Bogotá/La Candelaria

View down Calle 10

La Candelaria is the historic center of Bogotá, and the city's principal destination for tourists. Home to the top museums, the government palaces, and beautiful old colonial buildings along narrow cobblestone streets, it's a must see.


The colonial district is officially the first neighborhood of Bogotá . Colombia's capital city was founded here in 1538 by Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada y Rivera in a spot known today as El Chorro de Quevedo. The next year, authorities re-founded the city a few blocks away at what is now known as the Plaza de Bolívar. Bogotá then grew up around the neighborhood. Because the city expanded west and north, La Candelaria retained much of its colonial atmosphere. The neighborhood is full of cobblestone streets and centuries-old houses. It is now a tourist attraction and university district, as well as the site of Colombia's government. Here you'll find most of the public buildings, both from the City and the Country's government. Historical squares, 400 year old churches, picturesque narrow streets are all here, mixing along modern developments of financial business high towers.

Many landmark events in the history of Colombian and South American independence took place in the La Candelaria, district including the near killing and escape of Simon Bolivar, the execution of revolutionary heroine Policarpa Salavarrieta, known as 'La Pola,' and the Grito de Libertad, known as the beginning of the region's revolution. And the district is indeed teeming with history, and there are a lot of interesting museums and old churches in what is the oldest Bogotá neighborhood. Some streets are reserved to pedestrians. The most important places are La Catedral, Plaza de Bolivar, Palacio de Nariño, Iglesia del Carmen, Biblioteca Luis A Arango (blaa), the Colonial Art Museum and the old architecture of the houses and buildings, almost all of the museums charge no admission. La Candelaria also contains numerous Catholic Churches, many of them centuries-old. The Colombian-American and Colombian-French cultural centers are located in La Candelaria, and a Colombian-Spanish cultural center is under construction.

Get in

There are two J Zone stations on the Transmilenio in La Candelaria: Museo del Oro and Las Aguas, with the Museo del Oro stop being the most convenient to most everything. But since few buses go to the tiny J Zone, it often makes sense to get of at the A Zone station Avenida Jiménez and walk a few extra blocks. Av Jiménez does not have the safest location, though, after dark.

Carrera 7 (Séptima), which runs through Plaza de Bolívar, is the main avenue, but is most often pedestrian-only, making it a bad place to look for busetas and colectivos. One-way southbound Carrera 4 (Cuarta) is where you'll find colectivos coming from the north, always signed with "Luis Ángel Arango" (the library), while you can find northbound colectivos on Carrera 5 (Quinta).

Inside La Candelaria, there really is no need to get around by any way other than on foot. Rare is the walk that takes more than 10 minutes, unless you're climbing a hill while adjusting to altitude, but that's another story!


Plaza de Bolívar, celebrating Christmas with giant bulbs



Iglesia de la Candelaria



While La Candelaria, and Centro in general, is not the city's premier nightlife destination by a long stretch, there's still a good range of places to visit. Dance floors are almost non-existent, though, so club-hoppers really should get on the Transmilenio and head north. The few dance options are usually packed with university students.


Gold figures at the Museo del Oro


Plazeta del Chorro, where Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada founded the city in 1538, and now a popular nighttime hangout spot for students.


Dusk approaches, time to party!


Stay safe

La Candelaria, very unfortunately, is just not a safe neighborhood, although this does keep the accommodation prices down! Homicides are a thing of the past, but knife-point muggings are downright common, and a few hostels have even been stormed, briefly held hostage, and thoroughly robbed/mildly assaulted by heavily armed gangs in the past couple years. Hopefully subsequent stepped up police presence and improved hostel security will render this terrifying crime a thing of the past too. Returning to your hostel at night from a place further away is often best done by taxi, which are fairly cheap.

This is not to say that you will have problems—in all likelihood you'll be just fine—but La Candelaria demands extra precautions. At night most residents lock their steel doors and leave the streets empty, which naturally makes them safer, but you more vulnerable if you are walking around alone or in a small group. If you are staying in a hostel, though, there is usually a good nightlife scene without going outside! The big exception is on Thursdays and Fridays, which are the Bogotanos' "going out" nights, and the area stays bustling until late. During the day, you should generally be fine. When picking a place to stay, keep in mind that your personal security is best the less that you have to walk the quiet narrow streets at night; staying closer to Kra 7 or Ave Jimenez will decrease the distance to main streets. The neighborhoods to the south and especially southeast across the Circunvalar (the beautiful old decaying neighborhood of Egipto is particularly notorious) are very dangerous at all times of the day, and the violence from those neighborhoods can and does spill into La Candelaria.


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, February 25, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.