Popayán is the capital of the Colombian department of Cauca, and easily reachable by bus, only two hours south of the city of Cali. The town's nickname, "The White City," is inspired by the city centre that is filled with beautiful, white buildings that perhaps inspired the many Colombian artists and writers that originate from this area.
Along with its hostels, the town boasts a number of beautiful colonial churches -- the most famous are San Francisco, Santo Domingo, and San Agustín. The town is easily navigable on foot; most Popayán hostels are located around the main square of Parque Caldas, which is overlooked by the famous clock tower that has become an emblem of the city. As it is a centre of learning, there are a few good quality museums in the city with a range of themes. The Mosquera Museum focuses on colonial art; The Natural History Museum contains specimens that are native to the local area; and the National Museum Guillermo Valencia pays tribute to the poet and one of Popayán's most revered children, who was a main player in the Modernist school of writing of the early twentieth century. After a short walk from the centre, you can pay a visit to El Morro de Tulcán, the main architectural site of Popayán, where you can scale the prehistoric pyramid constructed by native tribes more than a thousand years ago.
Outside of the city, there is some beautiful nature only a stone's throw away. It is possible to visit the natural springs that are around thirty minutes away; you can pay to rent bikes at the companies that will drop you off around thirty kilometers up the mountain, and you can enjoy an easy downhill ride on the way straight back into the city. This ride gives travelers a perfect vantage point to see waterfalls, mountains, and the nearby valleys.
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