The beating heart of the county
Undoubtedly the beating heart of the country, Bogata is an interesting place to spend a few days, wandering through the various districts and sampling a bit of modern Colombian life. Over the last decade or so the city has gone from a lawless and run down destination to one of the worlds’ emerging cities with modern transport, good food and increasing wealth.
Roughly running north to south, flanked on its eastern edge by a small range of hills, the city is a strange and sprawling mishmash of styles and cultures. As you head through the Candelaria district you will see the older pre-colonial buildings alongside the newer, post liberation construction. Further north is the more expensive la Rosa district which is where many of the modern, boutique hotels of the city have sprung up and where there is a booming restaurant and café culture.
Villa de Leyva
An interesting and quiet night away from the city is to visit the small village of Villa de Leyva, located around 2 hours away in the northern department of Boyaca. Founded in the 1500s, this sleepy town is one of Colombia’s best-preserved colonial towns and so a visit here is a step back in time to when many towns featured whitewashed walls, cobbled streets and dark green shuttering.
Zipaquira Salt Cathedral
On the northern road out to Villa de Leyva is also the opportunity to go and visit the impressive salt cathedral at Zipaquira. This was once a working salt mine and, when used, they decided to construct a small crypt for the workers to pray while still underground. Today it has been turned into something of a tourist attraction by using machinery to carve out the interior, creating vast vaulted ceilings and clever lighting on the salt to create crosses and other catholic images.
In the city itself, there are plenty of activities and locations to go and have a look at. Please see a few of our top recommendations below:
A superb museum that catalogues the South American, pre-Hispanic, love all that is gold! Located in the La Candelaria section of the city, the museum is a fantastical (and only fractional) display of all the uses for this magical metal over the years. Well worth a visit and one of the world’s best collections of gold.
Situated just down the road from the Museo del Oro is the equally exceptional Botero Museum, named after one of Colombia’s most pre-eminent artists and displaying a collection of approximately 200 pieces of fine art. The list of artists include many from Fernando Botero himself alongside such European masters as Picasso, Chagall, Dali, Renoir and Matisse to name but a few. All situated in a delicately restored colonial mansion, it is, again, well worth the entrance fee.
The old heart of the city, this is still a wonderful area to while away a few hours, walking along the many cobbled streets past the myriad of multicoloured colonial buildings or just soaking up the atmosphere of the busy Plaza de Bolivar.