The city of Armenia is the capital of the Quindío department and part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia. It’s the third largest and least exciting of the three major cities in the coffee growing region of Colombia.
Armenia is seedy and pretty much a waste to visit other than the fantastic Museo del Oro Quimbaya. On the positive side, its location and reasonably priced hotels make it a great base to visit several nearby attractions such as Parque del Café, PANACA, Recuca, the town of Salento, Valle de Cocora, and Jardín Botánico del Quindío in Calarcá.
Plaza de Bolívar
Plaza de Bolívar is the main plaza in Armenia. On the Saturdays that I visited, there were different events occurring, including a craft market and an indigenous ceremony. Around the plaza you will find the tallest building in Armenia, some restaurants, cafés, bars, and shops. In the middle are a couple of monuments, including one of liberator Simón Bolívar.
Situated on Plaza de Bolívar is the modern Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción. It was built after the original historic cathedral was destroyed in a devastating earthquake in 1999.
Plaza de la Alcaldía
The other plaza I visited was Plaza de la Alcaldía (City Hall Plaza) which unsurprisingly is the home of Armenia’s city hall. I didn’t feel particularly safe in this plaza.
A beautiful church called Iglesia de San Francisco is also located on the plaza. It was built in 1929.
Museo del Oro Quimbaya
The best attraction by far is the Museo del Oro Quimbaya. It’s a free attraction on the outskirts of the city and well worth the trip. The museum contains hundreds of impressive artifacts made of gold that have been found in the region. They tell the story of the indigenous people, their customs, beliefs, and lifestyle.
The rear of the museum contains a beautiful garden of several plant species found in the region. These plants were used by the indigenous people in one way or another, including for medicinal purposes and food. A taxi to the museum from the city center costs about COP$8,000 one way.
Most of the museum is in Spanish, but some info panels are written in English. On our visits, only once was there an English speaking guide available.