Bogota, on La Candelaria’s hillside

(continuer en français) – Published: April 11, 2021

La Candelaria is the most typical neighbourhood of Bogota, the capital of Colombia. It was here that the city was founded by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, officially on August 6, 1538, about forty years after the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.

Today the heart of the city is located around the vast Plaza Bolivar, which is administratively part of La Candelaria, but the specific character of the district is mainly evident on the hillside that rises from the central square.

The straight streets climb the surrounding hillside, due to the district’s success as a tourist destination, some streets have become pedestrianised. A special effort is made to decorate the streets, such as these strange artificial trees during the holiday season.

In several places, clusters of street vendors try to profit from the passage of tourists. They are mostly at the bottom of the hill, near Bolivar Square. The quality of the objects for sale is very diverse, mixing good painters with junk sellers.

Many of the houses have a quaint appearance, also geared towards the tourist trade. The colours are more assertive and give a cheerful air to the streets, and there is even a French pastry shop.

The streets of the neighbourhood follow the grid plan of the colonial cities, resulting in straight streets that adapt to the variable slope.

The higher you go, the fewer visitors and passers-by there are. However, the houses continue to display their colonial style, forming a consistent setting, perfect for instagrammable photos.

Halfway up the slope are some more important buildings, such as the Cristóbal Colón Theatre, inaugurated in 1892. Its beautiful classical façade of blond stone dominates a small square created by the receding construction of the Palacio de San Carlos, headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The former convent of Saint Nicholas of the Recollet order dates back to 1686. It became a Catholic college and its buildings were later used for several educational institutions. The church of La Candelaria, now separate from the convent, underwent a major restoration at the beginning of the 21st century.

This is the top of the bell tower of the Candelaria church seen from the patio of the Botero museum across the street.

A few blocks away is the Chorro de Quevedo, where the city is considered to have started in 1538 with a small garrison established by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada.

On one side of the Chorro de Quevedo plaza stands a chapel, the Ermita de San Miguel del Príncipe, although built in 1969 it follows the lines of the churches of the past. Around the square there are several restaurants and cafes that make it a popular place until late at night, the most famous being El Gato Gris.

From the square runs the narrowest street in Bogotá, Calle Del Embudo, always bustling, further narrowed with a handful of street vendors.

Whether in Calle Del Embudo or in the neighbouring alleys, arte callejero, or mural painting, takes full advantage of the freedom of expression established in Colombia. It is possible to paint freely on the walls, as long as the owner gives his consent, this is the limit with unwanted graffiti.

Despite its tourist character, the Candelaria district requires constant vigilance regarding the risk of petty crime. As always, less frequented areas and night hours should be avoided. With these precautions in mind, this is the place to go in Bogotá to experience the atmosphere of the old cities of the Spanish colonial period.

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28 comments

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a colourful village. What amazing hues they have in their paints, way off any colour charts I’ve ever perused for the front of my house! Great photos and a very interesting trip to a place I’d never heard of, so thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bogotá is a large city with many recent developments. La Candelaria is the historical part, a district with a hidden charm, but ultimately very typical of Spanish cities of the colonial period. Thank you for your appreciation.

      Like

    • I have visited Latin America repeatedly over the past ten years. With a European background, I have found there aspects less present in the North and finally a character of their own made of the mixture of indigenous cultures and the colonial fact. Architecturally, the charm of the old cities or neighbourhoods dating from the colonisation period is attractive and photogenic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bogota looks like such a warm and vibrant place to visit. It seems like there is something interesting on every street, whether it’s a colourful building or mural painting. It definitely looks very lively and a city full of energy.

    Liked by 1 person

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