The 25 of July of 1536, of the hand of the Spanish conqueror Sebastián de Belalcázar, Santiago was born of Caly (Cali).
Its first name, Santiago, was given according to some in honor to the apostle Santiago because that day was celebrated its celebration in Spain.
On his second name, Caly (Cali), little is known; Some experts consider that it is due to its location in the Valley of the River Lili, while for others it is product of the voice that brought the conquerors from Ecuador or that was taken from a Cacique that had the same name.
The tradition tells us that after the foundation ceremony, the first mass was held in the place that today occupy the Convent and the Church of La Merced. Thus, the council was instituted that had as first mayor to don Pedro de Ayala and regidor to Don Antón Redondo.
Very soon the foundation of Santiago de Cali reached the ears of Francisco Pizarro, since it was established that everything that was conquered in the south of Colombia would be subject to the jurisdiction of Peru. It was thus that Pizarro was in charge of fixing the boundaries of the new province.
Three years later Caly (Cali) moved to the foot of the Hill of San Antonio, lookout that has always been silent witness of its vertiginous growth.
By Real Cedula of 17 of June of 1559 was granted to Cali coat of arms. “Let there be seven mogotes of earth in it, let the one of the middle be higher, and on the right hand of the lower part be a city of gold between two rivers and green trees, and on the lower side of that shield be at one Port of sea with a no-fountain at the mouth of the river that comes out of that mogote and enters the sea, and other naos said upstream with canoes with their oars in blue and white waters. On August 20 of that same year Cali received the title of “Very noble and very loyal city”.
Despite being founded in 1536, the progress of Santiago de Cali has been seen with greater impetus since the beginning of the XX. At this time, it is said that the city had about 20 thousand inhabitants when it was then the capital of a municipality of the Department of Cauca.
At that time, Cali had two urban areas: the paved or upper part of the city (the neighborhoods of La Merced and San Antonio), and the bayano or lower part where the neighborhood or Parish of San Nicolás was located.
The city was already shaped as a center of commerce; Its main activity was the cattle ranch and also supplied food to populations of the Chocó and gold mines of the Pacific. Since then it was a hotbed of industrialization.
In order to communicate with other populations to the north and the west, the Caleños of the time counted on two bridges. The Ortiz Bridge on 12th Street and Paso de La Torre to visit the towns of Yumbo, Vijes, Yotoco, Roldadillo and from there to Cartago, Toro and Ansermanuevo through the Cauca River. Then, in the West, the Santa Rosa Bridge was built. The road to the sea was completed only until 1 January 1915.