Situated between Colombia’s three main cities of Bogota, Medellin and Cali, Armenia is the capital of the Quindio Department and a major coffee growing centre. The Rio Quindio flows along its southern edge, with the snow-capped volcanoes of Los Nevados National Park framing the city to the north-east.
Armenia has been nicknamed “Ciudad Milagro”, or “Miracle City” due to the rapid rebuilding and fast urban development following the earthquake which devastated the city in 1999. Its modern architecture has been designed to withstand any future natural disasters, with the city clustered around Plaza de Bolivar with its distinctive triangular-shaped Catedral La Inmaculada Concepcion. The main commercial centre stretches east from here towards the leafy green space of Parque de la Vida with its roller-skating arena and picturesque tree-lined lake. In the far north-east of the city is the Museo del Oro Quimbaya which displays ancient gold and ceramic artefacts, many of which were created by Quimbaya craftsmen prior to Spanish arrival. The surrounding landscapes are swathed in coffee and banana plantations and dotted with ecotourism fincas and country clubs offering fishing, tennis and golfing facilities. It is a popular destination for Armenian tourists, as well as Latin Americans following the “Liberator Pathway” used by Simon Bolivar to move his army from the west of Colombia to Bogota during the 19th century campaign for independence from Spain.
Armenia is served by El Eden International Airport which has daily flights to Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena and Fort Lauderdale, while long-distances buses connect it with the surrounding towns and cities. Public buses are the main means of getting around the city, with affordable fixed-price taxis also available.
The city was founded by jaguar-hunter Jesús María Ocampo who came looking for shelter in the mountains of Quindio to escape Ecuadorian President General Gallo. It was originally called Villa Holguín, in honour of then-president Carlos Holguín Mallarino, before being renamed Armenia.
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