The center of Colombia’s government lies in and around Plaza de Bolívar in the historic La Candelaria area of Bogotá. This large plaza has gone through a long and often tumultuous history witnessing devastating guerrilla attacks.
Monument to Simón Bolívar
In the middle of the plaza sits a statue of liberator Simón Bolívar. It was placed there in 1846 as the first public monument in the city.
The Catedral Primada was built in 1807. The official name is Sacro-Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada Basílica Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción de María en Bogotá. Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, founder of Bogotá, is buried inside. The interior of the cathedral is quite boring and unimpressive.
Capilla del Sagrario
Moving clockwise from the cathedral, next door is a chapel with beautiful works of art. The Capilla del Sagrario was built in 1660. The Palacio Cardenalicio (Cardinal’s Palace), former Palacio Arzobispal, sits to the right of the chapel.
Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé
On the corner to the right of the Palacio Cardenalicio is the Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé, founded in 1604. To this day it’s a very prestigious high school, with alumni including many important politicians and figures in Colombian history.
The other building on Plaza de Bolívar is Palacio Liévano. It was built in 1902 and home to the alcaldía (city hall).
Palacio de Justicia
On the east end is the Palacio de Justicia (Supreme Court of Colombia). The Supreme Court has seen it’s share of tragedy. The original building was built a block away in 1921 but was burned down in 1948 during El Bogotazo. The next building was built on the current site in 1960 but destroyed by M-19 guerillas in a 1985 fight against the Colombian army. Almost 100 people were killed, including 11 Supreme Court justices, and seven people disappeared.