Bogota, Colombia’s capital city has a lot to offer those willing to explore it. Long regarded as unsafe for tourists, Bogota is developing a new reputation as one of the most exciting and culturally diverse cities in Latin America. The friendly locals and wonderful culinary scene only add to the intoxicating atmosphere that this city exudes.
Santa Clara is one of the oldest churches in all of Colombia, and its interior is also one of the most extravagantly decorated. Built over a 50-year span in the 17th century, the church is filled with ornate features such as a barrel vault ceiling painted in a gold floral motif and nearly 150 sculptures and paintings of saints decorating the building’s walls. The church is now owned by the Colombian government, and it has been transformed into a museum. Although there are plenty of beautiful churches to be seen in and around Bogota, the Museo Santa Clara is definitely a must-see landmark in the city.
Botanical Gardens of Bogota
The Botanical Gardens of Bogota, also known as the Jardín Botánico José Celestino Mutis, is the largest of its kind in all of Colombia. Founded in 1955, it is an excellent opportunity to admire the staggering numbers of plants and flowers found naturally throughout the country. Walk through rose gardens and medicinal gardens, and then bask in the view of more than 5,000 orchids in one place. Of special significance is the large building containing five rooms, each of which represents a unique climate zone in the country.
In Bogota you can find many handicraft markets offering an extensive collection of original and unusual objects. These eclectic spaces where entrepreneurs, artisans and vendors exhibit their products, are great places to spend the weekend. If you are not exactly an antiques enthusiast or a handicraft fanatic, you might still be able to have a good time in the flea markets. There is always something for everyone. For example your walk among the stalls could coincide with some street artist performance (music, acrobatics, etc) or if you are a bit peckish there is no shortage of typical snacks on offer.
Bogotá’s Museo del Oro is the most popular (and possibly the most interesting) museum in the city, and it’s home to more than 30,000 pieces of gold. There are three floors filled with artifacts collected from Colombia’s pre-Hispanic cultures, each focusing on a different theme. Learn how these people discovered, mined, and then worked the metals, making jewelry, masks, bowls, offerings, and armor. Discover the symbolism and spiritual aspects of gold’s everyday uses. The whole museum is very well done and absolutely stunning.
Cerro Monserrate, or Monserrate Mountain, rises 3,152 meters (10,341 feet) above the sea level, and overlooks the entire city, providing spectacular views, day or night. On top of the mountain there is a historic church and shrine dedicated to “El Señor Caído” meaning The Fallen Lord. Since its consecration in the 17th century, many have hiked the mountain as a pilgrimage to offer prayers and sacrifices to the shrine. There are also a few restaurants and bars at the top of the hill, easily accessed by aerial tram or funicular.