Located in the heart of the Andes, 6 hours from Popayán, Tierradentro is a sacred place where the descendants of the Paeces indigenous people live. This region is located at an altitude of 1,700 metres and includes the municipality of San Andrés de Pisimbalá. Visiting this territory is a unique opportunity to get in touch with the mysterious past of this ancestral people. In honour of their gods and their dead, the Paeces built deep and complex tombs decorated with geometric figures painted in white, red and black.
The archaeological park of Tierradentro, declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, also has an excellent ethnographic museum on the indigenous culture of the region. It is the second most important archaeological site in Colombia. Like San Agustin, famous for its statues, Tierradentro is famous for its underground tombs; archaeologists have discovered more than 100 funerary temples. A visit to Tierradentro is an incomparable and unforgettable experience in Colombia.
The largest underground burials (or hypogees) are mostly carved out of tuff (a kind of hardened volcanic ash). It is estimated that they took more than a year to build. They are sometimes decorated with bird, animal or geometric designs. Their size depends on the characteristics and shapes of the land in which they were built.
The social organisation of the people of the Tierradentro is quite similar to that of San Agustín, especially in the areas of agriculture and religious and funeral cults.
History of Tierradentro
The name “Tierradentro” (Land of the Interior) originated at the time of the conquistadors, who named this region after its topography, which is made up of numerous mountainous knots and deep canyons, giving the impression of being enclosed in the mountains.
The indigenous Paece (also known as Nasa) occupied this region long before the arrival of the Spanish. The Conquistadors found it very difficult to penetrate this mountainous region, where the indigenous people put up great resistance. Today, this people still occupy this region. They cultivate bananas, coffee, oranges and manioc thanks to the fertile land in the region.