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Packed with lovely pastel-coloured houses, beautiful cathedrals, trendy cafés and interesting shops, the historic neighbourhood La Candelaria is the vibrant heart of Bogotá. Although the neighbourhood lies in the middle of the city, it has a friendly laidback small town atmosphere.
According to locals, La Candelaria is one of the few places in the capital where people really seem to know each other and take the time to sit down over coffee or play a game of chess. This is where the Spaniards founded Bogotá in 1538. They built colonial-style churches and houses and constructed wide boulevards and cobblestoned streets. This neighbourhood is perfect for a long leisurely stroll. And although in the following centuries the city has grown and modernized, La Candelaria still oozes history.
Musicians, acrobats and comedians entertain the public with their acts. Balloon and pineapple sellers flog their wares as children enjoy a ride on a decked out llama. This is the Plaza de Bolívar where the residents of La Candelaria gather to enjoy a friendly chat, sip a glass of freshly squeezed juice at one of the stalls or simply watch the colourful crowd. Don’t forget to visit the impressive Catedral Primada, which overlooks the square. This enormous neo-classic temple was built in 1823; previous cathedrals constructed on this location had collapsed due to poor construction or were destroyed in earthquakes. This is the biggest cathedral in Colombia and one of the largest in South America.
Bogotá boasts around 80 museums and the best 3 are right in La Candelaria. The Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) offers an impressive display of Colombia’s heritage. More than 34,000 gold objects are showcased and most artefacts are antiquities. The Casa de la Moneda, housed in the beautiful historic mint, takes visitors back in time as they learn everything about the history of money. The Museu Botero is also housed in a lovely antique mansion and displays the work of the amazing Colombian artist Fernando Botero.
It only takes 15 minutes to ride the tram or cable car to the top of Cerro de Monserrate. On foot and accompanied by the pilgrims who make the climb every Sunday to honour the statue of Christ in the church, the climb takes a bit longer. No matter how you reach the top, this 3200-metre-high mountain will reward you with a magnificent view of the city. In addition to the view there is also a market, several cafés and even a few outstanding restaurants.