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Upon arriving through a dirt road, the river sound welcomes you to the Monastery of La Candelaria, an ideal place for spiritual retreat, located between Ráquira and Villa de Leyva, in Boyacá.

This religious center built in the seventeenth century, was the first construction of the Augustinian Recollect in America. Surprisingly, Father Agustin Mateo Delgado chose  a deserted  valley and not a summit as most Spaniards were used to since they thought mountain tops were a better place to be dedicate for prayer and reflection in the community. Mean while, some hermits living around the area in caves near by, were invited to join as guest of this monastery.


In this region, known as El Desierto de la Candelaria or Desert of the souls, the neogranadino “new granada style” Writer Pedro Solis Valenzuela wrote "The prodigious Desert", considered the first Hispanic American novels.
Now the monastery serves as a retreat of the Augustinian Fathers but also provides restaurant services and lodging for visitors who are looking for a place to rest, meditate or simply relax. The arches resting on the half height columns and the brick floors of the monastery are an ideal place to reach such tranquility.

From the town square known as the “compass” you can see the garden, the cemetery, the temple and the entrance to the museum, where you will find a collection of paintings made by various artists from the colony, which highlights the Bogotá native Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos.

Today, the area around the Monastery of La Candelaria is no longer a desert, lots of greenery and Vegetation is not in place where there once was an oasis. Neither do hermits walk through the gates, but visitors can find the necessary peace and silence to explore deep within their souls.

 

 

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