Also known as La Ciudad Blanca in Spanish, or ‘the White City’, Popayán was an important 16th and 17th century Spanish settlement in the colonial era. Borrowing its name from its whitewashed old houses and buildings, Popayán is a popular religious center of Colombia today. The grand Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption and the Church of La Ermita that dates back to the 17th century, attract the faithful from far and wide. The spectacular religious processions held every year during the Holy Week, especially on Maundy Thursday, is a particular attraction. The lush green Caldas Park in the center of town is the heart and lungs of this quaint little colonial city, with the added distinction of hosting a charming 17th century clock tower. Popayán is home to a large number of universities, thus drawing in a substantial academic crowd.