A town that looks like an oil painting, where each color highlights the beauty of its streets and landscapes, becoming a joyful sight for the eyes of visitors. Its mountains, as productive as its people, teach us the history of a municipality located in the mountains of Southwest Antioquia, 130 km (four hours) away from Medellín.
The road to this place takes us through the most beautiful landscapes of Antioquia. Between its curved roads and passing through Bolombolo, we find perhaps one of the most wonderful natural creations that our department has: a hill with a pointed tip, known as Cerro Tusa.
Entering Jardín, I find a municipality that with its 230 square kilometer area has houses with balconies and windows of vibrant colors like scarlet, yellow, green, orange and blue.
The macana (black palm) wood present in the balconies and windows of the houses of the town has been used since the colonial period. Its courtyards built with stone brought from the quarry of the Serranías path are fundamental elements in the houses that surround the park of this municipality. It was founded in 1863 by Indalecio Peláez.
The main square in Jardín has stools that combine materials such as leather and wood together with colorful tables. It is the ideal place to have a good time with family and friends alike.
Its approximately 14,500 inhabitants enjoy having a coffee while sitting at the tables of the park in the mornings. And, among its streets, a saying is shared: “Jardín Park is a reception room with a thousand leather stools.”
A man sits with a friendly smile and accompanied by his friend Guillermo, who wears a blue shirt and a well-groomed beard as they enjoy a hot coffee and a pleasant conversation.
–Watch out, my face will break your camera lens.
In order to narrate and describe each and every corner of Jardín, I must describe the colors that are most common among its landscapes.
The aroma of fresh coffee awakens Wilson Franco very early and reminds him that it is time to get up to work on his farm with his father Leonel Franco in the village of San Bartolo, located on the outskirts of Jardín.
Each of the hectares of this farm have crops of coffee, onion, cilantro and strawberry guava, a fruit that creates a delicious contrast with the milk they use to turn it into juice and give it to their guests. The more than 14,000 coffee trees that are planted give life to the fruit that with its scarlet color, becomes one of the most beautiful characteristics of coffee plantations. After it is collected by farmers, it must go through a long process to become one of the most popular products in the cups of Colombians and foreigners.
-It turns out that Juan Valdez, so that he continues to stay young, renews it every 30 years and the one that currently represents him, Carlos Castañeda, is from Jardín.
–And, what is his story?
–Carlos Castañeda was a humble farmer who had two hectares of land and used to go to Jardín on Saturdays to shop. One of those Saturdays, when he was about to return to his farm some photographers who had the arduous task of traveling the country in search of people similar to Juan Valdez saw him and asked him for a photo and his information, to which Carlos agreed. After a few months, in which he attended conventions and interviews, he was contacted because he had been among the 4 finalists of a contest, and 100,000,000 pesos were deposited into his bank account.
–Finally, Carlos Castañeda was selected as the new image to represent Colombian coffee and now lives in a farm in La Ceja, to be closer to José María Córdoba Airport.
Great natural wealth characterizes this municipality. It is surrounded by mountains and hills like Mirador Cristo Rey, Alto de la Garrucha, Cerro el Cuchillón, Alto de las Flores, Alto de la Cruz and part of Farallones del Citará. These hills give life to a place that is described by many as lovely.
Each of the names of its mountains have a meaning given by its inhabitants. For example, in the case of Alto de la Cruz, it takes its name because it is a mountain with a large cross on its tip, which seems to hang from the sky.
In the earth of the mountains of this municipality grow fruits such as avocado and banana, which bring greater diversity to the economy of the region.
Painting the mountains and adding leafiness and texture to each of its corners are the avocado crops, which with their fruit trees make these mountains more beautiful.
Their avocado trees have a standard height so that farmers who are responsible for collecting the fruit can pick it when it is of an appropriate size. With their hands, they have the power to select the best avocados to be taken to places far and wide.
The avocado farms we are going to visit are named Pentagon 1 and Pentagon 2.
-It turns out that five friends started this project to grow avocado and that as partners they bought the land to cultivate it. For this reason, the farms are called “Pentagon”.
–From the top of the mountain you can see the avocado packing plant, where tons of fruit arrive to be washed, selected, packed and sent to national and international territories in the harvest season 2.200 tons.
This packing plant manages to generate around 170 jobs in the area. Germany, Holland and England have had the opportunity to taste avocado produced in the region.
Refreshing the town on warm days are rivers and streams like the Quebrada Volcanos that flows with strength into Charco Corazón; the beautiful natural pool and Río de la Planta, located in Vereda la Salada.
Río de la Planta has its name, because the electrical plant that supplied energy many years ago operated there.
The rivers and streams of Jardín arrive with force to the San Juan River of the municipality of Andes, which after a long journey reaches the Cauca River, through Bolombolo.
In its murky waters grows one of the flagship products of Jardín, which is the rainbow trout. This represents one of the pillars of the economy of the municipality.
The movement of the pulley is no longer something that frightens Stiven, a 9-year-old boy, who without any fear climbs into the yellow and green cable car that is taken up from Alto de la Garrucha to the town.
In two minutes, this box moves to facilitate transportation from the top of the mountain to the village, accompanied by a side-to-side movement caused by the wind.
The pulley leaves approximately every hour or whenever it is requested.
Only two or three people can use this means of transport at a time. It is also possible to walk down to town, following a path that is drawn in the middle of the uncovered road. This tour lasts approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
“What makes the sunset in Jardín beautiful is when you look west over the Farallones del Citará” Luz Mary Rendón, inhabitant of Jardín.
One of the main tourist attractions of Jardín is the gastronomy, where the trout is the protagonist in its typical dishes. The traditional coffee sweets and fruit jams also have an important place.
To enjoy their desserts, there is a place known as Dulces del Jardín, where around 50 varieties of different sweets are found.
The spoon of arequipe moca melts in your mouth, bringing to the palate the sweet flavor of arequipe and a tenuous presence of coffee that becomes an irresistible dessert for many tourists who visit the place. The sweets of Mariella Arango are famous.
-I started selling jelly at my dad’s house in Jardín.
–Over time, tourists came asking for more products, to which I asked them to come in a week when I would have new sweets.
-That’s how my business grew, and it became a reason for my family not to leave Jardín and for all of us to work here.
–In 2005 we won a contest called Antójate de Antioquia, and we won six prizes for six different products.
-With great devotion, Mariella lights a candle and places it in front of the small crib she has in her business. At the same time her husband Gerardo builds a cross to celebrate May 3rd, a symbol that is used on this date, where the Catholics of the town go up to make a pilgrimage to Alto de la Cruz and a special mass is celebrated at the top of the mountain.
The bells of the church, brought from Hamburg Germany, celebrate the arrival of this date and chime every 15 minutes.
In the park, people carry small crosses made of wood to celebrate the day of the Holy Cross and pray in their homes the 1,000 Jesus, which is a tradition in Antioquia that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Places to visit:
Museum house Clara Rojas Peláez: located in the frame of the square exhibits the most beautiful pieces of art from Quito, collections of popular art, archaeological objects, ancient elements, among others. It is a place to get to know the Antioquia culture and in a local fashion.
Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception: Was built between 1918 and 1932 and retains a Gothic and Baroque design by the Italian architect Giovanni Buscaglione. The material was extracted by the Jardin locals of the quarry located in Serranías path.
Splendor Cave: Is one of the natural wonders that is hidden in the municipality. it is a cave that has powerful waterfalls inside, turning this place into a magical experience.
Where should I eat?
Bon Appetit Restaurant: A restaurant with Italian food, where you can find lots of diversity in their dishes. The atmosphere is friendly and pleasant.
La Argelia: Located in La Salada village, this place has fish and you can enjoy the typical rainbow trout in various presentations. You also have the possibility to live a more complete experience when you get to see the panela-making process and enjoy delicious desserts that are for sale here.
Dulces del Jardín: this place will allow you to taste the sweet tradition of this municipality through more than 50 varieties of sweets. You can taste each of them before buying them.
Café Macanas: Café Macanas is close to the park, and with its delicious and varied coffee preparations you can share with your family and friends a space that holds typical old articles of Antioquia culture such as its tiles and crockery.
Where should I sleep?
Hotel Jardín: located close to the main park is a hotel that by its colors and colonial architecture draws the attention of those who visit the town. It has comfortable rooms and a beautiful view from its balconies. This is one of the oldest buildings in town.
Hotel Hacienda Balandú: 800 meters from the urban area of Jardín, near the Quebrada la Bonita. A place that invites you to rest and share with nature. You will find comfortable standard rooms and suites.
Hotel Passiflora: a hotel with 9 fully-equipped rooms. Inside there is a restaurant called Óleo Bistró, which has national and international food, provides bar services with national and imported liquors and a buffet breakfast.