My trip to Colombia. Colombia has long been associated with stereotypes of danger, drugs, and violence. However, things are changing and, while Bogotá, its capital, is not a place where I would like to settle long-term, I have had the chance to visit it twice. To avoid being an easy target, it is important to respect some simple rules, which are valid for all countries in the world: be vigilant and do not venture off the beaten path of usual tourists. If you follow these precautions, you should have a pleasant stay in Colombia.
Here are my top 5 favorite museums to visit in Bogotá
- Gold Museum, located in the heart of Bogotá, is one of the most fascinating in Colombia. The museum presents an exceptional collection of pre-Columbian objects, allowing us to appreciate the attachment that indigenous peoples had with this precious metal. A visit is a must, and on Sundays, you can enter for free.
- Botero Museum, located in the historical and cultural center of Bogotá, contains an important collection of works that were graciously donated to Colombia by the talented artist Fernando Botero. The aim is to transmit arts and culture in his native country.
- Casa Museo Quinta de Bolivar is a colonial house that served as a residence for Simon Bolivar in the capital after the war of independence. It is now used as a museum dedicated to his life and times.
- July 20th Museum (Casa del Florero) is the museum of independence, located northeast of Bolivar Square in Bogotá, Colombia.
- Money Museum, the house of money is a former mint building, now turned into a museum. Founded in 1621, it is also astonishingly full of numerous works of art from Europe and elsewhere.
There are an incredible number of museums, and if you have the time, you can visit these ones that I really loved: Santa Clara Museum, Colonial Art Museum of Bogotá, and the National Museum of Colombia.
Top 5 must-try restaurants
The culinary wonders of Colombia. No matter which restaurant you go to in Bogotá, it is impossible to be disappointed. Whether it’s for breakfast, pastries, or family-owned restaurants, to the most gourmet ones, they are simply amazing. Seriously! One of the greatest pleasures there was undoubtedly mealtime. They have “the art of the table”. Exquisitely memorable!
- Oma Cafe for its exceptional pastries and aromáticas (fruit teas), the best I’ve ever had, not to mention the impressive coffee menu.
- Crêpes & Waffles is a Colombian restaurant chain. The idea came from a couple of university students who wanted to start a business they believed in. Don’t leave without trying at least one crepe and one waffle. You’ll thank me later.
- Andres Carne de Res, located in the Chapinero district, offers typical Caribbean cuisine. Everyone knows this restaurant, and its reputation speaks for itself. The meat is the main attraction, and Colombia is known for its countless herds, exceptional taste, and quality meat. Lucky for me, they also have a vegetarian menu. It’s a chic pub with a superb Latin American ambiance.
- Antigua Santafe is another must-visit place, considered by many to serve the best Ajiaco (chicken and potato soup) in the world.
- La Puerta de la Catedrale is a typical restaurant located just a few meters from the cathedral square. The traditional food is excellent, with generous portions and excellent service.
There are countless small neighborhood restaurants, or in the city center, where you can have a meal for less than 3 dollars.
The terrible story of “The Dance of the Wild Beasts”
The restaurant “La Puerta de la Catedral” was the scene of a terrible spectacle: “The Dance of the Wild Beasts.” It was one of the worst examples of the terror exercised by Pablo Morillo in the city of Santafé (Bogotá).
On October 16, 1816, wives, daughters, and sisters were imprisoned in the cloisters four blocks away from the site of the massacre until the fateful celebration. The ladies, in tears, dressed in gala costumes, had to dance with those responsible for their cruel fate as well as some colonizers, who violently killed in this place. Two hundred years later, in this location filled with tormented ghosts, I have my traditional breakfast.
Top 6 Shopping Centers
To digest all this delicious food, nothing beats strolling through the city and discovering charming little shops that adorn the streets, while meeting its inhabitants.
- Hacienda Santa Barbara in the Usaquén neighborhood with its Plaza known as La Plaza Usaquén. Enjoy a Sunday to discover El Mercado de las Pulgas, a weekly flea market animated by vendors of art, crafts, antiques, food, gifts, and entertainment.
- The Centro Andino shopping center in the zona rosa, a business and luxury shopping center. Prestigious brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dolce Gabbana, and Hugo Boss are located there.
- Atlantis Plaza and its Hard Rock Cafe.
- Unicentro where you can find restaurants, shops, and cinemas.
- The Boulevard shopping center (NIZA) Hotel, gym, body tech.
- Plaza San Victorino (El Madrugon) is a popular market that brings people from all parts of Latin America together. Beware of pickpockets.
The ascent of Monserrate
The Monserrate Mountain, located in the Eastern Cordillera, is one of the most visited mountains in Bogotá. The Monserrate and Guadalupe mountains border the Bogotá savannah to the east, and seem to watch over the city.
Altitude: 3,152 meters
Mountain range: Andes Mountains, Eastern Cordillera.
La Candelaria, the oldest neighborhood in Bogotá
La Candelaria is an old colonial neighborhood located at an altitude of nearly 3,000 meters, with winding streets lined with painted walls and shops selling emeralds and handmade creations. It contains countless small restaurants and cafes where you can taste the famous Chicha, a beverage mainly derived from the non-distilled fermentation of corn and other original American cereals.
At night, it is the neighborhood where the heart of the capital beats, with a background of salsa that takes you into the warm Colombian nights. It is undoubtedly the most picturesque and authentic neighborhood in the city, with houses more colorful than the others. I recommend staying there as I did.
The Primatial Cathedral of Bogotá
Is located in the historic and political center of the city and the country. It is a religious building, located on the Plaza de Bolivar in Bogotá. The cathedral, in the neoclassical style, was built between 1807 and 1823 by the Capuchin monk and Spanish architect Domingo de Petres. It was constructed on the same site where three previous cathedrals of the city were successively built and demolished. Considering its historical, cultural, and architectural value, it is classified as a national monument by decree of the Ministry of National Education.
La Plaza de Bolivar is the main square of the city of Bogotá and of Colombia. It is located in the city center, between the seventh and eighth with the tenth and eleventh streets.
Around it are some of the main buildings of the city: to the north the Palace of Justice, to the south the National Capitol, to the east the Primada Cathedral, the House of the Ecclesiastical Cabildo, the Chapel of the Sagrario and to the west the Liévano Palace, seat of the mayor’s office of Bogotá, and to the southeast the Jesuit College of San Bartolomé.
Colpatria Tower International Center
Hidden Treasures of the Andes
Corferias is an exhibition center located in Bogotá, intended to organize local, national and international events. Although it was created to carry out fair activities, this center has been adapted to be the center of important social, commercial and cultural activities.
During my last visit, I discovered the true hidden treasures of the Andes. A multitude of arts and crafts carefully kept over millennia. Unique products, designed and manufactured by expert artisans. Each piece is the result of an ancestral technique, know-how, culture, and human pride.
In collaboration with artists, we have developed a whole range of unique pieces (see photos below) and exhibited them at events such as the Montreal Design Show (SIDIM) and in the prestigious boutiques of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Pointe à Callière Museum.
The technique of straw marquetry
The wealth of this country is such that gold and emeralds flow freely. The profusion of its flora and fauna feeds the whole world. Its very famous coffee and its delicious cocoa are worth the detour. Be sure to taste it once there.
I am grateful to have been able to visit the country, in which the famous cartoons of my youth “The Mysterious Cities of Gold” were inspired.