Located in the Colombian Andes between Bogota and Cali, Ibague is a city renowned for its musical heritage. It has been nicknamed The Musical Capital of Colombia and America”, home to the prestigious Conservatory of Tolima and numerous Colombian folklore festivities.
Plaza de Bolivar lies at the heart of the city centre, with a prominent statue of the “Liberator” and is flanked by the elaborate, whitewashed Cathedral of Immaculate Conception and the Conservatorio del Tolima. Founded in 1906, it has long played an important role in the city’s musical heritage and offers impressive views across Ibague from its top. Carrera 3 stretches south-east from here through the main commercial hub of the city which features a bronze sculpture of Cacica Dulima, a Pijao indigenous woman who was executed by the Spanish for guarding the freedom of her people. Also of note is the crumbling Panoptico Ibague, a 19th century prison built in the shape of a Greek cross which offers a fascinating insight into early prison architecture. To the north-east of the city is the picturesque Jardin Botanico San Jorge which features more than 500 species of plants, many of which are native to Colombia, along with its series of nature trails, while the Fundación Orquidea del Tolima lies to the south of the city. It boasts an outstanding collection of orchids, including Colombia’s national flower, the endangered Cattleya trianae, as well as views across Ibague from its lookout. The city also serves as the gateway for treks to the Nevado del Tolima, considered one of Colombia’s most beautiful volcanoes and set within the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados, home to the jungle, hot springs, waterfalls and glaciers.
Long-distance buses connect Ibague with Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta, while Perales Airport to the east of the city has flights to Bogota and Medellin. Public bus and taxi are the main means of getting around the city itself, although many sights are easily accessible on foot.
Ibague was founded around 40 kilometres to the west of its current location in 1550 as Villa de San Bonifacio de Ibague del Valle de las Lanzas. The indigenous Pijaos people opposed the Spanish colonisation, forcing the settlement to be re-founded at its current location less than a year later.