Salamina the ‘City of Light’, is the perfect alternative to Salento

In the midst of the mountains of northern Caldas, the ‘City of Light’ of Colombia, Salamina, declared a National Monument and a National Asset of Cultural Interest, highlights its cultural and historical legacy through its colonial houses, balconies, steep streets and its extensive religious tradition.

This municipality, founded in 1825 and today inhabited by more than 18,000 people, was the birthplace of Mother María Berenice Duque, the nun who is in the process of beatification by Pope Francis since 2018.

The catholic temples have given way to the construction of the cultural identity of this beautiful municipality. Wwhile other municipalities in Caldas exhibit and are recognized for their panel, coffee or mining culture, the people of Salamina proudly preserve the religious legacy of their history.

In this guide you will have the necessary information for your visit to this beautiful town, and also how to get to know the wax palm neat to it.

Discovering Salamina

The town was founded in 1825, Salamina is known as “The City of Light” of Caldas. Its name “the city of light” is due to the fact that many famous poets and actors have come from this traditional paisa town.

One of the most traditional and important events for the people of Salamina is the celebration of Holy Week, which enjoys great renown at the departmental and national level, as well as the “Night of Fire”, the celebration of the day of the Immaculate Conception, patron saint of this municipality.

The night of every December 7 and 8, the streets and balconies of the town are decorated with thousands of lanterns and lights to pay homage to the Virgin Mary.

Salamina is located north of the department of Caldas and has a township called San Felix is located 74 Km away from Manizales, the capital of the department.

Moreover, Salamina is a beautiful town with streets of iconic wattle and daub houses and clay tiles, the average temperature in Salento is 23 ºC (73ºF) and it is located at an altitude of 1,775 meters above sea level.

Salamina is considered a representative of the paisas’ traditions and customs because of its well preserved 19th century architecture.

How to get to Salamina

Take a 1-hour flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Airport La Nubia (MZL) at Manizales city. Once in Manizales you take an approximately 2-hours ride (75 Km) to Salamina.

Remember that you can get to Manizales from any of the major cities in the country by air.

In addition, if you wish to take the overland route from Bogota, the journey takes 9-hours and 365 Km.

Where to stay in Salamina

In Salamina you will find a great infrastructure, depending on your budget and personal tastes you can choose; our recommendations for you are:

  • Las Marias Family Home
  • La Estancia Hotel Boutique
  • Hospedaje Casa Real

Salamina Attractions and Activities

La Pila de Salamina

It is a fountain that you cannot miss, it is located in the central square of the town and is an imitation of another one that can be found in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. It is considered the most beautiful fountain in Colombia.

It is said that it was brought to the country via Barranquilla and transported by the Magdalena River to the department of Tolima where it was then transported by mule to Salamina.

Visit to the Rodrigo Jiménez Mejía House of Culture

It is considered the most important architectural jewel of Salamina thanks to the wood finishes, beautiful balconies, majestic doors, lintels carved with figures and lanterns complete a wonderful set.

Visit the San Esteban Cemetery

It has a chapel of gothic architecture, beautiful gardens and a relaxing view of the mountain.

When you walk through the cemetery you can notice the socio-economic differences of some tombs, since in ancient times the dead were buried in certain places of the cemetery as a distribution of the social classes of the former inhabitants of the town.

The Natural Forest of Wax Palm La Samaria

Wax Palm Forest

Located just 30 km away from Salamina’s urban, this forest is one of the most amazing and best preserved corners that the department of Caldas offers.

Unlike the Cocora Valley in Salento, Quindio, in this forest there is not much noise, nor commerce around. It is a place with more tranquility, more contact with nature, a solitude that will help you to have that encounter with yourself.

Besides, the forest is the habitat of one of the most beautiful birds in America, the yellow-eared parrot lives in the canopy of these immense plants.


We recommend you visit the  “Mirador de la Samaria”, where you will be able to do birdwatching, and check one of the most representative birds of the region, the woodpecker and one of the most beautiful birds of America, the yellow-eared parrot that inhabit the tops of the immense wax palms.

The entrance fee to the forest is COP 10,000 and you can stay in the forest for a maximum of 7 hours.

Taking into account the above you can decide when you can know the beautiful town of Salamina. Plan your trip with us!

About the author

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.