San Juan de Pasto: a little history
Very close to the famousQhapaq Ñan, the Royal Inca Road that then linked the Pasto region to Santiago de Chile for more than 6,000 km, San Juan de Pasto was founded in 1537, in the fertile Atriz valley, at the foot of the volcano Galeras, still active. Initially populated by the Indian Quillacingas and Pastos, the territory was federated by the Inca Empire.
The Spaniards went to this region because they were looking for land crossing points to be able to trade with the Inca empire, which was very rich at that time. It was therefore quite natural that they decided to found the city there, in order to trade with the masters of the Andes. Very quickly, the city turns into animportant cultural and religious center, you can admire many andsuperb churches and colonial buildings. The city is known for the Pasto varnish, a vegetable resin processed to paint wooden pieces with bright colors and for its great shamanic pilgrimages.
Heirs to a thousand-year-old culture and two great empires, the Pastusos are considered the most valiant of Colombians.
Unfortunately, earthquakes have destroyed part of its architectural heritage although a handful of churches and palaces have been rebuilt in their original styles. The indigenous people of the department of Nariño are the descendants of the Inca empire.
When to go to San Juan de Pasto and Nariño?
Wondering when to go? The city of Pasto can be visited all year round with a preference for the months of July and August during which there is less rainfall.
Equipment needed to go to San Juan de Pasto and Nariño?
During your stay, bring cold weather clothing.
What are themain events of San Juan de Pasto?
- December 28: the Day of the Innocents, a pre-carnival tradition during which everyone throws water on the streets.
- January 2-7: Don’t miss the Black and White Carnival if you are in the area on those dates!
This carnival, listed as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage in 2002 includes 4 stages: Carnavalito, where children between the ages of 6 and 14 demonstrate their creativity and the cultural heritage of the region; the Castañeda Family Parade, where people are seen dressed in period outfits; Black Day, where people dye themselves black from head to toe; and White Day, during which people dress in white and watch parades of floats topped by huge figures made by artisans.
This national event is really worth a visit and we strongly advise you to participate.
How to get to Pasto
BY PLANE: Antonio Nariño Airport is located 30 km from the city. Avianca and Satena airlines offer daily direct flights to Bogotá and Cali, and with stopovers to other major cities in the country.
BY BUS: The Pasto bus terminal provides connections to several major cities such as Popayán (6:00 am), Cali (9:00 am), Manizales (12:00 pm), Medellín (4:00 pm) and Bogotà (8:00 pm).
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