Manizales, the city of open doors

Manizales is the capital of the department of Caldas, located in central-western Colombia, on the Cordillera Central of the Andes, near the snow-capped mountain of Ruiz.

About Manizales

It is part of the so-called Coffee Triangle and has a population of approximately 454,077 inhabitants according to official 2022 demographic documents.

Ruth Medina Villanueva© Solke

The climate in Manizales varies throughout the year from 14 to 23 degrees Celsius. The hottest season is in June and lasts until early September.

Summers are cool with a temperate climate which is why it is necessary to be well covered from the cold at night.

Its metropolitan area, formed by the municipalities of Manizales, Neira, Villamaría, Palestina, and Chinchiná, reaches a population of more than 758,200 inhabitants.

In Manizales, it is possible to enjoy one of the most pleasant and enriching vacations imaginable.

It has different attractions and the peace and tranquility that we find in Manizales, make it a real charm.

The gastronomy of the region can be tasted in its typical restaurants.

History of the city

The lands on which the city of Manizales is located were inhabited in pre-Columbian times by quimbayas, armas, ansermas, pícaras, zopias, pácuras, cacicazgos and carrapas.

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The city was founded in 1849 by settlers from Antioquia.

Around the year 1880, the center of the city became an industrial center. This happened because coffee production and everything around it began to grow in the region.

During the thousand days war in the year 1900 and especially after, the importance of a superior county and the province of Caldas was born. Then, Manizales is designated as the capital of the province.

In 1880 Manizales had 10 sugar mills, eight weaving mills, one liquor factory, two tanneries, three shoe factories, three looms, and four saddleries.

The inauguration of the Caldas Railroad in 1919 connected the city with Puerto Caldas and in 1927 it was extended to reach Pereira and Armenia.

From 1950 to 1970, Manizales was consolidated as the coffee epicenter of Colombia and an important emporium in the western part of the country.

In the year 1943, the first university was opened in the city. Many new universities followed after that within Colombia was promoted as a university city.

Land of landscapes

The city of Manizales is located at an altitude of 2,153 meters above sea level, in the central region of the country on the Andes Mountains.

It is surrounded by exuberant landscapes and with a spectacular view of the Nevado del Ruiz, with an altitude of 5,321 meters above sea level.

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Due to its geographical location, in Manizales, you can enjoy diverse landscapes, such as snow-capped mountains, volcanoes, forests, mountains, and valleys.

Juanita Castro © Solkes

In the surroundings of the city, you can find thermal floors and varied relief formations, which consequently give rise to many natural resources.

To the west is the Santágueda Valley and to the east and south are the páramos and the perpetual snows of Los Nevados National Natural Park.

Incredibly, this city has a gray and cloudy appearance.

However, its appearance is due to its proximity to one of the most beautiful natural sceneries in Colombia, Los Nevados National Natural Park.

As if that were not enough, it is also known as the ‘water capital of the world‘.

This name is due to its geographic location and proximity to snow-capped peaks and moorlands, making it one of the cities in the world with the greatest water resources.

Making the difference

It is known as the City of Open Doors. It is also often called “MANIZALES DEL ALMA” for the famous song that bears his name, in recognition of the quality of its annual bullfighting fair is called “THE CITY OF FAIRS IN AMERICA”, for the delight of its coffee is the “WORLD CAPITAL OF COFFEE”.

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Manizales has become known in recent years worldwide for its constant cultural activity, its landscapes, gastronomy, and something very special about this coffee city, which is the hospitality and friendliness of its people.

The central business has been the cultivation and production of coffee, which has been related to the progress of development in the entire region.

This cultivation has led to the creation of new jobs and factories, such as beverages, footwear, rubber, chocolate, banks, coffee, sweets, metals, and others.

It even has large institutions and companies dedicated to the coffee sector, such as cooperatives, exporters, and many other industries dedicated to the processing of coffee.

But, there is a second large economy.

Due to the growth of universities in the second half of the 20th century, it became a university city. The universities offer courses of high academic level. This attracts students from other regions and provinces to Manizales.

Cultural aspects

One of the most outstanding aspects of the city is its wide cultural spectrum. Surely the biggest and most famous festival in Manizales Colombia is the Feria de Manizales.

The fair began in 1951 as a bullfighting and parade event.

Today it has become a festival for the opening of the bullfighting season.

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It is full of exhibitions, parades, international and national bands, and cultural shows.

Also during the festival, a beauty queen is elected, it is after the carnival in Barranquilla the biggest national festival.

It is also known for its annual fair and the International Theater Festival.

During this event, bullfights, handicraft exhibitions, parades, orchestra presentations, and the International Coffee Reign take place.

Currently, it has become a festival for the opening of the bullfighting season.

It is full of exhibitions, parades, international and national bands, and cultural shows.

Also during the festival, a beauty queen is elected, it is after the carnival in Barranquilla the biggest national festival.

Honoring their kindness, the people of Manizales celebrate with joy and tolerance, with civic culture and hospitality without limits.

It is also known for its annual fair and the International Theater Festival.

Ruth Medina Villanueva© Solkes

The largest cultural event held in the city. It is held annually.

It has a trajectory of more than 5 decades in which culture is highlighted for both Colombians and voters.

For this reason, it is the first meeting point for playwriting in America.

This festival is one of the largest theater festivals in South America since 1968.

The festival is very well organized, 700 companies from 40 different countries participate in it.

Another annual festival is the Jazz Festival, jazz musicians from all over the world come to this festival.

The museums in Manizales are: Museum Center of the University of Caldas which has a beautiful pre-Columbian collection; Samóga Museum of the National University and the Art Museum of Caldas.

To visit

This beautiful city has many tourist destinations to see. Some of them are the cathedral of Manizales, the viewpoint of Cyprus, the Yarumos Eco-park, and the ecological reserve of Rio Blanco.

Obviously, the city is full of beautiful architectural works and sculptures.

The Historic Center has about 200 old houses and it is here where we find the Palacio de la Gobernación.

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The Palacio de la Gobernación is impressively decorated in the Spanish Baroque style imitating the Rectory building of the University of Alcalá de Henares.

It is located in the Plaza Bolivar, which is adorned with a sculpture by Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt: The Bolivar Condor.

The Basilica Cathedral has 800 m2 of stained glass windows and its viewpoint at 100 meters above the central tower; it was at the time the tallest building in Colombia.

It was built in reinforced concrete, with an area of 2300 m² and a capacity for 5000 parishioners.

Currently, the images that crown the side towers are San Juan Bautista, San Juan María Vianey, San Pedro Claver and Santa Rosa de Lima.

Let’s start by saying that the Cathedral Basilica Nuestra Señora del Rosario is unquestionably beautiful and imposing. It is located in the center of the city in front of the Plaza de Bolivar.

The Mirador De Chipre is one of the best plans. From there you have an excellent panoramic view of the city, the mountain range, and two snow-capped mountains, Ruiz and Santa Isabel.

Juanita Castro © Solkes

Apart from everything, you can also see the valleys of the Cauca and Risaralda rivers. Inside the viewpoint, you can do extreme swinging and hiking outdoors at a height of 30 meters, and mechanical games for children and adults.

In the Ecoparque Los Yarumos you can enjoy activities such as climbing, canopy, and canyoning. You can also visit the waterfall of the seven colors.

One of the favorite activities for nature lovers is bird watching. In the park, there are approximately 180 species of birds such as the carraqui, guans, partridges, among others.

On the other hand, just 3 kilometers from the city of Manizales and located on the Central Andean mountain range of the department of Caldas, this forest reserve with the greatest biodiversity in the world and protector of natural resources.


Despite being a relatively small city, the quality of life in Manizales is excellent.

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Safety, health, and education are some of the things that Manizaleños are most proud of.

It is the ideal city for those who wish to immerse themselves in the coffee culture. There is also a special connection with nature.

After visiting it, one falls in love with the city. One falls in love with civility, order, and diversity.

Everyone shudders to hear the Manizalitas singing their anthem ‘Manizales beso tu nombre’ (Manizales I kiss your name) because they sing with passion.

The city of open doors always welcomes locals and visitors.

There are thousands of reasons to visit Manizales, and the more you get to know it the more you are surprised by all the tourist attractions you find in the beautiful city of open doors.

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