Cali (Santiago de Cali) is a city located in the west of Colombia, it was founded by the Spanish adventurer Sebastian de Belalkazar in 1536. It is now the capital of the department of Valle del Cauca. Kali is a Native American word, which among different nationalities means both “sewn without needles”, and “wet”, and “house”. During the period of the colonial yoke and for a long time after Colombia gained independence, Cali did not play a significant role in the life of the country and began to develop only after the railway was built in 1914. The third largest city in Colombia, Cali lies in the southwestern part of the Western Cordillera chain, at an altitude of 995 meters above sea level, in the picturesque valley of the Cauca River.
The sights of Cali include the Church of Iglesia de La Merced (XVII century – the oldest church of Cali) on Caiedo Square, the Church of Iglesia de San Antonio on a hill near the city center, Plaza de Toros de Canaberalejo – venue for traditional bullfights, the Museum of Colonial Art in the monastery adjoining the cathedral, the Archaeological Museum with an extensive collection of objects from the pre-Columbian period, the small Museo del Oro gold museum with a collection of gold items from the Calima culture, the Museum of Contemporary Art Museo de Arte Moderno la -Tertullia, Museum of Natural History Federico-Carlos-Lehmann-Valencia, Experimental Theater of Cali (TEC), Sugar Cane Museum, numerous salsa halls (“salsothecas”) along the north bank of the river and in the Juancito area and the zoo. The architecture of Cali is strongly influenced by the Spanish Mudéjar style, which intertwined elements of Moorish and Gothic art. The city is decorated with many ancient and modern temples. On the mountain, called Crystal, rises the statue of Christ the King – a smaller copy of the famous sculpture of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
Near the city, the traditional place of pilgrimage deserves attention – the Monumento de las Tres Cruces monument on the top of the mountain, one of the most beautiful colonial houses of the country – the Casas Gordas hacienda on the southern outskirts of Cali, the Farallones de Cali National Park and the Reserva- Natural-Ato-Biejo. Numerous old sugar baron estates, which are now used as small museums, the haciendas of El Paraiso and Piehechinche 40 km from the city, as well as archaeological sites of pre-Columbian civilizations in the archaeological parks of Tierradentro and San Agustín.
South of Cali, in the department of Valle del Cauca, lies the main Pacific port for Colombia – Buenaventura. Founded approximately in 1545, the city was almost destroyed by the Indians in 1600 and later rebuilt, becoming one of the largest ports in South America after the opening of the Panama Canal (1914). Now it is a quiet, but eternally active city, as if divided by the sea into two parts. Cascajal Island is a cosmopolitan and bustling business district, where things are always being loaded or unloaded, office lights are shining and cars are noisy. The mainland of Buenaventura, the Los Angeles region, is a conglomerate of small villages with quiet shops and small churches in a distinctive local style. Between Buenaventura and Cali, a modern highway has been laid, known not only as a highway,
Northwest of Buenaventura lie the rapidly growing resort towns of Vaia Solano and El Valle. The long sea shores here stand out for their pristine nature – the Pacific region began to develop as a resort quite recently, at the end of the 20th century, so tourists have not yet had time to flood these places. However, there are excellent beaches here (Playa Larga in El Valle is especially distinguished by this), many first-class hotels have been built, regular excursions are organized along local rivers to the selva, or by sea to the Pacific islands of Gorgon, Gorgonilla and Malpelo. Nearby is the Ensenada de Utra National Park, which includes the island of Isla de Salamis, in whose waters numerous whales and dolphins feel at home.
Gorgon Island National Park, which protects natural forests and coral reefs near the island, is located on the site of a former criminal prison, so the park office, museum, residential buildings and the only restaurant on the island are all located in the gloomy but picturesque premises of this penitentiary. The beaches of Playa Blanca, Playa Pizarro, Playa Palmeros and Playa Yundica are also good, as well as the fantastically beautiful seaside of Baia Cocal, from where you can see the island of Gargonilla.