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The History of Popayán

Popayán was another of the Colomban cities founded by orders of Sebastián de Belalcázar in 1536. It was initially governed by the Audencia Real de Quito, but then transferred under the administration of the Audencia Real de Bogotá. In the modern era, the city serves as the capital for Cauca Department.


Eleven of the nation's presidents were Patojos (or Payanés, both terms for natives of Popayán). One, Francisco José de Caldas (1771-1815), was also a scientist and director of the observatory in Bogotá. He discovered how to calculate altitude by the temperature at which water boils.

Popayán has suffered from numerous earthquakes over the centuries. One in 1736 destroyed most of the city. In March 1983 the city was once more leveled by a strong tremor. The colonial sector of this Ciudad Blanca has been carefully restored to its previous splendor. Some reconstruction work is yet going on.










11 Aug 2011



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