Colombia is a fascinating country with a colourful history and vibrant modern culture. While its rainforests, beaches, coffee plantations and pristine natural areas offer vast riches to visitors, its cities are also packed with treasures. Founded in 1538, Bogota is with good reason referred to as the ‘culture capital’ of this amazing country. Every Sunday, the city centre even goes car-free for the day, and locals take to the streets on bikes in a tradition known as La Ciclovia!
Here are just some of the best ways to enjoy the city at its best.
There are 58 museums in town. The Gold Museum perhaps draws the most crowds to gawp at the mind-boggling collection of pre-Colombian artefacts from across this gold-rich nation. The largest of its kind in the world, the museum is part of the cultural complex of the Bank of the Republic.
The Police Museum is also an interesting place to spend a couple of hours. The National Museum of Colombia has an amazing array of scientific instruments, crafts, portraits and art.
(Don’t forget to check out the art and culture found in Medellin too!)
The old town
The district of Candelaria is the city’s captivating old town. With its cobbled streets, Spanish colonial and baroque architecture, this is certainly the prettiest part of Bogota. Here is where the Gold Museum and the Zipaquira Cathedral – an underground place of worship carved in the remains of a former salt mine – are located.
The Casa de Nariño, (site of the President’s offices) is located in Candelaria, as is the Congress of the Republic, the Supreme Court of Justice, and the Mayor’s Office.
Some of the city’s best boutique hotels can be found here, too, many in colonial buildings and oozing a charm you simply can’t get from modern buildings. Hotel de la Opera offers just 29 rooms within the warm atmosphere of its colonial walls, each with large picture windows and balconies with views over the rooftops and distant mountains.
South Americans are passionate about artistic expression, and nowhere is this more evident than in Bogota. The Bogota Museum of Modern Art was founded in 1963 and today houses over 2,200 works of art. There are some brilliant pieces by local masters such as Juan Antonia Roda and Fernando Botero.
There are festivals held throughout the year in the public parks – from theatre to jazz and dance, so there’s nearly always something on worth seeing.
Eating and drinking
The best of the city’s entertainment is found in the Zona Rosa – the part of the city that draws in the young and the beautiful for great food and glamorous partying. Restaurants open for dinner around 7, and the more upscale ones stay open until after midnight. La Fragrata is one of the hottest venues in town. Specialising in seafood, the dining rooms of this upscale restaurant revolves so you get a view of the whole city during the course of your meal.
Photo: from natalia love