Image: Antonio J. Velez Q/CreativeComms
Guadalajara de Buga is the formal name for this old city in Colombia founded in 1555 under the order of Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar. Buga is most famous for the Basílica del Señor de los Milagros which houses El Señor de los Milagros (the lord of the miracles) and is 57 kilometers or 36 miles from Cali.
The elevation of Buga is 979 meters above sea level and is located at 3.90 latitude and -76.30 longitude. The population of the area is 118,004 making Buga the 6th biggest city in the Valle del Cauca department of Colombia.
Read more: 7 Cali foods your stomach will thank you for
But before you visit Buga you need to know the story of the miracle. This is a condensed version of the story.
An old woman was saving all of her money to buy a crucifix for her home. She earned her living by washing clothes for her neighbor’s in the nearby river. She had finally saved up enough money to buy the crucifix but on her way to town to buy it she passed a man who was going to prison. She gave him her money to keep him from going to jail. The man was so overwhelmed with gratitude that he blessed her for saving him.
Some days later as the woman was washing clothes the current pushed something into her hands, it was a crucifix like the one she was going to buy with the money she gave to save the man from prison. She took it home and built an alter for it. She fell asleep and was awoken by a knocking sound at the wooden alter she had constructed.
The crucifix continued to grow over the years, even after the old woman had passed. It became a life size image of Christ on the cross. Pilgrims came from everywhere to pray in front of this cross and at one point the mayor ordered it to be burned. The fire was lit, but once the crucifix was placed amid the flames it was not consumed. Instead, the image of Jesus’ body began to sweat. It continued to sweat for two days thereafter, drawing even greater crowds of people, many of whom were sick but went forth completely cured.
In 1875 the construction of what is now called Basílica del Señor de los Milagros started with a beautiful bell tower imported from France. This Basilica is one of the most visited places of worship in Colombia.
The Basilica and the surrounding city of Buga is a delightful place to visit. There is so much more to see in the outskirts of this magnificent old town. Just a short drive outside of the city will take you to the place where the miracle reportedly occurred. Then a hike up the river will take you to the waterfall that feeds the river where the little old lady first found the crucifix.
The spiritual presence will strike you when you feel the spray of the towering cascade hit your face. It is a place where you can reflect on your love of the Universe and the nature that surrounds you. You can continue to climb further past the waterfall and look for the monkeys that live in the trees. The birds and butterflies that are all around will make this journey well worth the hike, which starts where the miracle took place as you cross an old bridge and continue upwards.
You can also visit an Hacienda and see what 150 years look like with a tour at my very good friend’s Hacienda Chimbilaco. This is a private estate in the country outside of Buga. When you arrive they welcome you with a tour of this very old home. Afterwards off you go to the natural pools and waterfalls that are part of the property. A short hike brings you to incredible beauty. The first waterfall is there to see, along with the natural pools surrounding it.
A not really cold entrance into the water will give you some much needed energy to climb to the other side with another beautiful waterfall and natural pool. A fun time with friends and some snacks can sustain you until you get back to the Hacienda Chimbilaco where you will be served a traditional Colombian lunch surrounded by friends.
All of what I have listed is without much cost. The Basilica is always open and the viewing of Jesus on the cross is up the stairs behind the alter. The city offers many shops and restaurants. There are also more churches to see besides the famous Basilica.
If you spend time in the city you must stop at my friends hostel called Buga Hostel at Carrera #4-83. I highly recommend his place to stay for those traveling on a budget. He brews his own beer and offers a great bar with a good menu of light food which includes vegetarian also. Buga is a must see when visiting the Valle del Cauca department of Colombia.
Read more: What to do with three weeks in Colombia
More things to do in Buga:
- Just stroll the streets and find the main park where an iguana that is fed by the locals lives in a tree to entertain the tourists.
- Look for local street musicians who play the guitar while you stroll by.
- Stop in any of the local panaderias for a taste of the wonderful bread that is made fresh daily while sipping wonderful Colombian coffee.
- Look at all the old buildings as you wander the town of Buga and enjoy the doors and architecture that will surely fascinate you with their beautiful designs.
Buga is a must see for all people who visit the Valle del Cauca department of Colombia.
Pin this post for later!
This guest post was written by Michele Carson. Michele is the owner of Villa Migelita an exclusive Bed and Breakfast in the Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Michele moved to Colombia from the United States and renovated an old house into a hotel that offers Western service with Colombian flair. They take guests on personal tours with English-speaking guides to many wonderful tourist destinations. Visit their website www.villamigelita.com, Facebook or Instagram. Michele loves to share videos and photos of the natural beauty and tourist destinations of my department in Colombia.