Colombia is a thriving, modern country with a proud present and a bright future. But as the country marches ever forward, some neighborhoods remain lost in time and carry the history of an entire nation in their walls. Those neighborhoods have been preserved and protected to offer us a taste of the way things were. Here are our favorites:
1. La Candelaria – Bogota
La Candelaria is Bogota’s most historic neighborhood. The city was officially founded here, on August 6th, 1538 and both Colombians and visitors love La Candelaria. It feels lost in time, what with its narrow streets and bustling markets.
La Candelaria was home to the city’s first square (Plaza de Bolivar) and it’s first church too (the Catedral Primada de Colombia) It also boasts some of Colombia’s most important buildings, including the Capitol (home to Colombia’s congress) the Palace of Justice (home to the Supreme Court) and Casa Nariño (home to the President) But La Candelaria is most famous for its thriving cultural scene, with much-admired colonial architecture and bustling restaurants, theaters, art galleries and museums.
2. El Pueblito Paisa – Medellin
El Pueblito Paisa, or the Little Paisa Village, sits on top of a mini mountain, right in the heart of the bustling city of Medellin, known as Cerro Nutibara. The Pueblito is a cultural haven in the center of a great city. There’s an outdoor theater (Carlos Vieco Theater) and Sculpture Park, which is filled with the work of acclaimed national and international artists.
The Pueblito was built in 1976 when many homes in the nearby town of El Peñol were deserted, so they could be flooded to make way for a reservoir. Architect Julián Sierra Mejía salvaged colonial doors, windows and friezes from the town and used them to give El Pueblito Paisa its authentic feel.
3. San Antonio – Cali
San Antonio is one of Cali’s most beloved neighborhoods, thanks to its colonial architecture and the chapel that sits on top of its hill, which first drew mayors, clergy and wealthy artisans to settle here. San Antonio’s traditional houses are famous, most are two-storey homes with internal courtyards, built with wooden beams and large river stones and surrounded by fruit trees. They have heavy doors and ornate windows. San Antonio’s chapel, on the other hand, is a simple, baroque chapel, dedicated to San Antonio de Padua in 1747. One of Colombia’s most famous writers, Maria author Jorge Isaacs, lived just outside San Antonio, in El Peñón.
4. Walled City – Cartagena
Cartagena’s walled city must be the most famous colonial spot in all of Colombia, beloved by writers, romantics and historians for the magic concealed within its walls. This dreamy city, founded on June 1, 1533 by Pedro de Heredia, has been plundered by pirates and fought deathly battles from its fortresses. Nowadays the old city is still full of the sights and sounds of colonial times, the pretty, balconied houses have tropical flowers scaling their walls and horses pull carriages through the streets. Popular sites include the clock gate, Inquisition Palace and the home of Pedro Claver, “Saint of the Slaves”.
5. Abajo – Barranquilla
Abajo is one of Barranquilla’s founding neighborhoods and it’s name, which means “below”, dates back to 1857, when the bustling city was divided into three – above the river, below the river and the center. Abajo’s houses are a sight to behold, they’re usually painted in bright reds, blues, greens and yellows with traditional thatched roofs. Barranquilla hosts one of Latin America’s largest carnivals every year and Abajo is at the very heart of the festivities, which includes music, dancing and beauty queen parades.
It’s clear that if you’re looking for neighborhoods lost in time, carrying the story of a country in their walls, the answer is Colombia. If you liked this article, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or any of your social network.
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