Highlights and main attractions of Bogota

An unusual cocktail of old and new, soaring skyscrapers sit alongside bold colonial buildings and vast plazas from the Spanish colonial era. Well recognised as a city that has managed to change its face completely from what was a reputation of trouble and unrest, today Bogota like the rest of Colombia is welcoming visitors with open arms as the gateway to what is a fascinating country.

The capital of Colombia, Bogota, is a surprisingly cosmopolitan city; a quaint and charming old town with a civilised air of sophistication that earned the title ‘Athens of Latin America’. 

Where is Bogota?

History and where to explore

Founded in 1538, the city is located in the centre of Colombia to the east of the Andes on a plateau that sits 2,640 metres above sea level. Such is its geographically strategic position that it enjoys good connections to Europe and the rest of Latin America. It was conquistador Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada who originally established the city when in search of El Dorado. Nowadays it is a heaving metropolis of about 7 million inhabitants; street vendors peddle local arepas (maize pancakes) and filled waffles, whilst suit-clad Bogotans go purposefully about their business.

The old town of the city, known as ‘La Candelaria’, is an atmospheric quarter of cobbled streets, colourful houses and historical buildings where the most characterful hotels are situated. The Gold Museum is the largest in the country and houses one of the most important collections of gold artefacts in Latin America - and the world, with glittering exhibits and informative guides that highlight the enormous significance of this precious metal in Colombia.

Outside of the centre take the cable car up to the dizzying lookout of Monserrate, the highest point in the city. One hour north of Bogota also lies an unusual attraction, the underground salt cathedral of Zipaquira. Here crosses are carved into excavated salt walls, and if your timing is lucky, when you descend into the cathedral you may witness a priest delivering a sermon 120 metres underground!

Bogota has some unique and intimate colonial hotels, such as Casa de la Botica, which was originally constructed in 17th century in the heart of the Candelaria and has been expertly renovated whilst retaining its historical value. Alternatively the Hotel de la Opera is also in the Candelaria, a delightful example of a 5-star hotel from the colonial era.

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