Bogota - Colombia
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Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, lies at an altitude of 2,640 m (8,660 ft) on the Cordillera Oriental of the Northern Andean Mountains. The city is situated at the base of two mountains, Guadalupe and Monserrate.

The city was originally called Bacatá by the Muiscas, was the center of their civilization before the Spanish conquest, and sustained a large population. The European settlement was founded in August 6, 1538, by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada and was named "Santa Fé de Bacatá" after his birthplace Santa Fé. The local name "Bacatá" became the modern "Bogota" over time.

View from Bogota - Colombia

Santa Fé de Bogota (the official name), is a city that will impress you (either positive or negative). In recent years a lot of effort has been put to make the city a safe haven for locals and visitors alike.

For good food, there are lots of restaurants around the city, but the best are located in La Zona G (which means the Gastronomic Zone). To get your feet moving on some music you can go to the clubs and discos in La Zona Rosa (the pink zone). And if you feel like shopping you can go to the nearby Centro Commercial El Andino.

Artifact of the Museum of Gold in Bogota - Colombia Absolute highlight in Bogota is its Golden Museum (Museo del Oro), the many artifacts that are exhibited are astonishing. I have never seen so much gold in one place. A must do if you are in the city.

Other highlights are taking the cable car to reach the viewpoint (you can take the cable car) from Monserrate Hill (Cerro de Monserrate) and the Iglesia de la Tercera Orden (Church) for the intricate carvings on it is mahogany altar.

La Candelaria is the oldest neighborhood in Bogota. Its a wonderful place to walk around during the day, with lots of wonderful architecture, colonial houses, some museums and some governmental buildings, such as the presidential palace. Don't be shy about going into some of the hotels around here, you will be able to see great examples of the early Spanish architecture.



Other attractions of the city are:

Cathedral of salt of Zipaquira (Catedral de Sal at Zipaquira), a contender for the eighth wonder of the world, this underground cathedral is being chiseled out of a former salt mine.

Old Bogota (La Candelaria), a lively neighborhood section of the city that features small shops and ancient churches. The neighborhood includes a number of attractions including The Plaza de Bolivar, The Bogota Cathedral, The Gold Museum, The Fundación Botero, The Religious Art Museum, The Coin House and The Library Luis Angel Arango.

Some general tips:

1) When taking taxis at night in Bogota, always call for the taxi on the phone. They will give you a key code, when the taxi shows up the driver will give you the same key code. It is for your safety.
2) Like in any other big city watch out for pickpockets.
3) Be careful with your drinks in bars, someone may put something in them.
4) Neighborhoods such as La Zona Rosa, Zona G, Usaquen and Parque 93 are all safe at night. The other places I have mentioned, which are less busy (and less patrolled) in the evening, are best left for the daytime.
5) Don't get paranoid and enjoy your stay.


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© All photographs by Mark Van Overmeire