“ City: Bogota / Country: Colombia / World Region: South America „
Still dogged by a reputation as dangerous, Bogota defies those who would dismiss it as a cocaine fuelled haven of crime. This image, however, has one advantage in that it has kept away the tourist hoards and allow exploration of the city minus much of the hassle associated with foreign tourism.
Whilst far from the image of debauchery still portrayed in the western media it is worth making a note on safety as like all large cities Bogota does have its seedy side. Hemmed in by mountains the city has expanded to the north and south. the south is largely poor, often chanty towns and unsafe for tourists. Elsewhere street crime does occur and so use common sense precautions, don't wander around at night, particularly alone and don't carry what you can't afford to lose. It is advisable to get local advice before walking into unknown areas. And yes, cocaine is widely available but it is illegal and penalties can be high.
Bogota has a lot to do for a city that is largely still off the 'gringo trail'. the colonial area of La Candelaria is where many tourists stay and is a great place to walk round admiring the sometimes crumbling but charming colonial buildings and popping into cafes for coffee and cake.
Plaza Bolivar is the historic heart of the city and contains many of the city important buildings such as the Capitolio and the Palacio de Justicia, which replaces a building taken in 1985 by M-19 guerillas and gutted by fire. There are also churches scattered throughout the old part of the city but one of the most impressive is the Iglesia de Santa Clara, now a museum with paintings covering it's inside walls.
Bogota is a city of museums and there is likely to be something that captures your attention. For me the most important were; el museo del oro, which has a huge collection of mostly pre-hispanic gold pieces and informative displays (in English too); el Donacion Botero, which features the work of Colombian's most famous artists Botero himself as well as pieces by Picasso, Dali, Chagall and more; el Museo Hostorico Policia, an account of the history of the police in Colombia but the star attraction is the bloodied jacket of Pablo Escobar from when he was eventually killed.
The final big attraction in Bogota is the Cerro de monserrate, a mountain overlooking the city which can be reached by a teleferico (cable car) or by foot (go in a group as robbery is often reported). There is a church at the top which has many miracles attributed to its Christ statue. It also has a fantastic view over the city, showing just how big it actually is.
"City in central Colombia, capital of the country, coextensive with Bogotá Capital District. Bogotá officially named Bogotá, D.C. (D.C. for "Distrito Capital", which means "Capital District"), also called Santa Fe de Bogotá is the capital of Colombia, as well as the largest and by far the most populous city in the country with 6,776,009 inhabitants (2005 census)."