The name Tierradentro says it all – amazing underground tombs are scattered around the slopes of this most scenic valley. Scientists believe that between the 7th and 9th Century these tombs, the only ones of this kind in the Americas, were dug out of soft volcanic rock to place urns filled with bones. Thus these tombs are secondary burial sites, which means the dead were initially first buried in tiny stone chambers and later moved to here.
The minute we arrived we fell in love with the place and immediately agreed to stay for a few days. Although for those in a rush, the various burials sites could be visited in one day. At the entrance of the archaeological park, we received a little map that suggested following a 4 hour circular walk that covers all five sites.
Segovia, the most important burial site, is an easy 25 minutes climb, there a warden received us and opened one tomb after the other for us to climb down. The opening of these tombs is covered with a kind of lid which is closed with a padlock, so much for security. Of the 28 tombs at the Segovia site, about 12 are accessible and lit. Most fascinating, they are quite different, some are up to 9 meter deep, other only a few steps below. The bigger ones have pillars to support the doomed roof. Many are decorated with geometric motifs in red, black or white colors. Some of the pillars or niches are embellished with faces carved into the rock. One was even full with urns scattered around, which to us look more like big pots.
The climb down gets easier with each tomb, but the huge steps often made us wish to have legs like a giant. Actually it takes quite a while to visit all of Segovia, especially if there are a few visitors around, only two or three people can squeeze into one tomb.
After another short climb we reached El Duende. These tombs are less impressive, but the walk and the view are not to be missed. We skipped El Tablon because the sculptures displayed there are not that great and headed straight for San Andres, the very village. The village church took us by surprise, an old adobe building from the 18th century with a thatched roof, like out of a movie.
Almost all houses had coffee beans spread out in front to dry in the sun, even the street was used to do so. At La Portada, the only restaurant in San Andres, we enjoyed an excellent lunch and were shown around the house made of bamboo. Incredibly beautiful! Leonardo, the owner, had built this, as well as the hostel across the road, so new that nobody knows about it yet. All the hostels are a few kilometers down the road, next to the entrance of the museum.
By then the temperature made us call it a day and explore El Aquacate and Alto the San Andres – on the other slope of the valley – the next day. Happily we retreated to our latest favorite hostel – El Refugio. After spending 354 days travelling Around The World and staying in 174 different places, we have become almost obsessed with judging the quality of our temporary home, and for € 17.50 this place rules. Nice, quiet rooms arranged around a garden and a deep blue pool.