Manizales was founded by a group of 20 antioquians on October 12, 1849, in the middle of a civil war. Even though it is the capital city of the department of Caldas and the most important city in the nationâ€™s coffee region, Manizales is still physically part of Antioquia, the region where MedellĂn reigns supreme. This cityâ€™s culture has a strong Spanish influence, but its initial homogeneity has been tempered by other ethnic groups migrating to the city to attend its outstanding universities. Tango and rumba are the dances of choice here, and jazz is widely enjoyed as well.
Because of the climate, culture and landscape, Manizales resembles San Francisco, California, with its trendy eateries, chilled-out lifestyle and proximity to the outdoors. At 2,150 meters (7,054 ft), this city has a cool factor all its own. While the cityâ€™s commercial center around Plaza BolĂvar is a historical area, the university district and Zona Rosa show how Manizales can keep up with the times. The cityâ€™s harmonious blending of old and new makes it a pleasant place to spend a few days.