The Rock of Guatapé or Piedra del Peñol.
It lies between Guatapé and El Peñol, two towns in the Antioquia province, an hour and a half drive from Medellín.
This is a real curiosity, a tourist attraction whose interest has been multiplied by events in the region.
A big transformation indeed!
But before going to the foot of this majestic rock, we stopped at the town of Guatapé.
The city of Guatapé
We could call it the city of a thousand colors!
It’s not just a few colorful buildings or a few artworks on the streets.
No! Every house is painted in blazing hues. Some are also adorned with paintings of animals, figures, or even representations of occupations.
Of course, I wondered why?
Simply because some families started to brighten their homes, the other inhabitants liked the result and followed suit.
Only for the eye’s delight!
The Rock of Guatapé
A double curiosity! Not only by its appearance but also by its surprising history.
Let’s start with its geological creation
The Rock of Guatapé is over 70 million years old. This granite block of magma trapped and cooled inside the earth’s crust has appeared over the centuries. Harder than the surrounding rocks, it remained intact as the enclosing landscape eroded.
If two-thirds of its height is still underground, the exposed part 200 m high is visible from a distance.
And now its history
It was in 1954 that Luis Eduardo Villegas López, the first Colombian mountaineer from Guatapé, conquered the rock. For this ascension, he used a very particular technique. As he ascended, he built a staircase by inserting wooden planks into the cracks of the rock.
Proud of his achievement, he purchased the rock. There he built a series of 715 steps to make the top accessible and started charging for entrance.
The rock still belongs to its descendants. They live off the benefits of the 5,000 visitors who come here every day.
Controversy; for there is one…
The question that is debated is on which commune the Rock of Guatapé is located in — El Peñol or Guatapé, each having a legitimate reason to claim the rock.
Originally, El Peñol, founded in 1714, adjoined the rock.
In 1970, following the construction of the dam which flooded the region, El Peñol was moved farther and Guatapé became the nearest town. Delighted by this turning point and to mark their territory, the inhabitants of Guatapé began to inscribe the name of their city at the top of the rock.
But their initiative was quickly stopped by the protest of the inhabitants of El Peñol. Hence the GI, the beginning of Guatapé, the U remained in suspense.
As everyone stood their ground and the conflict worsened, the government had to intervene. They officially put a stop to “the work”, claiming that it was against the law to degrade a natural monument.
But they could not end the quarrel that is still going on today.
If the reservoir was designed to generate hydroelectric power, it has also become a popular site for water sports.
A breathtaking view…
After a half-an-hour ascent — the view is deserved — we walked onto the top terrace to enjoy the view.
When I discovered this landscape, I found it beautiful but somewhat unreal.
This part of Colombia is mountainous, and yet I had a wetland landscape in front of me. Something was wrong… and of course because it was in fact a landscape reshaped by the creation of the reservoir. Amazing!
This stunning result makes the region so beautiful and unique.