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Armenia

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Introduction: Armenia is the capital of Colombia's Quindio department. It's located south of Pereira and Manizales, and just half an hour southwest of tiny but much-visited Salento. It's about seven or eight hours west of Bogota, around three hours north of Cali, and five hours south of Medellin. Just outside of Armenia you'll find the famed Nacional Parque del Cafe, Panaca, Recuca, and the Jardin Botanico de Quindio. This small city of around 300,000 was devestated by an earthquake in 1999 that leveled much of the city's architecture and left thousands dead. Due to the city's subsequent resurrection, it's often termed "Ciudad Milagro" or the Miracle City.

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Geography: 

Transportation: The bus terminal is located 1.5km to the southwest of the city. Armenia is a great stop-over spot because it is so close to many of the major attractions in Colombia. It's right in the middle of the Bogota/Cali/Medellin triangle, or the Triangulo de Oro, as its sometimes called in Spanish. It's about an hour to Pereira, two to Manizales, thirty minutes to Salento, eight hours to Bogota, six to Medellin, and four to Cali.

For intracity transportation, there is an abundance of cheap taxis, and a variety of cheap buses that mostly run on north/south routes, for $1.500. The bus system in Armenia is, appropriately, called Tinto (which means a black coffee in Colombia), and stands for Transporte Integrado Operador de Armenia.  There are around 20 numbered routes, so just ask locals which bus you should get on.

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What to See: Like its northern neighbor Pereira, Armenia doesn't afford a whole lot by way of tourist attractions. But there is the Parque de la Vida, located in the north of the city, and the Museo del Oro Quimbaya, where you'll find some excellent gold artifacts.

The heart of the city is the Plaza de Bolivar, where you'll find the government building of Quindio, the tallest in Armenia, and the city's main church, as well as a very interesting sculpture by Colombian artist Rodrigo Arenas Betancur, called Monumento al Esfuerzo (Monument to Force). It is inspired by the pioneering spirit of those who founded the city, having fled their homeland during times of political instability in Colombia.

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