The coffee tradition is a symbol of national culture for which Colombia has gained worldwide recognition. The Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia is a continuing productive landscape consisting of a series of six sites, which integrate eighteen urban settlements.
Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia
The Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia is a continuing productive landscape consisting of a series of six farming landscapes, which integrate eighteen urban settlements.
Not to be confused with the Coffee Triangle (or Coffee Axis), this World Heritage property illustrates natural, economic, and cultural features, combined in a mountainous area with collaboratively farmed coffee plantations, some of these in clearings of high forest.
Coffee represents a cultural tradition in Colombia. More than 100 years ago it was introduced to the country and the crops were adapted to an environment surrounded by three cordilleras of the Andes.
The coffee farms are located on steep mountain ranges with vertiginous slopes of over 25% (55 degrees), characteristic of the challenging coffee terrain. These unusual geographic features also affect the small orthogonal plot layouts and influence the architectural typology, lifestyle, and land-use techniques of the cafeteros (coffee growers).
The distinctive way of life of the cafeteros is based on legacies that have been passed down from generation to generation and is linked to their traditional landownership and the distinctive small farm production system.
The volcanic soils, altitude, and temperature of the equatorial zone provided an appropriate environment for the development of coffee production across its territory. This generated a cultural identity related to its cultivation which was sustained by the hard work of Colombian farmers.
The property encompasses six farming landscapes, which include 18 urban centers on the foothills of the western and central ranges of the Andes Mountains in the west of the country. It reflects a centennial tradition of coffee growing in small plots in the high forest and the way farmers have adapted cultivation to difficult mountain conditions.
The urban areas, mainly situated on the relatively flat tops of hills above sloping coffee fields, are characterized by the architecture of the Antioquian colonization with Spanish influence. Building materials were, and remain in some areas, cob and pleated cane for the walls with clay tiles for the roofs.
The typical architecture in the urban settlements is a fusion between the Spanish cultural patterns and the indigenous culture of the region adapted as well to the coffee growing process, through for example their sliding roofs.
Houses function as both dwelling units and centers of economic activity, with walls built in the traditional, more flexible and dynamic 'bahareque' constructive system, and covered by a layer of bamboo well known for its resistance and malleability. Over fifty percent of the walls are still built using this traditional method.
The Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia is the result of the adaptation process of Antioquian settlers, who arrived in the 19th century, a process which persists to this day and has created an economy and culture deeply rooted in the coffee production tradition.