One of the things I like the most about living and traveling in Colombia is the authenticity of many of its destinations. In any other neighboring country, I have no doubt that the charming Jardin (literally: Garden) would be a tourist trap, but being in Colombia – and only 134 km from Medellin – people in this calm place seems to not care much about us, the small group of very-touristy –looking bloggers invited by Medellin.travel, loaded with cameras and smartphones trying to capture the magic of that warm September morning.
Back in 1860, Jardin used to be a huge Hacienda built in the traditional Spanish way: a main plaza right in the center – now the Parque Libertador , one of the few plazas named after Simon Bolivar without a bust of the Libertador- and little organized and parallel streets surrounding it. The actual Plaza is the first place that calls my attention due to the amount of beautiful tall trees and the mandatory church (La Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepcion) that actually has a very interesting history: it was built out of sins. You read it right, when the town priest decided it was time to build a proper church for Jardineños to show their faith, he decided the best way to do it was to “charge” for their sins, so instead of prayers, they’d offer stones and bricks to God, and so the Basilica was finished in a few years not without some hiccups: the huge tower bell had to be transported by 200 men during a whole night all the way from the rival town of Andes, where the train rails finished.
By the church side we can find some of the old tiendas known by their traditional names (Cero Cero, Coca Cola, las Cuchillas and Café del Atrio) although their official names changed long time ago.
The rural architecture is indeed beautiful and obviously inspired by olden time Spain houses complete with interior patios, ceramic tiles crowning the roofs combined with the usual finca colors: blue, red and green
Jardineños are very proud of their history, and that shows in the nearby museum Clara Rosa Rojas Perez, dedicated to the historical memory of Jardin, among other curiosities you can see a photo gallery that goes back to the first years of last century. This gallery demonstrates why they claim that the women of Jardin are the prettiest in Colombia. Besides this curiosity there’s a very interesting display of how life was in Jardin during the 19th and early 20th century, and a big mural that commemorates some of Jardin’s most illustrious citizens, including a sweet lady nicknamed “La Viuda Alegre” (The Jolly Widow), a formerly rich lady who lost her mind her last years and used to wander the streets of the town claiming she owned it.
We finished our visit at “Dulces del Jardin” a little shop run by Mariela Gildardo that sells traditional Jardin sweets and deserts, some of the best I have tried in Colombia!
Due to our packed agenda our visit to Jardin wasn’t as long as we would have liked, there’s much more to do not only in the town, but also in the surroundings: Quebrada Bonita and the caves of “El Esplendor” are definitely in See Colombia team’s check list.