The story goes that a little town about an hour north of Medellín was the region’s first settlement, the place where Spanish fleeing the inquisition came to make their own way.
Sante Fe de Antioquia was the department’s (state’s) first capital, perhaps the same way Philadelphia was once the first capital of the United States before governmental center moved south to Washington, D.C.
Sante Fe is a must-see in the area, at least for a day trip, a place that’s easy to get to and easier to fall in love with. The old buildings, the nice people, the market that sells arts and crafts every Saturday…it’s worth the trip.
It’s only 9,000 pesos to get there (about $4.50) and it’s a nice drive through the mountains. There’s one stop, in San Jerónimo, a great place to go for a weekend getaway to a finca, a quaint town like Sante Fe, just not as charming as the one-time capital.
You know you’re basically there when you cross a steel yellow bridge, a humble version of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, a very humble version. But I liked the Sante Fe bridge better. Humble is a common trait of the paisas and it’s very endearing, definitely one of my favorite things about them.
The bus will drop you off about two blocks south of Plaza Mayor. Just walk northwest to Carrera 10, about a half block, then head southwest on the cobblestone street that will take you to the plaza.
I was supposed to go on a recent Sunday but a friend and I changed the trip to Saturday. It was a good decision. We got to the see the market. She bought a couple gifts for family back in the states, a small bag and one of those tiny replicas of the pretty architecture that all the buildings there boast.
There are restaurants all around the plaza too. We ate at one just northwest of the market. The sign only said “restaurante” and the outdoor balcony seating was good enough for me.
The food was pretty good too. I had sancocho, barbecue chicken, rice, platanos, salad and juice for 8,000 pesos, about $4.
We later headed to the Iglesia de Santa Bárbara and the neighboring Museo de Arte Religioso but we were told they were closed for renovations, apparently for about 8 months. We found something else.
Across the street, we went to an art gallery called La Caravana del Arte en Movimiento. There were lots of kids there for an art class in a central courtyard, surrounded by paintings on the walls. It was nice. If I had a few thousand dollars to spare, I probably would have bought one of the paintings.
After a drink next door at a restaurant called La Comedia, we decided to head back to Medellín. Instead of taking the bus, we took one of those small transport vans, which turned out to be better because the driver agreed to stop for me at this roadside market that sits right before you go through the toll and mountain tunnel.
You can buy a huge bag, maybe 8 to 10 pounds, of fruits and vegetables for only 10,000 pesos ($5). I’ll take that every time.