Exploring Bogotá Colombia







Bogotá is a huge city that is well-worth a visit. I did hire a guide/driver to easily and safely get around and explore. In the evenings, I did have the hotel arrange taxis to get to my restaurant for dinner and back. I recommend that you do the same. I found some great things to see and do, so make sure to add them to your list.

Start with a trip up Cerro Monserrate to visit the church Santuario Monserrate where the church has been a landmark since 1657. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1917 and then rebuilt. Many locals take the funicular train to visit the church, the gardens and restaurants. The Colombian restaurant, Santa Clara House, is supposed to have good food with spectacular views. There is also San Isidro for French cuisine.

La Candelaria: Known as the Centro Historico, this is Bogotá’s historic center, where much of its history started. I really liked the east side, a few blocks from the Plaza de Bolivar, where you will find colorful colonial homes with wonderful balconies and other architectural details. There is an abundance of street art and graffiti.

There are beautiful buildings including the Presidential Palace and wonderful churches. The Catedral is large but somwhat plain. Don’t miss the Museo Iglesia Santa Clara which was a former church and is now a museum. Here you will find a wonderful altar and over 112 beautiful paintings. Carrera 8 y 8-91

Museo de Arte del Banco Republica: Though closed for installation of an upcoming exhibit, this is a museum/gallery behind the Museo Botero that you might check out. Calle 11 y 4-21.

Museo Botero: A must on your list to see in Bogotá. This is a small museum that has some wonderful Botero paintings, watercolors, works on paper and sculptures. But a highlight for me was to see other works by Bonnard, Boudin, Braque, Caillebotte, Calder, Chagall, Corot, Dali, Degas, De Kooning, Dubuffet, Leger, Matisse, Miro, Monet, Picasso, Renoir, Tamayo, Sisley, Tapies, Toulouse- Lautrec and Vuillard. Calle 11 # 4-41

Museo del Oro: Not to be missed is the stunning gold museum with outstanding pieces and displays of the gold from the Pre-Hispanic civilizations and cultures of Colombia.

Casa del Florero: This is a small Museo de la Independencia that is located across from the Catedral on the Plaza Mayor de Santa fe de Bogotá. It is located in a small colonial home that is worth exploring if you have time.

Contemporary architecture: In La Candelaria you might check out some of the newer contemporary architecture. The Biblioteca Luis Angel Arrango is a large cultural center that was begun in the mid-1950’s by architect Rafael Esquerra with the highlight being a concrete facade lattice of concrete beams. Calle 11 y 4-14.

The Universidad de la Salle contemporary buildings rise above the single-story colorful housing of the surrounding neighborhood. Carrera 2 y 10-70.

Centro Gabriel Garcia Marquez: From the 1960’s, this is a cultural center, gallery and library. Stop in a for a cup of coffee at the Juan Valdez cafe.

The Edificio Vengoechea at Carrera 5a y 11-68, built in 1939, is an art deco type building with sculpted balconies and circular columns.

Further north you can see the Edificio Aseguradora de Valle from 1972 with it arching contemporary design, and the Torres del Parque, three brick residential buildings built from 1965 to 1970.

La Puerta Falsa: Located in the heart of Candaleria, this is a bakery and restaurant that opened in 1816. It is a tiny, crowded restaurant with the best seating upstairs. Make sure to order the traditional chicken and corn tamals cooked inside a banana leaf. You should also order the chocolate completo which is hot chocolate served with bread and cheese. It is very traditional and a locals favorite. My guide normally takes people to similar places, but I insisted on trying the real thing. They also sell a wonderful line of candies. So glad I saw the recommendation by Anthony Bourdain!! Calle 11 # 6-50