Bogota Travel Guide

Culture

Bogotá has many cultural venues including 58 museums, 62 art galleries, 33 library networks, 45 stage theatres, 75 sports and attraction parks, and over 150 national monuments. Many of these are renowned globally such as:

The Luis Angel Arango Library, the most important in the region which receives well over 6 million visitors a year;

The Colombian National Museum, one of the oldest in the Americas, dating back to 1823;

The Ibero-American Theater Festival, largest of its kind in the world, receives 2 million attendees enjoying over 450 performances across theaters and off the street;

The Bogotá Philharmonic is the most important symphony orchestra in Colombia, with over 100 musicians and 140 performances a year;

The Cristobal Colon Theater, the Country's oldest Opera House, opened in 1892, is home to the National Symphony Association's major act, the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia;
Rock al Parque or Rock at the Park, the most important open air rock music festival in Latin America. Recurring annually, it gathers over 320,000 music fans who can enjoy over 60 band performances for free during three days a year. The series have been so successful during its 15 years of operation that the city has replicated the initiative for other music genres, resulting in other recent festivals like Salsa at the Park, Hip Hop at the Park, Ballet at the Park, Opera at the Park, and Jazz at the Park.

Bogotá has worked heavily in recent years to position itself as leader in cultural offerings in South America, and it is increasingly being recognized worldwide as a hub in the region for the development of the arts.

In 2007, Bogotá was awarded the title of Cultural Capital of Ibero-America by the UCCI (Union of Ibero-American Capital Cities), and it became the only city to have received the recognition twice, after being awarded for the first time in 1991.

Cultural history

Bogotá was a city quite isolated, since communication media were scarce. Only by the end of the century did such isolation decline thanks to the railroad and to some roads linking the city and the Magdalena river and down the river up to the Caribbean coast.

In 1886, the National School of Beaux Arts was founded and drove artistic development in the city. Alberto Urdaneta was the first director. Painters Epifanio Garay and Ricardo Acevedo Bernal, School professors, were important portraitists, but the most outstanding person at that time was painter Andrés de Santamaría (1860–1945), greatly renowned painting in Colombia. He was Beaux Arts School director twice and his work, associated to impressionism, is the most important of that time. Landscaping trend most famous representatives were Roberto Páramo, Jesús María Zamora, Eugenio Peña, Luis Núñez Borda and Ricardo Gómez Campuzano, painters whose work is preserved in the permanent National Museum collection.

Bogotá gave the Spanish-speaking world José Asunción Silva (1865–1896), Modernism pioneer. His poetic work in the novel De sobremesa position him in an outstanding American literature place. Rafael Pombo (1833–1912) was outstanding American romanticism poet who left a collection of fables essential part of children imagination and Colombian tradition.

Architecture

The urban morphology and typology of colonial buildings in Bogotá have been maintained since the late nineteenth century, long after the independence of Colombia (1810). This persistence of the colonial setting is still visible, particularly in La Candelaria, the historical center of Bogotá. Also kept up are the colonial houses of two stories, with courtyards, gabled roofs, ceramic tiles and balconies. In some cases, these balconies were filled with glass during the Republican period, a distinguishing feature of the architecture of the sector (for example, the House of Rafael Pombo).

"Republican Architecture" was the style that prevailed between 1830 and 1930. Although there were attempts to consolidate a modern architectural language, the only examples seen are University City and White City at the National University of Colombia (constructed 1936 to 1939). This work was developed by German architect James Daly, although architects of rationalist trends participated in the design of campus buildings. We also see in Bogotan architecture trends such as art deco, expressionism and organic architecture. This last trend was typified by Bogotan architects in the second half of the twentieth century such as Rogelio Salmona.

In 2006, Bogotá won The Golden Lion Award at the Tenth International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale of Architecture, in recognition of "their efforts towards social inclusion, education, housing and public space, particularly through innovations in transportation."

Although renowned for its beautiful preservation of colonial architecture, there are also significant contemporary architecture examples found in the downtown and at the north of the city.

In 2014, BD Bacatá will be inaugurated, taking the place from Colpatria tower to become the tallest building of the city and of Colombia. The building its expected to be the beginning of the city's downtown renovation.

Libraries and archives

In 2007, Bogotá was named World Book Capital by UNESCO. Bogotá is the first Latin American city to receive this recognition, and the second one in the Americas after Montreal. It stood out in programs, the library network and the presence of organizations that, in a coordinated manner, are working to promote books and reading in the city. Several specific initiatives for the World Book Capital program have been undertaken with the commitment of groups, both public and private, engaged in the book sector.

The city is home to the Biblored, an institution which administers 16 small and four large public libraries (Biblioteca Virgilio Barco, Biblioteca El Tintal, Biblioteca El Tunal and Biblioteca Julio Mario Santodomingo). It also has six branches of the Library Network of the Family Compensation Fund Colsubsidio and libraries and documentation centers attached to institutions like the Museo Nacional de Colombia (specializing in old books, catalogs and art), Museum of Modern Art, the Alliance Française, and the Centro Colombo Americano.

Another set of libraries are the new collaborative initiatives between the state, city and international agencies. Examples are the Cultural Center Gabriel García Marquez, custom designed by the Fondo de Cultura Economica in Mexico, and the Spanish Cultural Center, which will begin construction with public funds and of the Spanish Government in downtown Bogotá.

The National Library of Colombia (1777), under the Ministry of Culture and the Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango (1958), under the Bank of the Republic are the two largest public libraries in the city. The first is the repository of more than two million volumes, with an important collection of ancient books. The latter has almost two million volumes. 45 thousand square meters in size, it hosts 10 thousand visitors a day. Bank of the Republic depends also on the Library Alfonso Palacio Rudas, north of the city, with about 50 thousand volumes. Other large public libraries are the Library of Congress in Colombia (with 100 thousand volumes), of the Instituto Caro y Cuervo (with nearly 200 thousand volumes, the largest Latin American library in Philology and Linguistics), the Library of the Academy of History The Library of the Academy of Language, the Library of the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History ICANH, and many university libraries.

Bogotá is home to historical records housed the General National Archive, a collection of about 60 million documents, one of the largest repositories of primary historical sources in Latin America. Bogotá is also home to the Musical Archive of the Cathedral of Bogotá (with thousands of books and choral song-colonial period), the Archdiocesan Archive, the Archive of the Conciliar Seminary of Bogotá, the Archive History National University of Colombia and the Archive of the Mint in Bogotá, under the Bank of the Republic.

Museums and galleries

The city offers 58 museums and over 70 art galleries. The National Museum of Colombia has acquisitions divided into four collections: art, history, archeology and ethnography. The Gold Museum, with 35 thousand pieces of tumbaga gold, along with 30 thousand objects in ceramic, stone and textiles, represents the largest collection of pre-Columbian gold in the world.

The Botero Museum has 123 works of Fernando Botero and 87 works by international artists. The Museum of Modern Art in Bogotá has a collection of graphic arts, industrial design and photography. The Museum of Colonial Art is home to an important collection of colonial art from Colombia. Fundación Gilberto Alzate Avendaño hosts activities related to the performing arts and shows temporary exhibits of art in its halls and galleries.

Among the scientific museums are the Archeological Museum – Casa del Marqués de San Jorge, which has about 30 thousand pieces of pre-Columbian art, Instituto de Ciencias Naturales (UN), one of the four largest museums of natural sciences in Latin America, and the Geological Museum, which has a collection specializing in Geology and Paleontology.

Bogotá has historical museums like the Casa Museo Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, the Museum of Independence (Museo de la Independencia), the Quinta de Bolivar and the Casa Museo Francisco José de Caldas, as well as the headquarters of Maloka and the Children's Museum of Bogotá. New museums include the Art Deco and the Museum of Bogotá.

Theatre and scenic arts

Besides the Ibero-American Theater Festival, the city has forty-five theaters; the principal ones are the Colon Theater (currently under restoration), the newly built Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo, the National Theater with its two venues, the traditional TPB Hall, the Theater of La Candelaria, the Camarin del Carmen (over 400 years old, formerly a convent), the Colsubsidio, and a symbol of the city, the renovated Teatro Jorge Eliecer Gaitan (the highest capacity currently in South America), León de Greiff Auditorium (home of the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra), and the Open Air Theater "La Media Torta", where musical events are also held.

Bogotá has its own film festival, the Bogotá Film Festival, and many theatres, showing both contemporary films and art cinema.

The main cultural center of the city is the La Candelaria, historic center of the city, with a concentration of universities and museums. In 2007 Bogotá was designated the Ibero-American cultural Capital of Iberoamerica.

Sports

The District Institute for Recreation and Sport promotes recreation, sports and use of the parks in Bogotá.

Football has been declared a symbol of Bogotá, and is widely played in the city. Colombian professional Football is popular. There are three professional clubs in the city, Millonarios, La Equidad, and Santa Fe. The twenty one titles won by two of these teams (Millonarios have 14 and Santa Fe have 7) makes Bogotá second only to Cali in number of championships won. The main football stadium is the Estadio Nemesio Camacho El Campín (known as the Campín Stadium), which is the headquarters of the Colombia national Football team, where they won the Copa América in 2001.

Other major sporting venues are the covered Coliseum El Campín, the aquatic complex of Parque Simón Bolívar, the Sports Palace, and the El Salitre Sports venue which includes the Velódromo Luis Carlos Galán (which hosted the 1995 UCI Track Cycling World Championships) and Diamond El Salitre ballpark.

Bogotá hosted the first Bolivarian Games held in 1938. The city hosted the National Games in 2004, winning the championship. It was a sub-venue Bolivarian Pan American Games. In addition, the city on the route of the Tour of Colombia.

After being a major venue city for the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup that was held in Colombia, the Colombian Football Federation announced that Bogotá will be one of the venue cities to host the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup as well.

Religion

As in the rest of Colombia, the value of family unity is quite important in Bogotan society, which is especially prominent in religious celebrations and special times of the year.

Historically, the city has been predominantly Roman Catholic. Proof of this religious tradition is the number of churches built in the historic city center. The city has been seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bogotá since 22 March 1564. The seat of the Archbishop is the Primary Cathedral of Bogota; the archdiocese itself is located in new buildings in the north of the city. However a large group of the population nowadays declares itself non- practicing.

The city has a Muslim mosque located in the area of Chapinero called the Estambul mosque, a mosque currently being built on the Calle 80 with Cra 30 called Abou Bakr Alsiddiq mosque and which is the first in the city to have the traditional Islamic architecture, and an Islamic Center called Al-Qurtubi.

The main Ashkenazi Jewish synagogue (there are a total of 4 synagogues in Bogotá) is located on 94th street (also called State of Israel avenue). On 20 April 2011, an abusive hatred graffiti inscription ("Jews out" along with a swastika) was sprayed on the Ashkenazy Synagogue's wall, as what seems to be an anti-Semitic act. An Eastern Orthodox church and the San Pablo Anglican Cathedral, the mother church of the Episcopal Church in Colombia, are both located in Chapinero. The Mormon Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is located in the Niza neighborhood. There are four Buddhist centers located in the north of the city. There are also a wide variety of numerous Protestant churches in different parts of the city including the Bogotá Baptist Chapel, the non-denominational Union Church, and the St. Matthaus Evangelical Lutheran Church which holds services in German as well as Spanish for the German-Colombian community.

Gastronomy

A broad array of restaurants can be visited in Bogotá serving typical and international food. Parque de la 93, The G Zone, La Candelaria and the International Centre are some of the main sectors where a number of international restaurants are found.

Typical dishes of Bogotá include the Ajiaco, a soup prepared with chicken, a variety of potatoes, corn on the cob, and guascas (an herb), usually served with sour cream and capers.

Tamale is a very traditional Bogotá dish. Colombian tamal is a paste made with rice, meat or chicken, chickpea, carrot, and spices, wrapped in plantain leaves and steam cooked.

Figs with arequipe, strawberries with cream, postre de natas and cuajada con melao are some of the main desserts offered in the city. Canelazo is a hot drink from the Altiplano prepared with aguapanela, cinnamon and aguardiente.

Parks and recreation

There are many parks, many with facilities for concerts, plays, movies, storytellers and other activities.

"Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park" is a large park regularly used to stage free concerts (such as the annual Rock al Parque, a festival in which popular and/or recently formed international, latinamerican, and Colombian rock bands play free of charge).
The public Parque Nacional (National Park) has many trees and green spaces, ponds, games for children, foot and bicycle paths, and venues for entertainment such as public screenings of movies and concerts and events organized by the Council of Bogotá. It is located between two main streets, the Circunvalar Avenue and the 7th Avenue.
The Bogotá Botanical Garden (Jardín Botánico de Bogotá).
The Children's Museum of Bogotá (Museo de los Niños) is a science, technology and art interactive museum specializing in children and youngsters ages 2 to 19.
"Parque de la 93" is located between 93rd and 93Ath street, and 12th and 13th avenue, and has day-time leisure activities and nightlife. Several of the top restaurants and bars in the city are in this park.
Mundo Aventura is an amusement park, with an entry charge and charges for the different attractions. It has rides for adults and children, a petting zoo, and the "cerdodromo", where pigs race.
"Salitre Mágico" is another amusement park with rides and attractions. The park is near the Simón Bolívar park, where concerts are held throughout the year.
Parque del Chicó has trees, gardens, artificial creeks and ponds, and a colonial style house converted into a museum.
To the north Parque Jaime Duque has rides, a giant map of Colombia, popular exhibits, a zoo, and a big hand holding the world symbolizing God. There is a reproduction of the Taj Mahal in the park with a collection of reproductions of famous paintings. The park is also used for large concerts, mainly electronic music ones.
Maloka is an interactive museum of sciences.
Tourist train is a sightseeing train, popular with Bogotá residents, which runs to outlying towns Zipaquirá, Cajicá and Nemocón along the lines of the former Bogotá Savannah Railway on weekends. The route to Zipaquirá (famous for its salt cathedral) is long. Another line goes towards the north for and ends at Briceño.

source: Wikipedia

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