The oldest part of Bogotá is located in an area called La Candelaria. It has been undergoing an extensive rebirth in recent years and is full of colorful refurbished colonial homes and buildings, several museums, and many churches, all set dramatically at the foot of a lush green mountain. This entry will talk about some of the random buildings in the area.
Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez
The Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez, named after Colombia’s greatest author, is located a short walk east of the cathedral from Plaza de Bolívar. It features a bookstore and temporary exhibits.
Teatro de Cristóbal Colón
The Teatro de Cristóbal Colón, built in 1892 and recently refurbished, is a famous theatre that has had a long and colorful history.
Palacio de San Carlos
Across the street from the theatre is a historic building that was once the presidential headquarters of Simón Bolívar. It’s called Palacio de San Carlos and was completed around 1580. A small plaque in Latin tells of Bolívar’s escaped from an assassination attempt in 1828.
Home of Manuelita Sáenz
East of Plaza de Bolívar from the Capitolio Nacional is the former home of Manuelita Sáenz, a mistress of Simón Bolívar and revolutionary hero. The home is the location of the Museo de Trajes Regionales (Museum of Regional Clothing).
Casa de los Derechos del Hombre
The Casa de Manuelita Sáenz sits on Plazuela Rufino Cuervo. On this small plaza is the Casa de los Derechos del Hombre, where Antonio Nariño translated the Declaration of the Rights of Man from French to Spanish, made copies from his personal press, and began to distribute them to politically like-minded friends. This act started spinning the wheels of revolution in South America. For his role in distribution of the pamphlet, Nariño was sentenced to 10 years of prison in Africa and exiled from South America. He escaped from imprisonment in Spain (twice!) in order to aid the revolution.
Palacio de Nariño
The heavy security presence south of Plaza de Bolívar is for the Palacio de Nariño, the presidential palace of Colombia, built in 1906. You can pass the security checkpoints by letting the police search your bags. Free tours of the palace are available with a reservation form on the official website. They last about an hour, and visitors are not allowed to bring bags, cameras, or phones. It’s best to leave them in your hotel or you may be denied entry. Wearing shorts or flip flops is not allowed.
Wandering La Candelaria
The best part about La Candelaria isn’t the museums or churches, but rather just wandering around the streets through the colonial buildings. I’ll end this entry by leaving you with a few images of La Candelaria.