Best places to visit in Bogota
Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia is an unknown territory for many of us, and it is definitely not the first place you would think to go on holiday. For most travellers, Colombia is usually associated with cocaine barons and guerrillas; however you would be surprised to find out how beautiful and safe the great cosmopolitan metropolis of Bogotá is; there are police officers in all the important touristic places in the city; and yes, you do need to be careful on the street, but just use common sense like you would do in any big city; avoid going into crummy areas wearing gold jewellery and you would not have any problem wandering through the streets of the historic city centre.
This great city is constantly being discovered by tourist around the world thanks to its history and magnificent architectural heritage.
1) La Candelaria (Old Bogotá): It is the most lively, oldest and traditional district of the city. This neighbourhood is famous for the colonial houses, cobblestone streets and ancient churches, it is definitely one of the most important, colourful and beautiful cityscapes in Bogotá. This historical centre is located in front of the Hills Guadalupe and Montserrat; La Candelaria is characterized by the beautiful decorated balconies that form part of houses with a rich architecture; the area includes many of the main attractions that includes the Bogotá Cathedral, Gold Museum, Plaza Bolivar, Foundation Botero and others.
2) Gold Museum: It is the best gold museum in the world dedicated to display spectacular exhibitions of pre-Colombian culture; it has around 36,000 gold pieces as well as thousands of ceramics and pottery from the same pre-Hispanic era; it forms part of the local art world and has become one of the symbols of Colombia’s cultural memory; it is open to the public and a fantastic must see.
3) Monserrate: Montserrat hill is located at 3,152mt above the sea level and offers exceptional and panoramic views of the city and beyond; on the top of the hill there is an important shrine of pilgrimage dedicated to “The Fallen Lord” or “El Señor Caído”; it is also famous for the excellent restaurants, souvenir shops and tourist attractions; climbing is the preferred way to reach the top of the hill by pilgrims, but there is a funicular with regular service through the day.
4) Casa de la moneda: It is a stunning 18th century colonial courtyard house; the numismatic collection opened in 1996 and exhibits the firsts minted gold coins in America, dating back from 1622; although the main attraction is to understand the process involved in the production of bills and coins, it is also interesting to learn about the significant events that have impacted Colombia throughout its history as well as the history of the building itself.
5) Museo Botero: Fernando Botero, the most important artist from Colombia and regarded as the highest-paid living artist from Latin America, donated to the Colombian people 123 of his own artwork (paintings, drawings and sculptures), as well as 85 works from his private collection covering international artists such as Dali, Renoir, Picasso, Miro, Moore and other. This large collection is housed in the Botero Museum, located in la Candelaria; the entry is free as the intention of Botero was to spread arts and culture in his homeland.
6) Quinta de Bolivar: The former house of Simon Bolivar “El Libertador” is now a beautiful country-house museum rich in history and dedicated to piece together events in Bolivar’s life, as well as display the way of living of this outstanding character. Simon Bolivar spent more time in this house than in any other place, and this is where he spent the last years of his life in companion with his mistress “Manuela Saenz”; the museum is filled with letters, documents, personal possessions, maps, uniforms and furniture of his era. You need to take time to wander around the beautiful gardens
7) Plaza Bolivar: It is the main city square and one of the many places you should visit if you go to Bogotá; a large statue of Simon Bolívar (Venezuelan military and political leader knows as “El Libertador” of the “George Washington” of South America- his victories over the Spanish domination gave the independence to Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador) is located in the middle of the square; this square is surrounded by the Cathedral, the City Hall, the Palace of Justice, the National Capitol and other great buildings with amazing architecture.
8) Palacio de Nariño: This beautiful Neoclassical Palace, also knows as “Casa de Nariño” is the official residence and workplace of the President of Colombia. It is located in la Candelaria, the old and touristic part of the city and was opened in 1908; the palace is connected to the Senate of the Republic and to the “Plaza de Bolivar”; this tasteful classical building houses work of art from different eras and one must see is the Changing of the Guard “Cambio de Guardia” in the Plaza de Armas.
9) Palacio de Justicia: The Palace of Justice is a building located in the “Plaza de Bolívar”, main square in the city of Bogotá. The headquarters of the Supreme Court of Colombia (highest court of general jurisdiction) are based here and the amazing building has become a symbol of the judiciary system in Colombia.
10) Capitolio Nacional: The National Capitol, one of the most representative Neo-classical architectures in Colombia, was built between 1847 and 1926; it is the home of the National Congress (main legislature system of the Republic of Colombia); it is located on the south side of the Plaza de Bolivar. The Capitol was declared a National Monument in 1975.
The best way to explore Bogotá is by bike; there are plenty of bike tours with English speaking guides who will teach you a lot about the city; it is just a fun way to see the many attractions that the capital city has to offer to the public.
Best time of the year to visit: During the dry season, between the months of January to March.
If you enjoy travelling, do not forget to read the article: Visit London; top 10 places to visit in the city of London