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Bogota – All That Glitters…

semi-overcast 19 °C

The city of Bogota, (originally named Santa-Fe when it was founded by the Spanish conquistadors in 1538), was built with the gold and silver seized from the Chibcha indigenous peoples who had lived here for millennia. Most of the precious metals ended up in the pockets of the king of Spain - if it wasn’t stolen by British pirates en-route to the old world -, but luckily some survived and can be seen in the impressive Museum of Gold in Bogota’s historic Candelaria district. These are a couple of the beautiful objects used by the Chibcha for religious and ceremonial purposes…
The extensive museum has a faultless display of artefacts, with excellent presentations and descriptions in Spanish and English, made all the better by its free entry on Sundays, (although it is never expensive).

Equally extensive and beautifully presented, (and equally free), are the museums and art galleries of the Casa de Moneda; previously the royal mint, where the nation’s gold was stamped into coins with giant presses made in Birmingham, England…
While many of the art galleries in the Casa are dedicated to the Great Masters such as Renoir and Picasso, most of the works are by renowned Colombian artist Botero. All of Botero’s paintings, sketches and sculptures feature dietarily challenged people, grotesquely fat animals and chunky artefacts, and take a bit of getting used to. This is his view of the Mona Lisa…
Despite its historic association with the alluring metal, the streets of Bogota are not paved with gold today and there are a number of areas where tourists are firmly advised not to go. However, in general the streets are safe and well maintained, (though it is clear that someone is doing dodgy business surreptitiously recycling metal manhole covers), and there is an excellent public transit system using triple length bendy buses on dedicated lanes…
Bogota is clearly a wealthy city: rich in culture; rich in architecture and rich in heritage. The Colombian coffee is great and the food is excellent and inexpensive, (grilled chicken lunch with soup and bottomless juice for less than $4 Cdn. in a local restaurant), and we have enjoyed everything – except the rain.
After a couple days dodging heavy downpours we began to lose hope of seeing the city from atop the nearby mountain of Monserrate, (10,000 feet above sea level), but then the skies began to clear and we could finally see the church that sits on the summit of the mountain…
We raced for the cable car and by the time we reached the summit the sun was shining and we had a birdseye view of the city for 30 minutes before the sky darkened again…
Bogotans are used to the rain – everyone seems to carry an umbrella. But without the frequent year round deluges their city would not be set midst a sea of green…

Posted by Hawkson 05:46 Archived in Colombia

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thanks for this different view I had of Bogota. I always just want to get out of there after traveling non stop from Vancouver, Toronto, Bogota and not having any sleep. Driving or going by bus north to Kelly's place is spectacular. You see so many different kinds of trees. I love the many trees that are in bloom this time of year.

by Jean McLaren

A wonderful new city to explore. Beautiful photos. Many thanks. Food looks delicious.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Glad to see your luck with breaks in the weather hold. Friends in high places?


by Tom

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