them into our schedule.
Getting to Marsella is easy from the Pereira bus terminal. The Marsella company, located on the 2nd level, has buses roughly every half hour. The cost is COP$5,000 each way. When you see the church bell tower, ask the driver to let you off. It’s a couple blocks uphill to the plaza.