For Part One of our Adventures With Luisa and Guillermo, click here.
CERRO DE GUADALUPE
After visiting the Plaza de Paloquemao, Luisa and Guillermo brought us through a rougher part of Bogotá, filled with prostitutes and drug dealers, on our way to the statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This part of the city is significant because one of the former mayors of Bogotá had razed all of the buildings in the area and built brand new ones in an effort to clean up the area. This however did not work as planned. All of the criminal elements of Bogotá returned to this area. This made it fascinating to pass through the neighborhood as we were able to view the sharp contrast between the more modern, beautiful buildings and the prevalence of drug dealers, prostitutes, and homeless on every block.
We continued to the Cerro de Guadalupe, which is located high above Bogotá and affords a spectacular view of the entire city. During our ascent up the mountain range known as the Cordillera Oriental (Eastern Mountain Range), we pulled over to the side of the road to take some photos of the city before climbed all the way to the top where the buildings would appear miniscule.
Hopping back into the car we continued climbing the impressive mountain until we reached the Virgin of Guadalupe monument at the very top. The statue sat on top of a very old, small church, towering high above the city. There were several visitors to the site, many of which were taking in the breathtaking views of Bogotá from high above. We were very impressed by the spectacular view the Virgin of Guadalupe presented to us. Since the sky was clear that day, we were able to see for many miles to central mountain range. It was amazing to be able to recognize many of the buildings and areas that we had visited previously, this time from high above the city. We were also able to see quite clearly the famous church of Monserrate, which is also high above Bogotá but not nearly as high as the statue of Guadalupe. It was amazing to be able to look down to Monserrate, which had previously seemed to us to be astonishingly high up in the mountain.
We spent about half an hour enjoying the view from high above Bogotá before we began our descent back towards the city.
A couple videos of the incredible views from Cerro de Guadalupe:
QUINTA DE BOLÍVAR
After visiting the Virgin of Guadalupe, we headed towards a museum known as the “Quinta de Bolívar”. This museum is the actual house which Simón Bolívar lived in briefly after the wars of independence. Simón Bolívar, also known as El Libertador (The Liberator), was a key political and military figure that played a most significant role in gaining independence from Spain for many South American countries including, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Perú, and also Panamá. The museum was very informative and gave us a glimpse into the life of Bolívar and the history of the years immediately following Colombia’s declaration of independence in 1810. The museum has preserved much of Bolívar’s quinta including many of the rooms complete with the original furniture used by El Libertador and the people closest to him. Another part of the museum displayed many of the cannons used by Bolívar and his army during the battles for independence. A visit to Quinta de Bolívar is a must for anyone visiting Bogotá who interested in Simón Bolívar and the history of South America’s struggle against Spain. This quite impressive museum helped us to understand a lot of the events that transpired in the life of Simón Bolívar during and after the wars of independence.
After visiting the Quinta de Bolívar, we headed deep into the historic downtown neighborhood of Bogotá known as La Candelaria. This neighborhood is filled with food vendors, artists selling their works, street performers, restaurants, museums, a ton of street art and murals, and a wealth of historical buildings. Also located in the neighborhood, as mentioned in one of our previous posts, is the Plaza de Bolívar (Bogotá’s main square), home to the Palacio de Justicia (to the north), the Capitolio Nacional (to the south), the Catedral Primada de Colombia, the Casa del Cabildo Eclesiástico, the Capilla del Sagrario and the Palacio Arzobispal (to the east), the Palacio Liévano (the seat of Bogotá’s mayor to the west), and the Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé of the Jesuits (to the southeast). This plaza is always lively, full of people, and often times it is the final destination of protests and political marches.
In La Candelaria, Guillermo and Luisa brought us to one of their favorite restaurants for traditional Bogotá food. The specialty of this particular restaurant was a very delicious soup known locally as ajiaco. The ajiaco of Bogotá is a potato-based soup that contains mazorca corn (giant kernels), chicken, capers, and crème fraîche. It was accompanied by a portion of white rice and a quarter of a giant avacado.
To drink with the ajiaco, we ordered limonada, which despite its name is actually made with limes and not lemons. We have been told that there are no lemons in Colombia, only limes. The limeades (limonadas) that we have had here have been incredibly tasty.
Also in the downtown area of Bogotá you will find several gigantic malls that seem to be quite hidden. You start walking down the street and turn into what appears to be a small shop where you encounter a giant labyrinth of shops completely jam-packed with merchandise from floor to ceiling. The sheer complexity, size, and variety of items for sale in these hidden malls is absolutely mind-boggling. We wandered around for a little while looking at the amazing selections of anything that you could possible want or need, as well as a few trillion items that you couldn’t possibly want nor need. We stumbled upon a small coffee shop and the four of us sat down to some café tinto, which is nothing more than strong, black coffee; we should also add that it was very delicious too.
There are a ton of artists selling their works in the streets of La Candelaria, particularly on the main avenue that runs through the area, known locally as La Séptima (7th avenue). Many of these artists are quite impressive, making unique handcrafted items, from handmade jewelry and lamps, to wall clocks made out of old vinyl records.
CHURCHES AND BACH IN BOGOTÁ
Within the historic area of La Candelaria you will find several very old, large, and ornate churches, most of which are still currently in use. The extravagance and opulence of some of these great churches is overwhelming; their architecture is absolutely stunning. Most of them contain many items made from gold, silver, and other precious materials. In some you will even find rare, priceless paintings that the public is not even allowed anywhere near. We were very lucky that evening as one of Bogotá’s main churches, the Catedral Primada de Colombia, located in Plaza Bolívar, was having a performace featuring the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, played on its newly renovated organ by a Swedish musician. The performance was called “Bach en Bogotá” and the music sounded most excellent bellowing from the great church organ. We missed the very beginning of the performance because the line to get in was wrapped all the way around the church and we had to wait for people to leave in order for us to enter. Apparently the people of Bogotá turn out in large numbers for free shows. Guillermo explained to us that the people will form large lines for just about anything, even if they do not know what the line is for, when they find out that it is gratis (free). Overall the Bach in Bogotá concert was quite impressive; we even got to meet the organ player after the show.
See our facebook page for our photos of La Candelaria and Bach en Bogotá (link is above this section)
NIGHTCAP ABOVE THE CITY
To cap off an amazing, action-packed day, after the sun had set, Luisa and Guillermo drove us once again high above the city. We were astonished at the amounts of traffic and people hanging out at the various bars, clubs, and restaurants that littered the road climbing up into the mountains. The area was so busy that there were many people out in middle of the road just directing cars into and out of the most ridiculous parking spaces one could imagine. After we were finally guided to back up a very rocky, steeply-sloped hill into a parking spot, we cut through several cars and motorcycles to cross the road so we could get another view of Bogotá from high above, this time at night. We came to a small fence where a mass of people were gathered to overlook the city. The lights of Bogotá in the evening were absolutely amazing and from our dizzying height they all seemed to twinkle as we gazed upon them. It was a stunning sight to say the least. After our eyes had had their feast of lights, we headed back across the road to the restaurant where we had parked. There, we ordered another local Colombian favorite, a hot, fruity, delicious drink known as aromática. The aromática that we ordered was made from a fruit called maracuyá (passionfruit) which is of great abundance in Colombia. It was an absolutely perfect drink to accompany the chilly nighttime breeze high above Bogotá and it was a wonderful way to end such a spectacular day.
And finally, a video of the twinkling lights of Bogotá, Colombia at night:
There are many more photos on our facebook page so give us a ‘Like’ or a ‘Me gusta’!
To see the first part of this post click here!