Tunja, Colombia

This album follows on from Bogot√° 5: Museo del Oro

I had Colombia down as essentially a landscape place. But so far it‚Äės mostly a history of Spanish America place. What I didn‚Äėt know and am only now discovering most other people apparently don‚Äėt know either. In Tunja we seemed to be the only tourists, even though the place just brims with reminders of the colonial past. Some of them spectacular. I‚Äėm sparing you much of it (and to some extent so did the people there: many doors didn‚Äėt open, even ones advertised as being supposed to do so).

The central square in Tunja (with La Catedral to the right) has that typical slightly forlorn Spanish colonial vastness, especially in the rain of course. The size is that of an entire block of the mandatory checkerboard street grid, and the houses bordering it are still at most two storeys high, as they were in colonial days.
Next day, now with sunshine.
Casa del Fundador. Somewhat extraordinary really. Guy comes from Spain, seizes some land, founds a town (the way one did, back in 1539), marries, builds a house. Fast-forward 500 years (almost), and the house is still there.
Casa del Fundador. This is that house.
Casa del Fundador. The Founder, Gonzalo Su√°rez Rend√≥n (M√°laga 1503 – Tunja 1583 or 1590), was a military man. He fought battles for Charles V in France, Hungary, Italy, and attended the emperor‚Äės coronation by the pope in Bologna in 1530. What was he seeking (or fleeing) when he embarked for the New World? He was part of the expedition force of Gonzalo Jim√©nez Quesada that left for the interior 800 men strong. 170 of them came out alive at the other end. Jim√©nez Quesada founded Bogot√° in 1538, Su√°rez Rend√≥n founded Tunja the year after.
Casa del Fundador. In fact, only the ground floor of the house was built by the Founder. The second floor was added by his widow, Menc√≠a de Figueroa y Godoy, and her second husband. Do√Īa Menc√≠a, quite a bit younger than Don Gonzalo, already had 4 children from that marriage, so maybe they needed more space.
The painted ceilings are the main glory of the new second floor.
Casa del Fundador
We were the only visitors. Had the place to ourselves, so to speak.
Casa del Fundador
Convent of the Poor Clares
Convent of the Poor Clares. As in Bogot√° the church is (apparently) quite spectacular, and a museum. But that door remained closed, even though according to the notice it should have been open.
For some reason that dog was fascinated by the little opening at the bottom of the door.
Casa del Escríbano del Rey (the white one with the green)
Casa del Escr√≠bano del Rey. This too should have been open but wasn‚Äėt. Until on the third try it was.
Casa del Escríbano del Rey. Original floor. The white bits are animal bones.
Casa del Escríbano del Rey
Casa del Escr√≠bano del Rey. The ‚ÄěKing‚Äės Scribe‚Äú was Juan Vargas. He arrived in 1564, apparently as a child. He built the house in the 1580s, and had some of the ceilings painted in a style similar to that of the Casa del Fundador around the corner.
Rhinos have not been seen in this neighbourhood since before the last ice age. So how did the artist know what they look like? To be sure there is one painted on the ceiling over at the Fundador‚Äės house too, but this one is nicer (and possibly earlier). It is assumed that it was copied from an illustration in some book. A scribe must have had those.
Casa del Escríbano del Rey. Kitchen. Again we were alone with the guide.
Casa del Escríbano del Rey. Kitchen and dining room. That thing on the left must be an oven.
Iglesia de San Francisco
Iglesia de San Francisco. The sole remaining wing of the double-storey cloister as seen from the lobby of our hotel, a 1970s high-rise apparently built partly on the site of the old Franciscan convent.
Iglesia de San Francisco
Iglesia de San Francisco. With live Franciscan friar.
Iglesia de San Francisco
Tower of the church of Santa B√°rbara, which I‚Äėm sparing you (though it is totally historical, plus lots of gaudy extra decoration — or should that be extra gaudy decoration — made with fluorescent lighting).

The former Dominican convent on the right (with complete double-storey cloister) is now the police headquarters. Except for the church itself.
Iglesia de Santo Domingo
Iglesia de Santo Domingo
Yes, that is fluorescent lighting. (But they have much more of this over at Santa B√°rbara. It makes for interesting combinations with the ancient carvings, which admittedly at Santa B√°rbara aren’t quite as spectacular as these.)
Iglesia de Santo Domingo
Iglesia de Santo Domingo. The inscription along the margin reads ‚ÄěThis chapel and tomb is of Captain Garc√≠a Arias Maldonado, his children and heirs. He died in the year 1568.‚Äú
Central square again. The church and convent (with double-storey cloister) on the left — to the right of the modern building — were those of the Jesuits. The church is vast but somehow bare, as if most of the furnishings were missing.

Next album: Villa de Leyva, Colombia