Barichara – Where Is Everybody?

Barichara, Colombia

The very first thing we noticed as soon we got off the bus in Barichara was how quiet everything was.

The empty street of Barichara
The empty street of Barichara
By Barichara's Main Square
By Barichara's Main Square

After the hustle and bustle of the main square of San Gil, and even Giron, the sight of a main square devoid of street food sellers, kids running around, and teenagers hanging out on the benches was striking.

As we were wandering around, we found that the stone streets of Barichara were almost always empty.

Every now and then an old person would walk by. He would stare at us in the same curious way I imagine we were staring at him. Glad to see somebody else is out and about.

There were walled courtyards half a block in length, but the colorful windows were shuttered closed, and the ornate, painted doors were padlocked.

Shuttered windows of Barichara, Colombia
Shuttered windows of Barichara, Colombia

It’s like the pueblo is entering its hibernation period.

Where is everybody?

Multiple scenarios to explain this phenomena were running through our head.

Do the adults work in the city and commute?

Maybe they work on their farms outside the pueblo?

Maybe there’s a zombie population that’s holding these villagers hostage. They come out at night and feast on them and that’s what’s causing the population to decline? This would surely explain the lack of kids in this pueblo. Kids can’t outrun zombies.

An old church in Barichara, Colombia
An old church in Barichara, Colombia

For a pueblo that has earned superlatives such as ‘most charming pueblo’, ‘most beautiful’, or ‘colonial gem’, we felt the pueblo was just a tad too quiet for our taste. Maybe it has done too good of a job of preserving a way of life from 200 years ago.

It doesn’t mean that it was boring to look at.

Oh no, quite the contrary, my friend.

Barichara has some very beautiful churches. The inside of the main church on the plaza was particularly beautiful to look at.

The main cathedral of Barichara
Inside of Barichara's cathedral
Inside of Barichara's Cathedral

But this is probably my favorite building in Barichara. Jack couldn’t stop making fun of me when I told him that ‘it screams character’.

My favorite church in Barichara, Colombia

But it does! Don’t you agree?

Barichara also has an old cemetery, filled with ornately designed and carved tombstones. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of taking pictures of churches and cemeteries.

Barichara cemetery

A guidebook describes the main church of Barichara as ‘seemingly too big for the city’. But I felt like the whole pueblo is too big for the population.

Barichara was photogenic, there’s no doubt about that.

But as we meandered around on its stone paved roads, and among blue and green painted doors and windows, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were walking around a Hollywood movie set – albeit a pretty one at that.

Info Box
The colonial town of Barichara can be reached by a local bus from San Gil. 40 minute ride (3600 COP). The bus station is located on Carrera 10 in San Gil.

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21 Replies to “Barichara – Where Is Everybody?”

  1. Thank you for this very informative post. This is valuable information for me since I plan on spending more than a few days in Barichara.

    I have posted the URL to my photography site, so you can get a look at a colonial town that's always hopping.

  2. I tripped over your post on this town where my sister lives. Her posts indicate a lively and cheerful environment full of artists. Look at retiredforgood.blogspot.com and you'll see what I mean. Many photos also. she has been there for over a year, and seems to like it a lot.

  3. The answer to why there are so few people there is kind of bland, actually. Barichara has become a place where some well-to-do Columbians have invested and bought some nice colonial homes. For many of them, it is a second home, so they will visit it on holidays and weekends. Also, since most of the homes are in their original colonial state (i.e. large) many people stay within the compound instead of heading out into the streets.

    It's too bad more tourists don't make it there as it is an incredibly beautiful place. It is a popular place to hold weddings, though, so if you're lucky a wedding will be held in town.

    1. Kyle, you just ruined our zombie apocalypse scenario 🙂 But no, I'm surprised too that not many people visit it, maybe that's why we were surprised at how quiet it was.

  4. Yea, I know what you mean. I was there about a month ago and while I think there were a few more people then, judging from the photos, it was still super quiet!

  5. That is strange… I've been to some pretty tiny pueblos but the streets were never empty during the day. Maybe a town meeting of some sort?

    PS – are you guys coming to Bogota soon?

    1. Unfortunately we have to be in Baños soon and we're running out of time so we're skipping Bogota 🙁 Too many things to see and not enough time.

    1. I've asked around and it seems that it's just the way it is. And it was late in the afternoon too when in the other pueblos you usually start seeing people heading to the plaza to hangout, you know?

  6. I vote for zombies as well….that is strange…did you ever find out what the deal was??? Absolutely gorgeous pictures you two…there was character EVERYWHERE in that zombie-filled pueblo!

  7. I agree with Tom on the worry side…no people around would make me feel either like I am somewhere I am not supposed to be, or that I am supposed to be somewhere where everybody else is!

  8. Eek how creepy/fantastic! Your description of the place being abandoned and almost totally devoid of children (not to mention the zombies) reminds me of a prettier version of 28 Days Later mixed with Children of Men for some reason though haha!

    I don't know how I'd react going to a place so quiet though…jubilation/extreme pangs of worry.

    Tom

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