Barquisimeto is the capital city of the State of Lara located in west central Venezuela, halfway between Caracas and Maracaibo on the Turbio River. Coordinates: 10°3′50″N, 69°20′05″W.
The city has strong agroindustrial roots, being surrounded by a sugar cane valley and located near two of the largest vegetable-producing regions in Venezuela: the Valle de Quíbor (Quíbor Valley) and Sanare.
First founded by Don Juan de Villegas in 1552 and named Nueva Segovia de Barquisimeto, the site of the city was later moved to several places until 1563, when the town finally settled in its present location. Today Barquisimeto is a modern city, the fourth most populated in the country, and is situated in the middle of Venezuela's west-central axis of communication, industry and agriculture.
Two well-known landmarks in Barquisimeto are the obelisk, called El Obelisco (which is actually flat on top not making it a true obelisk), raised to commemorate Barquisimeto's 400th anniversary of foundation, and the Cathedral, which looks like an inverted orchid; this style of construction is very rare in Latin America since it consists of a cross-like tinted glass dome, designed in 1959 by Jan Bergkamp and finished in 1969.
Once a year in January, the Divina Pastora (Divine Shepherdess), a mobile statue of the Holy Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus and sheep, is held by 6 to 10 men and carried to the cathedral from the Basilica Minor located in the nearby town of Santa Rosa. More than 2 million people join the procession and walk the entire course every January 14, some even barefoot or holding a wooden cross. The streets of downtown Barquisimeto are going through some major construction due to the implementation of a trolley-car system that will connect the whole city, making a more efficient public transportation system. This new public transportation is named Transbarca and is expected to be completed by 2010.