From Graffiti to Green Spaces: A Local’s Guide to Vibrant Bogotá
From Graffiti to Green Spaces: A Local's Guide to Vibrant Bogotá - Explore La Candelaria's Colorful Colonial Architecture
With its cobblestone streets and brightly painted buildings, Bogotá's historic La Candelaria district transports visitors back to the 16th century when the city was founded. Wandering the lively pedestrian-only streets, you'll feel immersed in colonial Colombia as you take in the Baroque and Neoclassical architecture preserved from Spanish rule.
Plaza de Bolívar is the heart of La Candelaria and Bogotá's main square. The impressive Cathedral Primada stands on the north side, built in Neoclassical style between 1807 and 1823. Its mammoth dome is visible from many parts of the city. On the plaza's east side is the neoclassical Capitolio Nacional, home of Colombia's congress.
Calle del Embudo is one of La Candelaria's most photographed streets, recognizable by its vibrantly colored two-story homes. Yellow, green, pink, and blue facades pop against the Andean Mountains backdrop. Walk down Carrera 2 to see more bright colonial residences lovingly maintained through the centuries.
No visit to La Candelaria is complete without seeing the Casa de Nariño. This impressive complex with two courtyards has been the presidential palace and home since 1908. Free guided visits showcase priceless artifacts like Simón Bolívar's sword. The changing of the guard happens on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 4 pm.
While wandering La Candelaria's labyrinth of charming streets, don't miss the Botero Museum. This colonial mansion houses the largest collection of works by Colombia's Fernando Botero, famous for his oversized human and animal sculptures. Wander through restored 17th and 18th-century rooms as you admire Botero's instantly recognizable art.
La Candelaria is also home to some of Bogotá's top restaurants, bars, and cafes. Grab an arepa stuffed with cheese at La Puerta Falsa, an institution since 1816. The area's cool nightlife includes El Bembe salsa bar and Quiebra Canto with live Cuban music. End your evening people watching with a hot chocolate at La Candelaria's cozy cafes.
What else is in this post?
- From Graffiti to Green Spaces: A Local's Guide to Vibrant Bogotá - Explore La Candelaria's Colorful Colonial Architecture
- From Graffiti to Green Spaces: A Local's Guide to Vibrant Bogotá - Wander through Downtown's Quirky Street Art Scene
From Graffiti to Green Spaces: A Local's Guide to Vibrant Bogotá - Wander through Downtown's Quirky Street Art Scene
Bogotá's downtown district of La Candelaria captivates with its colorful colonial architecture, but just outside the historic center street art enthusiasts can discover an equally vibrant artistic side of Colombia's capital. Wandering through the cityscape beyond the postcard-perfect facades reveals an explosion of boundless creativity - mischievous monkeys, mystical aquatic creatures, and anonymous faces watch you from the sides of buildings.
Like most major metropolises, graffiti proliferated in Bogotá as a counterculture movement but was largely seen as vandalism. However, when Antanas Mockus became mayor in 1995 he spearheaded a novel approach - hiring street artists to beautify dangerous neighborhoods. The city commissioned massive murals, transforming downtrodden areas with vibrant scenes. Bogotá began embracing urban artwork as a form of creative expression.
This openness unleashed an artistic movement that transformed the urban landscape. One simply needs to stroll downtown streets like Avenida Jiménez and Carrera Séptima to witness Bogotá's embrace of edgy and avant-garde street art. Here you'll lose yourself in a open-air gallery where hidden corners confront you with surreal and mind-bending visions.
Wandering past the Emerald Trade Center, keep your eyes peeled upwards. On the building's upper floors, a giant baby sticks out of the brick facade appearing to climb Spiderman-style. Lower down, a suited man reads a newspaper headlined "Chaos" while a fish expels water from his mouth. This massive mural entitled "Perception of Reality" seems to ask - what's really going on here?
Further along Carrera Séptima, a four-story parking garage becomes a canvas for two giants with entirely blue eyeballs. Another parking structure nearby depicts a mystical underwater scene with a whale, manta ray, and schools of fish. Here ordinary buildings are transformed into unexpected art spaces.
While some pieces are sanctioned, much of Bogotá's street art remains illicit and ever-changing. Stenciled political statements fade quickly, while new works appear overnight. This ephemeral nature means you'll discover something new on each visit. Just across from the Vasquez art gallery, an always evolving wall challenges audiences with provocative questions like "Who are we?"
Some standout works come from Toxicómano, an anonymous local artist stirring controversy with subversive messages. His name means "drug addict" in Spanish - an intentional statement on societies' outcasts. Look for his haunting black and white wheatpaste posters taking aim at conformity or capitalism’s excesses.