Bogotá is the capital and largest city of Colombia with a population of approximately 8 million people. It was founded in 1538 by the Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada and named Santafé at that time. When Colombia became independent in 1819, its liberator Simón Bolívar renamed the city with its current name to honour the Muisca indigenous group, who managed to grow until the arrival of the Spaniards. The Muiscas called the region Bacatá hence his interest for this name.
Built at an altitude of 2,640 meters above sea level, on a high plateau that is formed in the eastern cordillera of the Andes, Bogotá creates a magical call for exploration to every visitor. Because of the high altitude, Bogotá’s climate is among the coolest in the country. The weather is normally temperate during daytime (around 10-20°C) but can get quite chilly at night. Sometimes, Bogotá’s altitude can trigger mild dizziness or lack of energy because of the low oxygen concentration. The symptoms usually fade within a few days while the visitor is getting used to these conditions. Keeping yourself hydrated is quite important for the smooth adjustment. Also, a tea made of coca leaves could help, as it’s considered an old traditional medicine against the feeling of unwellness due to the altitude difference.
Regarding its architecture, Bogotá has been influenced by various styles but, at the same time, maintains its own character. Throughout the city you’ll find modern buildings next to striking red-brick apartment towers. In the historic centre and the neighbourhood of La Candelaria you’ll come across beautiful colonial and baroque style buildings, picturesque narrow streets and architectural landmarks well-preserved since their foundation, including libraries, museums and universities.
Bogotá is rapidly growing as a great gastronomic centre in Latin America. Currently, there is a boom of prestigious Colombian chefs showing new culinary initiatives of modern cuisine with local products and ingredients from different parts of the country.
Bogotá is also receiving increasing international attention with the various festivals and events that take place in the city, from cultural exhibitions and music festivals to trade fairs. Among those the International Book Fair (FILBo) stands out, as it’s considered one of the most important publishing events in Latin America. This fair takes place during two weeks in April. Another major cultural event in Colombia and one of the largest performing arts festivals in the world is the Iberoamerican Theatre Festival of Bogotá. Every two years and for seventeen days the Colombian capital transforms into a huge theatre stage and its streets are flooded with colourful parades and amazing performances. The various open-air music festivals (of rock music, hip-hop, jazz, salsa and other genres) also attract big crowds and some of the most famous music bands every year at the Simón Bolívar park.
This dynamic metropolis brings together the best of the country and yet is the perfect starting point for your trip to Colombia.