Mountain Mecca – Monguí, Colombia


The drive to the Andean town of Monguí, just a few miles past Sogamoso, is beautiful as you travel up, up, up through Andean mountainscapes. Once you reach Monguí the mountain mecca charm takes over and it becomes clear why this place is part of the exclusive group of towns deemed Pueblos Patrimonios by the Colombian government.

Mongui Colombia Pueblo Patrimonial

The main plaza, stuck in time, in Monguí, Colombia.

The mountain mecca of Monguí

The road leading into Monguí winds and meanders through stands of eucalyptus trees which perfume the crisp, cold air. All of the cobble stone streets in town lead to the roomy main square which is anchored by the stately Nuestra Senora de Monguí church which was built in the 1500s.

At 9,500 feet (2,900 meters) it’s always chilly in Monguí, but the sun shines bright and despite the cold, flowers bloom everywhere in town bringing shocks of color to the traditional Colonial architecture of the buildings which are almost exclusively painted white with deep green and red trim.

Houses Mongui Colombia

Preserved architecture like this is just one reason the town of Monguí is part of Colombia’s elite Pueblos Patrimonios program.

There’s not much to do in Monguí and that’s sort of the point. We just wandered the streets for a couple of days and generally soaked up the quaintness. It was easy to see why Monguí is a Pueblo Patrimonio and even easier to see why some call Monguí a (very) mini Villa de Leyva.

Mongui Colombia

The typical colors of Monguí.

A mountain mystery in Monguí

There is one thing that seems out of place in Monguí. Small shops all around town are crammed to the rafters with soccer balls. For reasons that remain a mystery to us, the tiny town of Monguí has been a major producer of soccer balls for than 80 years. Today, hundreds of families make the balls by hand and hundreds of thousands of Monguí soccer balls are produced every year.

1715 bridge Mongui Colombia

The Calicanto bridge in Monguí was built in 1715 and the mortar holding it together is said to have been made with bull’s blood.

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