BUSTLING, BOHEMIAN, BOGOTÁ: donde la vida moderna se encuentra con una historia fascinante
If New York is the city that never sleeps, then Bogotá is its South American cousin. A city of around ten million people, the capital of Colombia is a hidden diamond in the rough. International businesses love it; tourists are fascinated by it; historians geek out over it. It has everything you could imagine: fabulous museums, a well-preserved historic centre, gorgeous viewpoints, a local street art scene, and excellent culinary options. The third-largest city in South America has a thriving culture which no travel-savvy individual should miss.
The story of how this area grew into its modern-day self is a long one. Archaeologists have found evidence of occupation dating back to 12,500 years before present. Europeans arrived in the 1500s, and Bogotá gained independence in 1810. The city is dotted with remnants of its past, visible icons of the years gone by. Check out the museums while you’re in the area- especially recommended is the Gold Museum! In the historic centre you can experience colonial architecture mixed with modern art, food, and music. Street performers are common and entertaining, and the friendly police are more than happy to give directions if you get turned around. Take some time to check out the graffiti tour and learn how street art became legal in a city where it was so long forbidden.
A must-see destination while in Bogotá is the well-known viewpoint of Monserrate. Now the site of a hill-top church, this location has been considered sacred since pre-Columbian times. You have the option of making the pilgrimage up to the top (walking up a path) or taking a cable car. Once you summit, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the sprawling splendor called Bogotá. Of course, you could also buy yourself an ice cream or have a drink as a reward for your impressively hard work.
Another popular location is the Salt Cathedral, located a bit outside of the city. It’s a fully functioning salt mine, inside of which a Catholic church has been constructed. This isn’t your typical mass! Inside the salt mine, you join a tour which brings you through the stages of the cross, each one thoughtfully designed within the walls of the mine, utilizing the natural beauty and displaying a tasteful integration of symbolism and art. Within the mine you also have the option of enjoying your time in the spa, shopping for locally sourced emeralds, having a nice cup of coffee, and checking out souvenirs from all over the country.
This metropolis has developed a varied culinary scene and has everything from your local Ma-and-Pa shop to high dining options. The same can be said for accommodation options. For the best experience in this large city, take a few days to explore the neighborhoods of La Candelaria and Chapinero, and if you happen to be around on a Sunday check out the market in Usaquén! You won’t regret leisurely wandering through the cobblestone streets and gazing up at centuries old architecture as you sip on a freshly squeezed tropical juice!
In Bogota, you may also enjoy many outdoor activities that will make your stay in the city a magical experience.
*Reference photo – pixabay
We can start with a visit to Monserrate Hill and Sanctuary; it is an icon place of the city. Since its construction in 1948 and 1954 it is known as one of the a religious pilgrimage site that each year receives thousands of devout visitors and also those who go to enjoy the beautiful landscape you can see from the mountain. To the hill, you can go by three ways: by funicular, cable car or if you are like me that you like to enjoy the experience, you may climb the pedestrian path (more than 2 km).
Bogota is a beautiful city. Another way to admire it from another angle may be to see it from the Balcony of Colpatria Tower, located in the 48th floor of the building and considered as one of the tallest constructions of Colombia. There you can have a panoramic view of the city. How to get?
*Reference photo – pixabay
Another zone that you may visit in Bogota and that really is one of my favorite is La Candelaria. I like it because it a part of colonial Bogota that remains unchanged despite the years and the arrival of modernity. It is as a place kept in time with its narrow and steep streets and constructions that were home for the highest elite of the New Grenade. Ten streets that run north to south and eight streets that run east to west comprise this historical place and they were declared as a National Monument since 1963.How to get?
Finally, my favorite outdoor plan in Bogota is to walk by the Streams La Vieja and Las Delicias. These are ecological paths along the western hills, where you can have a more intimate contact with nature without leaving the city. There you can admire the beauty of the stream and listen to the song of different bird species living in the zone. You will also be fascinated with the diversity of vegetation that include orchids and frailejones (plants of the high mountains). Besides, the paths that are open up to 9:00 pm have constant police accompaniment.
Other places that I recommend to enjoy outdoors in Bogota are:
– Metropolitan Park Simon Bolivar
– National Park Olaya Herrera
– Botanical Garden Jose Celestino Mutis
– Park El Virrey (The Viceroy)
– Plaza de Bolívar
Recommended hotels in Bogota:
*Reference photo – Bogotá
– Movich Buró 26 Hotel see location
– JW Marriot Hotel see location
– The Click Clack Hotel see location
– Ibis Bogota see location
– Viaggio see location
– The Grace Hotelsee location
– 12:12 hostels see location
– Cranky Croc Hostel see location
Bogota has a wide gastronomic offer, with a great amount of restaurants of excellent quality, located in the different zones of the city. To make it easier, Bogota has some specific zones distributed as follows:
The G Zone and the Quinta Camacho
It is well known for its architecture and its diverse culinary experiences where some restaurants such as:
– Criteron (French Cuisine)
– Carpaccio (Italian and Mediterranean Cuisine)
– 14 Inkas (Peruvian Cuisine) stand out.
The Rose and T zone
is famous for its culinary delights, but also because big fashion stores are located there. You may also find international luxury stores. There you may find famous restaurants such as:
– Andres D.C. (Colombian and Grill Cuisine)
– Juana la Loca (Spanish and Mediterranean Cuisine)
– Watakushi (Oriental Cuisine)
The Park of 93rd Street is a zone of great acknowledgement in the city since it has a variety of restaurants of all type of cuisine. The most outstanding are:
– La Bonga del Sinu (cooks grilled meats)
– Habana 93 (International Caribbean Cuisine)
The Gold Museum:
To visit this incredible place is to open our minds to learn in detail great part of the archeological heritage of Bogota and the whole country. There you may walk around the place with audio guides in different languages like English, Spanish and French while you appreciate more than 34,000 goldsmith pieces and more than 20,000 objects made of textiles, bones, wood and ceramics that tell stories and help us to know more about our beliefs and customs.
*Reference photo – pixabay
The Botero Museum is another place that you cannot leave Bogota without visiting, if you like art, since in this museum you can find the works that the Master of Arts Fernando Botero donated. Besides the museum has one of the biggest collections of international art from Latin America and the visitors have free entrance.
The National Museum:
If we talk about museums in the city of Bogota, the 17 show rooms in the National Museum turn it into one of the most representative of the city. Its artistic samples tell about the traces of the first dwellers of the zone and about the pre-Hispanic and Republican cultures that came to live in the region later on. The museum also shows international artists and famous paintings of the entire world. It also has a great cultural agenda that include conferences, concerts and other artistic representations.
*Reference photo – Bogotá
Santa Clara Church Museum:
When you come into the museum you feel transported to the colonial age since its construction is from 1647 and the place of prayer for the enclosed convent of nuns of the Order of St. Claire. The ecclesiastical furniture, the numerous paintings and all the decorations of the time are kept almost intact and tell a story full of mysticism and art.
Museum of Modern Art of Bogota, MAMBO:
is one of the spaces of the city that since 1962 is dedicated to contemporary art. The four floors that make up the building with six exhibition halls have more than 4,300 works by different national artists and a large number of photographs of one of the most famous portraitists of the city at the beginning of the 20th century Juan Nepomuceno Gomez. The museum also has film activities, conferences and workshops that make this place a worthy place to visit.
Other cultural attractions that you must visit in Bogota are the:
– Museum of Art of the Bank of the Republic
– Casa de la Moneda (Coin Museum)
– Museum of Costume and Traditions
– Museum of Independence
– Casa del Florero (House of the Flower vase)
– House Museum Francisco José de Caldas
– International Museum of the Emerald
– House Museum Quinta de Bolivar
– Casa de Nariño
– Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cultural Center
– Colon Theater
– Mayor Theater Julio Mario Santo Domingo
– La Castellana National Theater
– Jorge Eliecer Gaitan Theater
– Teatro Libre (Free Theater)
– Fanny Mikey National Theater.
Bogota also offers other alternatives such as:
Luis Angel Arango Library. BLAA:
It is one of the most complete libraries in the country, with 12 specialized reading rooms according to the area of knowledge and the type of material required.
The National Library:
is a special place that preserves the bibliographic heritage of the nation and is one of the oldest in America in its specialty. There we can find books of the fifteenth century, 610 volumes of manuscripts and about 25 thousand books published before 1800. In addition, it has several curious, digital copies, musical documents, virtual exhibitions and conferences that make this library a dream place. How to get?
Other Libraries that you must visit in Bogota are the Public Library:
– Julio Mario Santo Domingo Cultural Center
– Virgilio Barco Public Library.
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