Big Bogotá

11 million people only makes it Number 27 on the world list of city populations. But it’s big.

Again I start with the main colonial square which is the heart of the La Candelaria district.

Plaza de Bolivar is huge and without greenery. But the weather is mainly cloudy with a maximum of 20 so I’m not looking for shade.

I would nickname it Pigeon Plaza because there are a dozen people selling corn for them.

Catedral Primada de Colombia covers one side.

It was started in 1807 and completed in 1823.

Palacio de Justica Alfonso Reyes Echandia (Justice Department) is on another side.

Palacio Llévano (1910) on the third side is the City Hall and mayor’s headquarters.

Capitolio Nacional (1926) is the home of Colombia’s House of Congress and is on the fourth side.

Statue of Simón Bolívar

Back of the Capitolio Nacional

And across the lawn is the official home of the Colombian president.

There were many streets blocked and guards checking backpacks.

Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen (1926-1938) was two blocks away. It is an example of Florentine Gothic style with Byzantine and Moorish touches. Very unique!

Iglesia de San Francisco was built between 1557-1621 and is Bogotá’s oldest surviving church.

There was fabric hanging in front of the most elaborate altar in Bogotá so you could not see it well from the back.

I also had crashed the service and have included the sign saying ‘No photos’ as an extra touch.

Bogotá is a huge sprawling city of 11 million. Canada’s population is only 44 million.

I was staying in the Chapinero district so it’s over 6 km to Bolivar Plaza.

Bogotá has an excellent system called Transmilenio. There are three-car articulated buses that run on dedicated lanes. They stop on either side of a central platform.

There are regular buses that can also stop at these stations. As well as regular doors, they have sliding doors on the left to let people in/out.

And it’s all accessed by a reloadable card you swipe. About 3000 pesos (less than Cdn$1) per ride.

Yes, lots of zeros with the prices here! 3500 pesos is Cdn $1. The bills just say 20 mil (thousand) so you have to watch.

Ecuador was so easy because they use the US$.

Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) covers the history of gold in Pre-Columbian times. There are thousands of pieces of jewelry and religious artifacts.

Seven thin sheets of gold pressed onto a sea snail (200 BC-1300 AD). The folds and clips are still visible. The natural shell has decomposed.

Doors to each section are vault doors.

The fruit here is amazing. And they sell it on corner as well as fruterias – restaurants for fruit salads/juices and other snacks.

Museo Botero was a excellent mix of Fernando Botero’s own paintings and sculptures, as well as others.

Salvador Dalí


It was in lovely colonial house with the central garden. If you look behind the house, you can see a mountain. That’s where I went next.

Cerró de Monserrate is capped with a church.

You can walk the 1500 steps (60-90 minutes) or take the Funicular or Teleférico (cable car).

The Funicular runs in the morning, the cable car in the afternoon.

It was a nice walk back into Centro.

Police museum

Sculpture made from police badges

Peaceful courtyard dedicated to fallen officers. There were names and individualized paintings.

Museo Santa Clara is a gorgeous church (1629-1684) deconsecrated in 1968. The government acquired it and it is now a museum with paintings from Colombia’s baroque artists.

It was also the only museum that wasn’t free or just $2-3. It was 52,000 pesos! Almost Cdn$15!

So I took lots of photos.


This tree had the largest leaves that looked like fig leaves.

Definitely in meat country!

Traditional Columbian charcoal barbecue restaurant.

I had the mixed plate with chicken, pork, beef rib, potato, plantain, guacamole, arepa and fresh lemonade for Cdn$8. I managed half and would have liked sauce or more moisture.

Grilled pork, rice, yucca, green beans, soup and lemonade for Cdn$8. The beans were cooked with onion and a mild sauce that was appreciated.

Selling all the deep-fried or baked goods.

I had an arepa with meat, and a fresh squeezed orange juice. 10,500 pesos (Cdn$3).

Arepas are made with fine cornmeal. They are very crispy on the outside but soft inside. I had the cheese version another day, where the cheese was cooked inside.

They are different from the Venezuelan arepas which are thinner and have a higher meat ratio.

My hotel continued the cattle theme.

Bomb sniffing dogs checking out vehicles going into parkades. This was just before they said ‘no photos allowed’.

Then to Villa de Leyva. 35,000 pesos (Cdn$10) for the 4 hour trip.

Bogotá has a new bus terminal that was so easy.

I went to the ‘red’ entrance ‘3’ which had the ticket counters and departures for buses going north of Bogotá.

The bus companies have little waiting rooms and staff to check that only ticket holders are allowed on the platform.

Villa de Leyva, with well preserved colonial architecture, was declared a national monument in 1954.

Villa de Leyva, with the largest plaza in the smallest town!

I tried to take a panoramic photo to capture the size, but borrowed an aerial shot from my hotel’s website.

Largest cobblestone plaza in South America.

What were they thinking!

The town centre is pedestrian only, and the streets are full of whitewashed buildings with balconies and flowers.

600,000 pesos = Cdn$170

Another colonial hotel. Great atmosphere but no soundproofing.

I love looking into the courtyards.

Beautiful tile.

Hamburguesería con camarón (with shrimp), salad and beer for Cdn$13.

Vegetarian menu del día (quinoa patty, plantain, salad, rice, soup, mango juice) for Cdn$5.

In Colombia I’ve found they serve ripe plantain rather than more green. When it’s roasted like this it is almost caramelized.

Caldo de costilla ‘beef rib’ soup is a very popular breakfast. Cdn$2.25.

I need to try another place as I found it very greasy with little flavour in the broth.

Empanada Ranchero (spicy meat, cheese, corn) for Cdn$0.45

Buñuelo (slightly sweet doughnut ball) for Cdn$0.29. And she asked me twice if I only wanted one😂

They make juice by blending the fruit with water (or milk). So it’s thick because it’s not strained.

The bus station for my last trip to Bogotá. A quick overnight at an airport hotel, and then off to Salento tomorrow.

The fresh air, lack of traffic, and no need for a map has been a welcome break.

Only 17 more sleeps left in this trip but I have a whirlwind finish with Salento, Medellin, Cartagena and Mexico City.

7 thoughts on “Big Bogotá

  1. I would be completely confused and amazed by that money.
    You have been to wonderful, interesting places again. And what a world of flavors.
    Frederico Botero,one of my favory artist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Money is always the fun part when a bottle of water can be 2000!
      I keep a little chart in my wallet to what each bill is in Canadian $. And have a conversion app on my phone.


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