La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is a popular place to visit in Santa Marta, just a 15 minute taxi ride from the city center. It’s a peaceful green area tucked away within the sprawl of the modern city, but you wouldn’t know it by being there.
La Quinta de San Pedro not only has the city’s botanical gardens, but it is also very historically significant to nearly all of Latin America. The 17th century home on the grounds is where Simón Bolívar, liberator of Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, died in 1830.
After entering, the first things you will see are the many trees and plants on the grounds and a small bridge that Bolívar crossed when he arrived at the house. Many of the trees are labeled in Spanish and English with their origin.
The most impressive is a giant fig tree from Asia. Its branches sprawl across the footpaths and strangle other trees to make them all look like one giant tree with several trunks.
Mill and Distillery
Next, you will come to the mill and the distillery. They don’t leave much to the imagination and are not in good condition.
The actual home where Bolívar died is next to the mill. It has a beautifully manicured courtyard with palm trees and plants.
The interior contains rooms with authentic furniture, including the bed where Bolívar died. Some of the rooms contain art and artifacts about the life of El Libertador. One room contains a life sized mold of him lying in state, constructed using his death mask. It is forbidden to take photos inside the rooms.
A large mural by Peruvian artist Mauro Rodriguez sits on the grounds. It explains the life and death of Bolívar and the struggle for independence. It was made in 1988.
Altar de la Patria
The most prominent building on the site is the Altar de la Patria, built in 1930. It is a pantheon that pays tribute to Bolívar. The exterior panel shows a relief from the scene of his deathbed.
There is an incredible statue inside, depicting Bolívar in a god-like manner with two angels at either side.
The front pathway leading up to the Altar de la Patria is flanked by flags from every country in the Americas, making for a dramatic scene.
The Museo Bolivariano is near the Altar de la Patria. It contains several works of modern art and sculpture, along with an outdoor amphitheater, Teatro Joaquín de Mier y Benítez.
La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is open from 9AM to 5:30PM daily. Admission is COP$12,000 for adults and COP$10,000 for children. Guided tours are offered in English and Spanish for tips. A taxi ride to the grounds costs COP$6,000 (as of October 2014).