Bogotá is the capital of Colombia. With its 8 to 9 million inhabitants it is the biggest city of Colombia. Nearly 25% of the country’s population lives in Bogotá. The city is located in the region Andes and is 2,6 km above sea level, making the temperature pretty low compared to the rest of Colombia. The average temperature in Bogotá is 14,5 degrees Celsius, not really what you expect from a tropical city. The temperatures range from 6 to 19 °C (43 to 66 °F). It is said that a lot of the prosperity of Bogotá stems from this lower temperature. Tropical diseases are less common in colder climates, an important factor in the past. Some people claim that the cooler weather makes it easier nowadays to be productive at the office. In sharp contrast with Cali or Neiva, where it’s too hot to work most of the year without airconditioning.
Why visit Bogota?
OK, so for the weather you don’t need to go. But Bogotá has plenty of things to make up for that! Bogotá is definaltely worth a visit if you are planning to travel to Colombia. Especially the historical city center La Candelaria is a great place to visit.
Important tourist stops in Bogotá include the national observatory, the botanical garden José Celestino Mutis, La Quinta de Bolivar, the planetarium, Maloka, the Colpatria observation point, the observation point of La Calera, The Colombian National Museum and the monument of the American flags.
History of Bogota
In pre-Colombia times the area in which Bogotá is located was inhabitated by indigenous people. There where two large tribes living in the area, consisting of around half a million people. At that time this was a huge population. The indiginous people were mainly farmers, did some hunting and fishing and traded salt from saltmines and other products with neighboring tribes. Their skills in goldsmith practices are amazing. They had perfected the skills of melting gold and forming the most intricate figures and body modifications like piercings, jewelry and body decoration. They had many different techniques to melt and mold gold, even using different gold alloys to created pieces of gold with different melting points. This in turn could be used to make 3D figures in great detail. The gold was used in many religious practices. The indigenous people that used to live in the area of Bogotá worshipped the sun, moon and stars and also rivers and lakes. Many gold figures where sacrificed to the gods by dumping them in lakes.
At 1538 the Spaniards arrived in the area of Bogotá. This marks the decline of the population and culture of the indigenous people. Around 1538 an urban settlement was founded which was named Santa Fé de Bacatá. This city continued to grow and develop, having around 30.000 people in the year 1819. The name “Bacatá” had become the modern name “Bogotá” by the time it was made the capital of the New Kingdom of Granada. Santa Fé is still a district in the urban area Bogotá D.C.
Travel information and safety in Bogota
Colombia has a bad reputation for tourism because of the turmoil in the 80’s. Nowadays Bogotá is much safer and as a result tourism is increasing. Many hotels and hostels are settling in Bogotá and much effort is put into making the city safe and easy to navigate. Of course there are still some things you’d better not do in bogotá for your own safety. Some neighborhoods are dangerous to visit alone at night.
The public transport in Bogotá is of good quality. Since 2006 a very modern bus system has been established in Bogotá called transmilenio. This bus line has its own lane and travels fast and efficient. It’s a bit tricky to be able to ride it as a tourist, as you need a special pass for it. The more traditional bus lines are also still available. These buses range from modern to very old and can take you anywhere. It’s a bit difficult to find out where you need to be to get on to a bus, but if you manage you will have a cheap and relatively quick ride. Other options for transport in Bogotá are taxis.
Pictures of Bogota