Coffee Cultural Landscape Region – UNESCO World Heritage
Adriana Gómez Alzate
Manizales, half mountain city in the Colombian Coffee-Grower axis, is located in one of the regions with major biodiversity in the world; the tropical Andes, which is one of the 25 priority areas to preserve life on the earth. The urban shape of the city reflects the adaptation to a very broken and rugged topography with very particular characteristics due to its geographical location. The urban growth has been organically adapting to this topographic condition. The constructions are integrated to the natural, where urban and diverse landscapes take place.
The quality of the landscape surrounding the city is mainly given by the variability of climate from high mountain scenery snow, to large valleys mostly cultivated with coffee and affluent by its mountainous relief shapes. The city’s altitude of 2.150 meters above sea level allows the weather to vary within a radius of 30 kilometers, between 0 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit and altitudes from 5,000 to 150 meters above sea level.
The UNESCO declared the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia as a World Heritage. This was a proud moment for Colombians but above all, for the coffee growers and people who lived in the zones that are a part of this patrimony because it is a worldwide recognition. Caldas, Quindío, Risaralda and Valle del Cauca are a part of the UNESCO declaration. The most important thing is that now even international efforts are being put to take care and protect it.
Manizales’ Historical and Traditional Center possesses a very important architectural and landscape heritage. This area has an intense public activity, cold climate and generally a cloudy atmosphere. The traditional architecture of the city is simple and homogenous, typical of the “Antioquenian Colonization” architecture, with houses built of bahareque, white walls in lime and carved woodwork. In addition, Manizales has a representative urban and architectural heritage of the republican period, considered the greatest complex of the Republican architecture in the country.
Moreover, Manizales is, in the country, the city with the largest number of educational entities or artistic practice (visual arts, dance, theater, literature and music) registered per million of inhabitants (according to the Competitiveness Council 2008), and the Coffee-Grower axis is recognized as cultural and university region. The city has more than 100.000 students, 14 universities, 12 research and development institutes and the biggest Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Center for research and development in Latin America.
1 Architect graduated from the National University of Colombia, PhD in Sustainability, Technology and Humanism, Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain. Researcher at the Institute of Investigations in Social and Human Science, Director of the Master’s Degree in Design and Interactive Creation, Professor of the Visual Design Department at The University of Caldas, Manizales, Colombia. Member of the Observatory for the Sustainability of the Heritage in Cultural Landscapes, UNESCO Chair, National University of Colombia, Manizales.
2 UNESCO. www.unesco.org