Bogota is the capital city of Colombia and one of the most amazing cities in the world. Known as the Athens of South America, Bogota is a metropolitan city full of arts, culture, and rich history. Its attractions include 58 museums, 62 art galleries, 33 library networks, 45 stage theatres, 75 sports and attraction parks, and over 150 national monuments. The city is also home to numerous festivals and trade shows. With it is location and cultural offerings, it is easy to see why the city is visited by so many people a year.
Bogota is where cosmopolitan meets colonial in a buzzing and vibrant way. After years and years of traveling to this amazing city, I’ve come up with the top things to see and do. So whether you are stopping by for a layover or you’re spending a few days in the city, here are some of the things you can’t leave without checking out. I could spend hours roaming around La Candelaria. And with its numerous museums blocks away from each other, you can do just that. There is no need to really “plan” a day in this part of town. And when it comes to food, there is no need to fear as restaurants are plenty to pick from.
La Candelaria, Bogota’s Historic Downtown
This historic downtown neighborhood is the city’s cultural epicenter. 300 years of history welcome you as colonial buildings turned museums, restaurants, and bars sit along side churches and old convents. This area is perfect for those with a penchant for history and lovers of culture and the arts where you can spend the day strolling along cobblestone streets and visit some world famous museums.
Via Museo Botero
Museo Botero: Calle 11 No 4-41
Photo by TEDxBogotá, All CC
Iglesia Museo de Santa Clara: Carrera 8 No 8-91
Iglesia Museo de Santa Clara is one of Bogotá’s oldest churches and is now run by the government as a museum. This richly decorated church is stunning! The church was built between 1629 and 1674. It features single-nave construction and a barrel vault. Covered in a golden floral motif the walls are lined with over 140 paintings and sculptures of numerous saints.
Photo by: cfrincon, All CC
Iglesia de San Francisco: cnr Av Jiménez & Carrera 7
I love going to old churches and La Candelaria is full of them! My mom would tell me stories of how as a little girl she and my great grandmother would go to multiple churches during Easter, walking the cobblestone streets from church to church. Bogota’s oldest church, Iglesia de San Francisco, is located right next to the Museo del Oro. The church was built between 1557 and 1621 and is known for its extraordinary 17th-century gilded main altarpiece, which is Bogotá’s largest and most elaborate piece of art of its kind!
Photo by: Valerie Wozniak, All CC
Museo del Oro: Carrera 6 No 15-88
The Gold Museum is one of the most important and well known museums in Colombia. It has a collection of more than 55,000 piece from all the major pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia, spread out over 3 floors. Each piece has a deeper meaning and use than what is told on the descriptions so if you are able to, take a free tour offered throughout the day.
MUSA Museo Arqueológico Bogota: Carrera 6 No 7-43
Housed in La Casa del Marqués de San Jorge which was built in the late seventeenth century, MUSA houses the most representative collection of pre-Columbian pottery in the country. The house has seen history pass through its doors with numerous important owners before she was donated. It is the current seat of the Promotion Fund of Culture.
Photo by: Pablo Andrés Rivero, All CC
Casa de Moneda: Calle 11 No 4-93
Old colonial buildings are where most of these museums are housed. La Casa de Moneda is where the first gold coins in America were mint in 1622. Through out the rooms in the museum, you travel Colombia’s history as you see the money making process and how it has evolved. What seems like a relatively boring museum is actually a fascinating journey though economics, history, and machinery.
Museo de Arte Colonial: Carrera 6 No. 9 – 77
Going along with every other Candelaria museum, it is another beautiful building filled with beautiful paintings. The collection traces the evolution of religious portraits, particularly the works of Colombia’s favorite baroque artist, Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos.
By Peter Angritt – Own work, CC
Museo de la Independencia – Casa del Florero: Cra. 7 #11-28
The historic Independence Museum is filled with the history of the country’s independence and items that relate. The most famous of those items? The flower vase that started a fist fight which then sparked a rebellion. You can still see the vase today! Not bad for a 200 year old piece.
Museo Nacional: Carrera 7 No. 28-66
As the largest and oldest museum in all of Colombia and one of the oldest in South America, this museum does not disappoint. The building was a prison until its conversion to the present day museum. The museum houses a collection of over 20,000 pieces including works representing different national history periods.