Each year on 7 August, the people of Colombia celebrate Boyacá Day in commemoration of the Battle of Boyacá which took place in 1819.
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The Boyacá Bridge, 14 kilometres from Tunja and more than 100 kilometres from Bogata, was the scene of one of the greatest battles ever fought in Colombia. The battle was a culmination of battles let by Simon Bolivar of the Independence Campaign.
The Patriot Army had already succeeded in battle at Gameza on 11 July and at Vargas Swamp just 14 days later. Bolivar intended to surprise the Royal Army at the bridge, knowing that they would have to cross at that location in order to get to Santafe. The Patriot Army was created with untrained soldiers, many of whom had only knives, lances and spades to fight the well-armed Spanish army.
The battle lasted for six hours, culminating in Spanish submission. The survivors of the Royal Army in the battle were taken prisoner. When word reached the capital of the Royal Army’s defeat, Viceroy Juan Samana fled the city. There were just 66 Patriot fatalities compared to 250 in the Spanish Army. More than 1,600 Spanish soldiers were taken prisoner after the battle. The small army was successful not only because of their dedication to the cause, but also because of the tactical superiority of Bolivar.
Celebrations begin early in Bogata since the day before, 6 August, is the birthday of the city. The bridge where the battle took place is considered an emblem of Colombian independence, although it is no longer used. It is surrounded by memorials and monuments. There is a Flag Square, Arc of Triumph, Stone Lecturn, Flame of Freedom and the British League Stone and Obelisk. Ceremonies are held at the location each year, commemorating the day Colombia battled for independence.
The President takes a symbolic liberty tour through the area with an army cavalry. He meets a unit of the army at the Boyacá Bridge in a symbolic salute to those who died fighting for the freedom of Colombia. There are speeches and parades throughout Colombia as well to mark the day the country achieved independence.
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