13 April, 2019 22:04
Our last destination was Bogota. As Venezuelan, Bogota has an important historical weight since was decreed the capital of Gran colombia which included the terrotories that we know today as Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, parts of northern Peru, Guyana and northwestern Brazil. But also as a neighbour country we have lived the several tragedies ocurring on it ; El Bogotazo, where the city was partially destroyed, the M-19 where a revolutionary movement invaded the Palace of Justice or many other events that I'm not mentioning.
The latest ocurred in 2016 where a peace deal was sealed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), leaving a long-awaited sight of relief in the city. Because of this Bogota has dramatically improved safety and along with a host of progressive projects under succesive majors, helped the city stride towards positioning itself as a cultural capital and touristic destination.
The main point of attraction in Bogota is La Calendaria, but to get the most of the day we decided to do a circuit starting in Monserrate and from there, walk down to the city centre. Monserrate is one of the hills that sorround Bogota with a 3150m peak. It was chosen by Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada to start Santa Fe, where a century later Juan de Borja authorised the construction of a chapel in the name of Monserrat's Morena Virgin (Barcelona). The church was erected after the original chapel was destroyed by an earthquake in 1917. One of the most impresive parts is the sight of all Bogota, so is 100% recommended that you go up and live the experience. You can go up walking which on weekdays it used to be dangerous, as thefts occured all too regularly, but an increase in police presence in recent years has curbed that considerably. If you are travelling solo or you don't feel like walking you can also go up by cable railway or funicular.
From Monserrate you are really close to Quinta de Bolivar, which again, being Venezuelan, is nice to see the history you studied for real. Is a mansion built in the 1800 and donated to Simon Bolivar in 1820 in gratitude for his liberating services. The house is filled with period pieces, including Bolivar's sword, so if you are curious about how people used to live in that time is worth going to the place. Everything is really well maintained.
From there we want it to go into the main roads for heading into plaza de Bolivar but getting to know as much as we could on the way. We walked near Universidad de los Andes where the student vibe was amazing and made a technical stop in a place called "Comidas rapidas Henrry" that was crowded with students eating some empanadas. This is one of the typical foods in Venezuela, and both friculina and I have been living outside for a long time, so we had to tried them. They were absolutely amazing ! It really brought a lot of good memories of the empanadas in Venezuela.
Finally, we continue walking through parque de los periodistas to end up in Calle 19. There are several areas that are really busy around the centre since is the main business centre, but you have to focus on 2 main roads if you are going from where we were to plaza de Bolivar. These 2 will lead you to the biggest attractions of Bogota. Calle 19 which I mentioned before and Carrera 7. Along the way you will find the Iglesia de San Francisco which is Bogota's oldest surviving church and Museo del oro, which is one of the most fascinating museums in all South America and one of the most famous in Bogota. It contains more than 55000 pieces of gold and other materials from all the major pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia.
Once you get closer to plaza de Bolivar you will find some of the most popular sights, like el Centro Cultural Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the slightly confusing web of museums run by the Banco de la Republica, which includes Museo Botero, Casa de la Moneda and Coleccion de Arte del Banco de la Republica, which are all interconnected through a laberynth forming the complex. Me personally think that is worth seeing Museo Botero, which contains some of the robust paintings and sculptures of Colombia's most famous artist, Fernando Botero and if you are into coins, Casa de la Moneda, which exhibits pre-Columbia exchanges of pots and lead chronologically to the creation of coins and a centralised bank. Of course if you are in hurry and not much of a museum fan, also the building itself is worth watching.
In plaza de Bolivar you can appreciate Casa de Narino, which is the presidential building where the country's leader lives and works, la Catedral Primada, Escuela de Artes y Oficios Santo Domingo and the Corte Suprema de Justicia.
Bogota has evolved completely from its dark days and you can see that is becoming a more cosmopolitan city where you can enjoy the latin american culture and traditions, feeling safe. Back when I was in Venezuela Colombia for us was a no go zone, nowdays is the opposite. Is good to see how the country is developing towards a good direction.
Also Bogota has many things to do around it but there are 2 places that in my opinion you can't miss. The first one, if you are a food lover, definitely is Andres Carne de Res, if possible in Chia. The rumba (party in spanish) and the food is something you cannot miss. And second and finally the Catedral de Sal in Zipaquira. This last one is an underground salt mine, which the mine itself is impressive, but the story behind is even more. It doesn't matter if you are religious or not, a mine is a really dangerous job that many people don't even know what it means. The miners managed to overcome their day to day through their faith, constructing a cathedral of salt underground and today has won a lot of architectural awards for what they have achieved. The entire walk is absolutely amazing, but what is most impressive is, that everything is built out of salt (no tricks).