At a not-very-well-publicised site, Parque Arqueologico de Monquira, near the historic colonial town of Villa de Leyva, Colombia, we spent quite some time wandering among the henge-like stones, menhirs, erected at what is thought to be the site of an ancient solar observatory, known as the Observatorio Solar Muisca, after the pre-Columbian peoples who lived there. It is about 4 km from Villa de Leiva, is the Parque Arqueológico de Monquirá, otherwise known as El Infiernito. This is one of the most important Muisca religious sites in the country and features the only solar observatory in Colombia as well, as a dolmen burial site:
The site was discovered by the Spanish who baulked at the enormous stone penises and proclaimed that the Muisca would be banished to hell, hence the name ‘El Infiernito’ (hell). The burial sites have been extensively damaged by grave robbers, and the stone used by local campesinos to build their homes. What remains has been studied and maintained since the 1960s by archaeologist Eliecer Silva Célis, with the support of the Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de Colombia.”
Such sites always really thrill me, being a connection to people way back in the mists of time – the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge and Obiri Rock, even the relatively recent Bayeux Tapestry all had enormous impacts, too… even dining seafood at a waterfront restaurant in Barcelona focused my thoughts on the amazing concept of continual inhabitation of that area by people since Neolithic times in Europe, perhaps 6,500 years ago.