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el penol stone

Rocks are part of our everyday lives. They form the brick for buildings we work in, asphalt for roads we drive on, and are laying around in parks and nature everywhere. We often overlook them or tend to view them as dirty and dull. However, the Rock of Guatapé in Antioquia, Colombia is a rock not only worth noticing, but traveling to see.
The Rock of Guatapé is also known as “La Piedra” (rock in Spanish) or “El Peñón de Guatapé.” It is a huge 10 million-ton smooth rock that stands 200 meters tall, overlooking the countryside surrounding it. This giant rock was once worshipped by natives that inhabited the area called the Tahamies. It was a giant spiritual force in their region.
el Peñón de Guatapé
Flickr photo via Edgar Jiménez
The smooth 10-million-ton rock has one giant crack that runs from the bottom to the top of one side.  Even though The Rock of Guatapé was first scaled in 1954 by three brave men using only sticks Pedro Nel Ramírez, Ramón Díaz and Luis Villegas, there were eventually stairs built to help others reach the top. There are 649 steps built into the giant crack that runs up the rock for people to climb. From far away, the stairs look like stitches or some sort of mend to repair for the crack in the rock.
On the face that looks north, there are two large painted letters that look like a “G” and an “I”, which is just the first part of what was meant to be a “U.” The Rock of Guatapé was long fought over by the people of El Peñol and the people of Guatapé. Each region claimed ownership of the beautiful natural masterpiece. The residents of Guatapé attempted to claim ownership once and for all by scaling the rock and painting it with their town’s name. However, this was not a very stealth operation, and the people of El Peñol noticed and put a stop to the painting. Even still, the big white “G” and beginnings of a “U” exist on the rock today.
9526814685_9f33bca530_k
Flickr photo via Tim Regan
Unfortunately, because the rock is so majestic, it has become a popular tourist spot. It is also located only 2 hours from a popular destination town of Medellin, and therefor many tourists drive to the rock to climb it. At the top, there is a small fenced in space with places to look out and buy refreshments and souvenirs. The view is breathtaking (literally, after climbing so many stairs) with the site of gorgeous andes, Guatapé lake and a 360 panorama of Colombia that will make you never want to leave. The best time to climb the Rock of Guatapé is in the morning right after breakfast before others arrive. Even though it has become somewhat of an attraction, there is nothing in the world quite like the Rock of Guatapé and it is still worth visiting.

Have you visited el Peñón de Guatapé?

 

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