History in Villa de Leyva

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Villa de Leyva history dates back to June 12, 1572, when the site in the Zaquenapa Valley was founded by Corregidor Hernan Suarez de Villalobos at the commission of President Andres Diaz Venero de Leyva. On December 14, 1572, Don Juan Ofa Lora, Corregidor of the City of Tunja ratified the establishment of the settlement.

Villa de Leyva was relocated to the east in 1575 in order to restore indigenous lands which had been seized. The area around Villa de Leyva was occupied by the "Muiscas" tribe, which is considered to be the most important Indian tribe in Colombia. They were an extremely clever tribe with an excellent knowledge of agriculture, pottery and astronomy. Twelve years later, in 1584, Villa de Leyva was moved to its current location.

In the southwest corner of the plaza, the Iglesia Parroquil (parish church) with steps was built in 1608.

During this colonial period, Villa de Leyva was a principal provider of olive oil as well as wheat and barley. Villa de Leyva was an attractive place for Spanish families and a resting area for Spanish viceroys.

Modern History of Villa de Leyva

Villa de Leyva was the home of Captain Antonio Ricaurte. Ricuarte was the hero of the Battle of San Mateo during the War of Independence. The General and President of the New Republic, Antonio Narino, spent his final days in the town. He died in 1823 and his home, Casa de Narino, is open for tourists to visit.

The First Congress of the United Provinces met in Villa de Leyva in 1812. In 1830, construction was started on a road connecting Villa de Leyva with Tunja (bypassing Arabuco). The access provided by this road both permitted and facilitated the development of the Villa de Leyva area.

A variety of fossils have been found in the vicinity of Villa de Leyva. A Plesiosaurus, believed to be more than 115 million years old, was discovered in the area in 1945. The area also contained the remains of an Ichtyosaurus, a marine reptile, that's believed to have lived 110 to 115 million years ago. The finding of these remains indicate that Villa de Leyva was immersed by the sea before the formation of the Andes Mountains.

Villa de Leyva was declared a national monument in 1954. The entire town was preserved with no modern architecture.

April 19, 2010 change by 2 many commas

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