Jardín is a coffee town in the green mountains of southwest of Antioquia. It wasn’t mentioned until very recently in many tourist guidebooks like Lonely Planet, therefore it’s still “undiscovered”. Many Colombians have known about it for a long time, and I’ve seen more and more foreigners each time I visit.
Jardín, founded in 1864, is considered by many to be the most beautiful and best preserved town in Antioquia. In my travels to the many towns in Antioquia thus far, I have to agree. I haven’t been to a more colorful and well-kept town as of yet. I don’t think I’ll find one (Ed. Note 7 Dec 2015 – But wait! Read about Jericó!). Usually most town plazas have the best preserved and most colorful colonial buildings in the entire town. Once you’ve seen the plaza, you’ve seen the town. That’s definitely not the case with Jardín. Its proud residents have made sure that just about every building in town is kept up to date without losing their cultural heritage. We found evidence of this walking down side streets several blocks from the plaza.
Finely represented as one of Colombia’s prestigious Pueblos de Patrimonio, Jardín was well worth the effort to get to. On our first visit, we had a few transportation issues along the way and arrived three hours later than scheduled after being misinformed of bus schedules, but the moment we arrived we realized this was the perfect place to spend our weekend. The only thing that could’ve made it better was the sun.
The main plaza is the most well-cared for I’ve seen in Antioquia. It’s filled with perfectly manicured shrubs and has a fountain in the center. Some booths off to the corners sell crafts and souvenirs while others sell fruit or fast food.
The church is considered among the most beautiful in the country. It has a brick exterior and interior with gold leaf trim.
Many brightly colored colonial buildings with balconies line the streets around the plaza. They’re mostly bars, restaurants, cafés, and hotels.
Museo Clara Rojas
The Museo Clara Rojas is worth a quick visit. It’s an original colonial house that was built by the daughter of one of the founders of the town. Admission is free with an optional donation. An enthusiastic guide will take you through the rooms and explain the history of the town in about a half hour.
Some of the rooms have period furniture and original artifacts. Another room has a huge mural of important people in the town’s history.
The garden and courtyard showcase the architecture of the time while another locked room displays several photos and original artifacts from the past two centuries.
The Plaza at Night
At night, Jardín’s plaza comes alive. The many bars and cafés around the plaza put colorful chairs and tables in the center for people to sit and have drinks. Men and women on horseback ride through the streets and “park” their horses at the bars. Street vendors sell fast food. Music blasts from every direction. It’s quite a scene.
Outside of Jardín’s plaza is a cable car that takes passengers up to a viewpoint and a church on a hill across the way. The cable car is open until 6pm. We arrived at 5:30pm but were turned away because there were too many people on the other side that had to get back. A ticket costs COP$5,000 per person (as of July 2015).
On the other side of town is another cable car. It’s at La Garrucha, which is a deep ravine. This cable car, which used to transport coffee and plantains, now lifts people to a high viewpoint that has a café. Rides cost COP$3,000 one way (as of July 2017).
It’s a very romantic setting with incredible views of the town and surrounding countryside.
The café serves empanadas and drinks, sometimes until after midnight. The cable car runs until the café closes for the night.
For visitors with more time to spend, there are several opportunities to visit the natural areas around Jardín, including ecological tours and trails, nature preserves, waterfalls, ravines, caves, and traditional fincas (plantations). Just like the rest of the region, the scenery is spectacular.