20th December 2010

Tired, shabby, traffic snarled Bogotá [7] was a shock after the quiet little colonial villages.  Colombia´s capital, founded in 1538 by Spanish explorers, is located on a plateau in the Andes at 2600 meters.  It was cold and wet, but the people warm and friendly.  From the church atop Cerro Montserrat are wonderful views of the city and surrounding countryside (on a good day).


By staying at Casa Platypus in La Candelaria, we were close to the sights of the old centre.  We started our walk at the Plaza del Toros, the Mudéjar style red brick bull ring, and continued via many interesting historical churches to the post colonial government buildings.  The gold museum, the finest in the world, which displays magnificent gold and pottery artefacts from pre-Hispanic Colombia kept us occupied for a rainy afternoon.


On Sunday, we took the steam train to Zipaquirá [8] to visit the Salt Cathedral, the world’s largest underground cathedral which can hold 8400 people, built in a salt mine 180 metres below ground level.  The train was slow but musicians playing flutes of the Andes, traditional Colombian music and jazz livened up the trip.  When we returned to the Bogotá railway station in the evening, there were no taxis.  A kind Colombian family we met on the train, fearing for our safety, offered to drive us back to our hostel.  We took up their offer and were very grateful to them.


We couldn´t leave Bogotá without trying the local speciality – Lechona, a whole pig carcass stuffed with its own meat, rice and dried peas.


Church on top of Cerro Montserrat overlooks Bogotá

Mudéjar style bullring

One of Bogotá´s 200 churches

Street in La Candelaria

Lady begging

Gold funerary ornamnets ...

... in Bogotá´s gold museum

Yellow church

Striped Gothic church

The Cathedral


Filming a telenovela (TV soap opera) on a Bogotá street

Steam train to Zipaquirá

Musicians played


Mass in the Cathedral inside an old salt mine