Visit Lorica travel guide: heritage town on the Caribbean coast

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What if we told you that Lorica wasn’t on our travel itinerary? What if we told you that we had finally decided to stop there to “cut” the journey between Necocli and Cartagena? What if we told you that we had no idea what we were going to find there? What if we told you that Lorica turned out to be a wonderful surprise on our trip?

For us, Lorica was an image of a yellow and red building on the banks of a river, and that was about it. Then we did a little research and discovered that to visit Lorica, a heritage town in Colombia, is to plunge into an unusual history, combining European, indigenous, African and… Arab heritage!

We therefore warmly recommend that you read our post, which we hope will inspire you, like us, to make the detour and discover a town and region that are not very touristy!

Disclaimer: we apologize in advance for any grammatical or syntactic errors, as our native language is not English (we're a Colombian-French couple), so we hope you'll forgive us and still enjoy the information we share with you! Please note that all the information on our blog is based on our own experience, and is checked and updated regularly.

Arriving in Lorica

VISIT LORICA, COLOMBIA’S HERITAGE town

Visit Lorica travel guide: heritage town on the Caribbean coast

The first thing that strikes you when you arrive in Lorica is its lack of charm and the sheer number of motorcycles! The bus from Monteria leaves us at the side of the main road. We find a motocarro that will take us to our hotel.

With our noses to the wind, we spent the first evening in a restaurant near the main square and the cathedral, serving small oriental dishes and discovering a book on Lorica’sLebanese-Syrian heritage. The tone was set.

The next morning we headed to the market where we discovered the small tourist office. Explaining that we were travel bloggers and wanted to find out more about the town, the staff put us in touch with a history teacher who was going to give a tour of the town with pupils from the local school. Luck was on our side!

We met him in front of the mural depicting the history of Lorica. Once the students had arrived, the fascinating story of a town with a glorious past began.

History of Lorica

VISIT LORICA, COLOMBIA’S HERITAGE town

Visit Lorica travel guide: heritage town on the Caribbean coast

Until the middle of the 20th century, Lorica was the most important river port in the Colombian Caribbean. Its strategic location on the Rio Sinu attracted all kinds of import and export goods, and of course all kinds of merchants, from the indigenous Zenues, who came from their remote towns to sell their produce, to the curious Lebanese and Syrian immigrants who settled in Lorica between the end of the 19th century and the 1930s.

This immense commercial crossroads gave rise to an equally immense cultural mix, which is reflected today in the well-preserved architecture of Lorica’s historic center. With influences from traditional, colonial, republican and Arab-Andalusian architecture!

Today, you’d have to look hard to find any traces of the Lebanese-Syrian presence in Lorica, but certain gastronomic dishes, buildings and even family names bear witness to this curious Arab influence, quite unique in a country like Colombia.

As you can see, Lorica grew up around trade and the river, reaching its peak and golden age in the 1940s. The town boasted a booming river port, certainly the largest in Colombia, an airport that no longer exists and factories renowned for their butter, cheese and soft drinks.

Then, with the arrival of roads and road transport, and the creation of a new administrative capital in Monteria, Lorica’s influence slowly waned until it became a quiet little town on the Colombian Caribbean.

The historic center of Lorica

VISIT LORICA, COLOMBIA’S HERITAGE town

Visit Lorica travel guide: heritage town on the Caribbean coast

As you can see, Lorica’s main attraction lies in the beauty and atmosphere of its small historic center. Made up of just a few streets between the church square and the Sinu river, it’s nonetheless great fun to walk around it again and again.

Here, you’ll see sublime, colorful buildings combining so-called “republican” and “Mudejar” architecture, with the halls of its famous public market as a focal point. The streets are teeming with vendors and artisans. Every street corner is an opportunity to meet the locals, curious to see us pacing the alleys with our cameras.

Just a stone’s throw from the covered market halls is Lorica’s “popular” market for fruit, vegetables, fish and other staples. The atmosphere here is bustling and a little sultry, like an organized brothel typical of Colombian street markets.

Lorica public market

Lorica’s heritage

Built in 1929, Lorica’s public market has been declared a national monument of Colombia. It’s the city’s most emblematic monument, and it’s got a lot to live up to!

With its steps descending directly into the water, it takes on the air of a Hindu temple on the banks of an imaginary Ganges. Its red and yellow colors contrast with those of the river and the surrounding buildings.

With its lively mix of craft stalls and old-fashioned food courts, it’s the ideal place to come for lunch at one of the many kiosks/restaurants, all offering typical cuisine based on fresh market produce. That day, we had the pleasure of meeting Mayo, chef of her little restaurant “Donde Mayo”, with whom we talked about Lorica and her childhood memories. Another of Lorica’s secret encounters..

Our Loriqueñas encounters

VISIT LORICA, COLOMBIA’S HERITAGE town

Visit Lorica travel guide: heritage town on the Caribbean coast

Against all odds, Lorica is going to be one of the places where we meet the most people! Our day in Lorica will be remembered for the faces and stories that make the trip so special.

We’ll long remember Freddy the cobbler and our politically-charged conversation… Julio and Adel the retired shopkeepers who tell us the story of the little house and suggest we climb into a friend’s room to admire it from the heights… Of course Nicolas the history teacher and his passion for Lorica’s history.. Arnaldo the watchmaker, who tells us how it’s getting harder and harder to make a living from his trade these days, with all the Chinese products… Mayo the cook, who remembers the native pirogues that used to come and sell their banana bunches… Juan and Henriette from the tourist office, and their enthusiasm for helping people discover their region, far, far off the beaten track..

Lorica was definitely a wonderful surprise for us! Of course, our experience, the way we discovered the city, the chance we had to meet so many people, has influenced the way we feel today. It’s up to you to invent your own discovery of Lorica, but we’re sure you’ll have a rich and unique experience.

There’s more to discover in the region, too, as you drive on to Conveñas, where the Caribbean coast offers beaches and coconut palms, the Bahia de Cispata a rich ecosystem and a tranquil atmosphere far from the touristy spots. Offshore, the famous San Bernardo archipelago and the no less famous Isla Mucura await you with their heavenly beaches.

Pictures from Lorica

Pictures to come back to

Where to stay in Lorica

Lorica, the best hotels

Onoma Hotel

Hotel

Onoma Hotel

Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

It was a lady we met on the bus who recommended the Onoma Hotel (formerly La perla del Sinu). It’s conveniently located next to the main square and not far from the tourist malecon, the promenade that runs alongside the river. The hotel offers a nice view from some rooms and especially from the rooftop terrace!

How to get to Lorica

BUS | Monteria <> Lorica (1h30)

  • Fare : $10 000 COP
  • Company: Buseta locale

To get to Lorica from Necocli (which we did), first take a bus from Necocli to Monteria.

BUS | Cartagena <> Lorica (4h)

  • Fare: $30.000 COP
  • Company: Expresso Brasilia
  • We travelled with Expresso Brasilia in the opposite direction, on large, very comfortable buses. Ask which bus to take “via al mar” and make as few stops as possible.

Where to eat in Lorica

Gastronomy is one of Lorica’s great assets. Indeed, Syrian and Lebanese traditions, the product of migration, have left their mark on the region’s cuisine. So you’ll find Lebanese restaurants and dishes in the main square.

But we really recommend eating in the halls of the Public Market. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to eat good, traditional food at very good prices. As we explained above, we chose to eat at “Donde Mayo”, a very nice woman who grew up in the market, as her grandmother and mother also had a restaurant in the market. As we ate, Mayo told us her story of how the market has changed over the years – a lovely moment.

If you go, we recommend you try “Sarapa”, Lorica’s traditional dish, a meal cooked and served in a banana leaf. You can also try Bocachico, the region’s typical fish. We also recommend corozo juice, typical of the Caribbean region.

  • Price of lunch for 2: $22.000 COP including soup, main course and corozo juice.

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Authors

Angélica & Samuel

We are Angélica and Samuel, a French-Colombian couple, professional photographers and web editors specializing in travel to Colombia. We created this blog to change the image of the country, help you prepare your trip and inspire you to discover Colombia in a different way!

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