A lovely city high atop a ridge in the Cordillera Central, Manizales, Colombia, lies 157 mi/254 km south of Medellin. The city is one of Colombia's most attractive and least threatening urban centers, and is the most convenient access point for exploring the Zona Cafetera and the Parque de los Nevados, just a 90-minute drive to the east; the snow-capped peaks can be seen from the city.

Manizales has several universities and institutes, which lend the city a youthful energy.

Don't miss the huge (although ungainly) Gothic cathedral in Plaza de Bolivar, the central square; for a small fee you can ascend the spire—the tallest in Colombia—for a sweeping view of the city. The Bolivar Condor monument, dedicated to Simon Bolivar, is one of the city's other prime attractions.

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