Today in our “Puebleando por Colombia” section, we are in Toledo, Antioquia. A rural municipality in the north of Antioquia it is located 174 KM from Medellin, about 4 hours by car, that covers the territory from the banks of the Cauca River to the head of the western mountain range.
So if you are in the capital of Antioquia these days, you have the opportunity to visit this beautiful township, full of peaceful landscapes and variable climate, where the sun exposes its mountains during the day and at night it disappears under the thick fog.
The history of Antioquia, like all regions of Colombia, is deeply marked by the indigenous people and the Spanish colony. As in all the national territory, the area’s first inhabitants were the indigenous communities. Specifically, in what is now the Toledo district, on the banks of the Cauca River inhabited by the Nutabes, under the command of the chief Guarcama, a community prolific in fishing and agriculture. When the conquistadors entered the territory in 1573, the area was known as the “Guarcama Valley”, later renamed “Valle de San Andrés”, in honor of the conquistador Andres de Valdivia, who would be assassinated three years later in territorial disputes with the indigenous people of the region. These confrontations ended at the end of 1580, with the Spanish dominion over the region and the foundation of San Andrés de Cuerquia, (named in honor of the conqueror and the aboriginal roots that originally inhabited the territory), one of the oldest townships of Antioquia , from which Toledo and San José de la Montaña were later detached.
It was not until 1890, after independence, due to the new political order and the modernizing project of the country, that the hamlet of Toldas was founded, belonging to the municipality of San Andrés de Cuerquia. In 1912 the municipality of Cordoba was founded, separating it from San Andres, and then a year later in 1913 by popular request headed by the conservative Catholic elite, which promoted the economic and social development of the region, the name was changed, for Toledo , because of the many families settled in the area had roots in Toledo, Spain.
As in most rural municipalities in Colombia, the main economic activity of the region is agriculture, mainly coffee, sugar cane, and avocado.
Likewise, being a constant in rural areas of Colombia, Toledo has also suffered the consequences of violence between guerrillas and paramilitaries and today continues to struggle to recover from the scourges of war. Recently, a mega-project, Hidroituango, a multi-billion dollar hydroelectric power plant that promises to spearhead the region’s development, has unfortunately been hindered by major corruption scandals. But despite these problems the region has seen a full recovery from the conflict.
Toledo and its surroundings are a natural jewel for nature lovers. Sport fishing, hiking, and bird watching are the main tourist attractions in the region.
Sport fishing in the Cauca River
The Cauca River is one of the most important rivers of Colombia, it crosses the heart of the country and was and has been one of the sources of economic development of all the regions through which it passes. It is no exception in Toledo, sport fishing has become a sustainable tourism option in the region, currently monitored by the environmental agreement between EPM and the Ituango hydroelectric plant.
Festivities of the Toldas Toledanas
From November 10 to 14, the Toledan festivities are held, which celebrate the more than 110 years of the municipality.
It is a cultural and festive week where artistic, cultural, and sporting events are organised. It begins with the dawn on November 10 and ends with the contest of Sancocho Montañero (a typical Colombian dish, which varies depending on the region where it is prepared). There are also curious events such as the “entaconados” (people in heels) race; roller cart races; troubadours and culebreros (people who tell stories in rhymes) contests; and the folkloric dance festival.
The valley of Toledo
It is a district of the municipality of Toledo, the headquarters of Hidro Ituango. It is characterized by its landscapes of fruit trees and a large number of ecological trails. Many people from Medellin and the country, fond of hiking come to this place to do the hike El Valle-Barrancas-Toledo, 8km of continuous ascent through the mountain, full of greenery and endemic birds of the region.
Guarcama and Pescadero Valley.
Located 14 kilometers from the municipal capital in the Corregimiento El Valle. The attraction of this site is the natural baths and some constructions of colonial architecture. It is said to be one of the first places where the indigenous and European cultures met. It is an area for camping, fishing, and hunting. The place can be reached on foot, on horseback, or by car. Tourists are recommended to bring camping equipment, fishing equipment, hunting equipment, and clothing for warm weather. There are no restaurants or lodging.
Las Melena’s Park
It is located 7 kilometers from the municipal capital in Vereda el Moral. The attraction of this site is the natural reserve of manes hanging from the trees, adorning the landscape and offering a spectacle of color and unique beauty. The site can be reached on foot or horseback. Tourists are advised to bring a rain tent and camping equipment. It is suggested to wear comfortable clothes that protect from the weather because of its mild climate. There are no restaurants or lodging.