Popayán has a nice collection of colonial churches scattered throughout the whitewashed historic city center. They were all closed until after 3:30pm on the Friday I visited but I was able to admire most of them from the outside.
Iglesia de San Francisco
The biggest and most beautiful of the churches is Iglesia de San Francisco. It’s known as one of the best examples of baroque architecture in Colombia.
Inside, there are several beautiful wooden altars. In 1983, an earthquake cracked open the church exposing two mummies. We didn’t get to see them.
Iglesia de San Agustín
The only other church I was able to enter was Iglesia de San Agustín. The original church was built in the late 17th century but destroyed in an earthquake in 1736. The current church is the one that was rebuilt after the earthquake.
Catedral Basílica Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
In Parque Caldas is the cathedral, Catedral Basílica Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. It was originally a straw hut, but in 1609 a mud and brick structure was built. The current church was built between 1859 and 1906.
Other churches I passed by were Iglesia de San José (1702), Iglesia de Santo Domingo, and Popayán’s oldest church, La Ermita, which dates back to 1546.
Not as noticeable were Iglesia de la Encarnación and Iglesia del Carmen.
Capilla de Belén
On a hill outside of town is Capilla de Belén. The original chapel was built in 1717 but destroyed in the 1983 earthquake. There are also some nice views of the city. To reach it, there are a series of stone steps. We decided to take a taxi because locals told us it might not be safe to walk up.