In Guatapa, every building is a work of art. Residents paint their homes and offices in gorgeous vibrant colors and decorate the floor of each building with ‘zocalos’-like murals. Guatape is sometimes called the most colorful city in the world.
With its steep, windy streets and vibrant colors, Guatape is perfectly photogenic, but it’s the zocalos murals that make it stand out. Some friezes are just plain cute: sunflowers, pigeons and sheep are especially popular. Other zocalos advertise businesses: loaves of bread in a bakery, sewing machines outside a clothing store. The most elaborate pieces of art are a few murals that tell of a journey, or a commemoration of history: musical instruments that mark the home of a famous local musician.
The zocalo tradition seems to have started about a century ago — no one knows for sure when or why — but in recent years it has gained particular popularity. Today, such art is strongly supported by the government because it helps make Guatape one of the most popular resort towns in Colombia and a favorite day trip destination from Medellin, a city two hours west.
Guatape is another Colombian marvel: the city sits on the banks of a strange reservoir that twists and turns in all sorts of directions. The town is in the shadow of El Penol, one of the largest cliffs in the world, to the top of which you can climb an amazing staircase.