Known as the ‘City of Open Doors’, Manizales is the capital of Colombia’s Caldas department. Nestled in the Cordillera Central mountain range, it forms part of the Paisa region and the renowned Colombian coffee-growers axis. Founded in 1849, the city is currently going through a period of economic, industrial and cultural growth, which has in turn led to an increase in tourist numbers. It has a population of almost 387,000.
Manizales’s Andean location allows the city to benefit from a variable climate and a diverse environment, all in the shadow of imposing snow-capped mountains. As one of the eight regions of the world with a recognised microclimate, in just two hours tourists can go from enjoying comfortable, warm weather to experiencing a significant drop in temperature among the bountiful snowfalls of Nevado del Ruiz.
Theatre, symphonies, ballet, concerts and sporting events, all featuring some of the world’s most famous names, are not uncommon in the city, especially at the beginning of January, when the world-renowned Manizales Fair takes place.
Unsurprisingly, the cornerstone of Manizales’ economy is coffee. However, industrial exports, agricultural tools, foods, electrical appliances, chemical products and manufacturing now make up a significant portion of local GDP.
Manizales, famed for the friendliness of its people, is also a magnet for eco-tourists, due to its abundant flora and fauna and ecological reserves such as Ecoparque los Yarumos, the Rio Blanco reserve, Ecoparque los Alcazares and Recinto del Pensamiento. The area also benefits from extraordinary hot springs, in close vicinity to the city.
The city’s inhabitants tend to follow the fortunes of Once Caldas, a team that rose to fame in 2004 by lifting the Copa Libertadores trophy for the first time in its history. Then coach Luis Fernando Montoya’s men were just the second side from Colombia ever to be crowned champions of South America, following Atletico Medellin's triumph in 1989, and they did so with a memorable win on penalties over Argentinian giants Boca Juniors.
Manizales has also successfully played host to other international competitions – confirming its residents’ fervour for the beautiful game in the process – such as the 2001 Copa America and the 2005 South American U-20 Championship. On both occasions, Colombia were crowned champions.