Caracas is Venezuela's chief city—its political, financial, and cultural capital. More than 20% of the country's population—roughly six million people—are residents of the greater metropolitan area.
The city is cradled in a narrow valley of the Coastal Cordillera at roughly 3,000 feet above sea level. Caracas was founded in 1567 by Spanish Captain Diego de Losada. Over the next several centuries, the inland mountain location largely safeguarded Caracas from the pirates who prowled the Caribbean Coast. Cocoa cultivation added to the city's prominence, and in 1777 Caracas became the capital of the Spanish captaincy. Simon Bolivar, the great liberator, was born here in 1783 and led Venezuela to independence in 1821. In the 20th century, Venezuela's oil production fueled an economic boom that added skyscrapers, shopping centers and modernist monuments.
The city's colonial heritage is most accessible in the older, western section surrounding Plaza Bolivar. To the plaza's east are the gleaming cathedral—rebuilt after the 1641 earthquake—and the museum of sacred art. To the southwest, the National Assembly is notable for its golden dome and interior garden. Its neighbor, the lovely Concejo Municipal, was completed in 1696. Simon Bolivar's birthplace, now a museum, is located just one block southeast of the plaza that bears his name.
The National Pantheon, a former church located five blocks to the north, serves as the resting place for more than 100 of Venezuela's most eminent leaders and icons. Less than a mile to the east are three of the country's finest museums: the Museum of Colonial Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Caracas is modern city, thick with contrasts and complexities; experienced local guides are essential. The eastern neighborhoods of El Rosal, Altamira and Los Palos Grandes form the city's commercial core; many of the best hotel, restaurant and shopping options are located here. The Las Mercedes zone is known for its active night life; caraqueños seem to rumba inexhaustibly from midnight until dawn on weekends. Outside the city, hikers and birdwatchers will find respite in El Avila National Park.
The climate of Caracas, although tropical, is cooled by the city's altitude. Year round, highs are generally below 90°F. Overnight lows can be chilly, reaching 55°F. The rainy season begins in late May and extends through October. From June to October, electrical storms are not uncommon. Still, even the wettest months (June to August) rarely receive more than five inches of precipitation.
Most travelers from the USA reach Caracas via regional hub airports, such as Bogota (two hours) and Panama City (just over two hours). Direct flights from Atlanta reach Caracas in 4.5 hours. Maiquetia International Airport (CCS) is situated 20 miles, or roughly 35 minutes, from the city center. The Caribbean Coast is roughly 15 miles to the north.
Caracas is the natural arrival point for trips to Venezuela. Most of our clients spend only one or two nights in the capital before departing to the Caribbean Coast, the archipelago of Los Roques, Angel Falls, or the Gran Sabana.
Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Venezuela 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.
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