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Colombian Metropolis

Bogotá is Colombia's capital and chief city—the national hub for finance, education, and commerce. It is also the address of some of the continent's best museums, galleries, restaurants, and nightlife.

Although at first glance, Bogota appears wholly modern, the city is deeply rooted in the 16th century. Its heritage as a capital go back even farther; Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada founded Spanish Bogota in 1538 on the site of the Muisca capital—Bacatá.

The city's historic core—La Candelaria—contains a fine collection of colonial and neoclassical architecture. The quarter's historic houses (or casonas) are characterized by iron-grated windows, monumental wooden doors, ornate balconies, and introverted gardens. At the center of it all is Plaza de Bolivar, anchored by the 16th century Cathedral Primada de Colombia with its twin bell towers. Flanking the plaza are the Palace of Justice and the National Capitol, which bear traces of renaissance and neoclassical lineage.

La Candelaria the site of more than a dozen museums, with collections spanning archeology, national history, and sacred art. A few blocks east of Plaza Bolivar is the Museo Botero, dedicated to the sculpture of Fernando Botero. The museum also displays works by Picasso, Renoir, Dali, Matisse, Monet and Giacometti. Five blocks to the north, the Museo del Oro houses a collection of more than 34,000 pre-Columbian gold objects, as well as another 20,000 stone, ceramic, textile, and precious stone artifacts.

A few miles north of the historic core are the Zona T (Zona Rosa) and Parque 93, where you'll find some of the city's top restaurants, nightclubs, and hotels. The hilly Macarena district, just east of downtown, is home to avant-garde boutiques, galleries and cafés.

Bogota's urban bustle ends abruptly at the foot of Cerro de Monseratte, a forested Andean peak rising 1,800 feet above the capital's eastern edge. Visitors can ride a tramway or a funicular to the iconic hilltop church, enjoying picnic lunches and spectacular views.

Bogota is surrounded by worthwhile day-trip options. To the southeast is Fusagasuga—the site orchid and coffee plantations. To the north lies Zipaquira, known for its lovely plaza and the unique Salt Cathedral—a cave-like chapel located 650 feet below ground in a halite mountain. Villa de Leyva, 100 miles north of Bogota, is a stunning whitewashed town founded in 1572.

At 8,660 feet above sea level, Bogotá is the third highest capital in the hemisphere. Due in part to its altitude, Bogota enjoys a perpetually spring-like climate. Daily temperatures range from the mid-40's at night to the high 60's in the afternoon. Precipitation is light. Only October and November receive average monthly rainfall slightly in excess of two inches. Take advantage of the fine weather by visiting the botanical garden or an outdoor market. On Sundays, the city's central streets overflow with bicycles, street performers, and pushcart kitchens.

Nonstop flights connect Bogota's El Dorado International Airport with Cartagena (90 minutes); Panama City, Panama (90 minutes); Quito, Ecuador (90 minutes); San Jose, Costa Rica (just over 2 hours); Miami (3.5 hours); and New York (6 hours).

Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Colombia and throughout South America. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.

"Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers, that the mind can never break off from the journey."

Pat Conroy