- Colonia Tovar
Colonia Tovar (Tovar Colony) is a city located in the Tovar Municipality of the state of Aragua in Venezuela, 60 km west of Caracas. The town was named after Martín Tovar y Ponte who donated the land over 150 years ago, and was founded by Agostino Codazzi. The city is mainly known for its Germanic characteristics, culture, and a dessert called "golfeado", which is very similar to a cinnamon bun. Founded in 1843 by German settlers, the city remained isolated from the rest of the world until 1960, a factor that stunted any technological advances and permitted the inhabitants to keep their culture and traditions. The majority of its residents are descendants of Germans and have a Northern European appearance. The Alemannic peasant dialect of German, known as Alemán Coloniero ("colony German"), is becoming more restricted to Black Forest villages in Germany. It is kept alive in Tovar by the many young people from there that spend some time in these villages of their forefathers for vocational training.
Today, 6,000 people live in the village, up from 1,300 in 2003. Colonia Tovar, at about 2000 meters above sea level, has an annual average of 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit), and at night it can drop to around 5 °C.
Due to the cool climate and pleasant surrounding countryside, it is now a popular week-end destination for many visitors from Caracas. Many houses are weekend retreats and second homes. There is a wide range of hotels, restaurants and tourist facilities, many of which are only open on the weekend. The enclave is also a popular day excursion for cruise ship tourists, who typically arrive by bus.
The town and surrounding mountainous countryside have a superficial resemblance to Southern Germany. The visitor will occasionally see Germanic oddities such as waitresses in traditional Bavarian dress hawking "torta selva negra" and the odd "D" plate on some cars but will be unlikely to find anyone who understands German fluently.
Cost of living is higher here than elsewhere in Venezuela. The town depends mostly on tourism and peach agriculture. The surrounding cloud forests are protected by the Pico Codazzi Natural Monument, though some signs of deforestation are visible due to the high touristic demand from Caracas, and the extraction of tree fern, sold dry for growing orchids. The town is situated on a steep hillside, making the street layout difficult and poorly suited to the heavy weekend traffic. During the week the town can be virtually deserted.
As an interesting observation, most buildings in the area have steeply pitched roofs, a necessity in Germany to ward off any dangerous build-up of snow, but of course, not at all needed in this tropical region, where snowfall is nonexistent. Whether this architectural style was an attempt by early 19th century settlers to replicate German architecture for the sake of nostalgia, or whether they just built the only way they knew, is a subject for discussion. Both effects are likely to contribute, as evident by steep-roofed houses in German Switzerland and flat-roofed ones in Italian Switzerland in townships that may not be far apart, albeit divided by a mountain ridge. Each nationality feels most comfortable in its traditional environment, with "China Towns" in Western cities being the most evident example.
- La Colonia Tovar - Official Website
- Colonia Tovar - Tourism Website of Colonia Tovar
- Colonia Tovar - Main Website
- ^ Noth, Harald. 1993. Alemannisches Dialekthandbuch vom Kaiserstuhl und seiner Umgebung. Schillinger Verlag: Freiburg im Breisgau.
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