With its flower-lined lawns, colorful rose gardens and gurgling water features, it’s easy to see how the Hacienda el Paraíso (the Paradise Hacienda) earned its name, and the grand 120-acre estate is one of the most striking cultural attractions of the Valle del Cauca. Built in 1816 to oversee the region’s sugarcane plantations, the Hacienda el Paraíso became famous later in the 19th century, as the home of iconic Colombian writer Jorge Isaacs and the romantic setting for his only novel, María.
Today, the Hacienda el Paraíso is protected as a National Monument and the main property has been converted into the Hacienda Paradise House Museum, which offers a fascinating glimpse into 19th-century Colombia. While the museum is the main draw for literary fans, the showstopping grounds are also worthy of attention, shaded by towering saman trees and dotted with cosy chalets, landscaped gardens and intimate event spaces.
The Hacienda el Paraíso is located near Amaime, 36 km southeast of Cali, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission costs $1.75.