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National Archaeological Park of Tierradentro*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Tombs in Tierra Dentro
State Party  Colombia
Type Cultural
Criteria iii
Reference 743
Region** Latin America and the Caribbean
Inscription history
Inscription 1995  (19th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Tierradentro is a National archeological park in the jurisdiction of the municipality of Inza, Department of Cauca. The park is located 100 km away from the capital of the Department, Popayán.

The area is very well known for its pre-Columbian hypogea, which were found in several excavations, and are divided in many archeological places. some of them are: Alto del Aguacate (Avocado Hill), Alto de San Andrés, Alto de Segovia, Alto del Duende and El Tablón.

The typical hypogeum has an entry oriented towards the west, a spiral staircase and a main chamber, usually 5 to 8 meters below the surface, with several lesser chambers around, each one containing a corpse. The walls are painted with geometric, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic patterns in red, black and white. Some statues and remains of pottery and fabrics can be seen scarcely due to grave robbery before the hypogea were constituted as protected areas.

The precolombian culture that created this funeral complex inhabited this area during the first millennium A.C. Tierradentro Archaeological park features hypogea dating from 6th to 9th centuries AD. The details in the sculptures and pictoric patterns are similar to the San Agustín culture.

The park generates significant revenue to the local economy due to the high volume of tourists, both Colombian and foreigners. These sites form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

External links

Coordinates: 2°34′59″N 76°01′59″W / 2.583°N 76.033°W / 2.583; -76.033


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

South America : Colombia : Pacifica : Cauca : Tierradentro

Tierradentro is in the department of Cauca in Colombia.


Tierradentro region famous for is painted underground burial chambers, a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Not much is known about the pre-Colombian civilization who created the burial chambers.

Get in

San Andres de Pisimbala or simply San Andres is the tiny hamlet where most people stay.

  • From Popayan : several busses a day make the 5 hour ride to Tierradentro. Some will drop you off at a place called El Cruz from where it's a 2 km walk to San Andres.
  • From San Agustín : you first have to go to Pitalito and then get a bus to La Plata which leaves at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. From there you can take bus to San Andres at 4 p.m.

Get around

All sites are within easy walking distance. It's possible to visit all of them in one day.


Near the entrance of the park there are two museums. An archeological museum with pottery, statues and interesting information (in Spanish) and an ethnological museum with interesting information about the Paez Indians who nowadays live in the surrounding mountains.

From the entrance there are two walks. One will lead to Segovia a extensive site with the best preserved burial chambers and the only ones with light. Further up is the site El Duende with some more burial chambers. And close to San Andres is El Tablon with statues similar to the ones in San Agustín.

The other walk will lead to Aguacatala sitting on top of a mountain. The views are amazing, but most of the burial chambers are not maintained at all. Close to San Andres is the site Alto de San Andres.


There is no bank nor cashpoint. Take enough money especially in small bills, changing your 20.000 bills can be hard.

Bring a torch before going to Tierradentro. The ones available in San Andres are bad.


In San Andres there is only one restaurant, you can't miss it.


There are several budget recidencials renting out rooms and cooking meals. One of them is a old lady called Marta which has rooms for COP$8.000 and a meal cost around COP$2.000.

Stay safe

Tierradentro is guerrilla area, but till now they haven't harmed tourist. Armed conflicts between guerrilla and military aren't uncommon, inform the situation before setting off.

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