Bogotá is a central hub for travel and the jumping off point for many destinations around Colombia. Located in the heart of the Andean mountain range, the city offers plenty of attractions for the curious traveler. Here are four of the best attractions that Bogotá has to offer.
Rising 3,152 meters above sea level, this mountain and church dominate the view on the eastern side of Bogotá. The church contains a shrine dedicated to “El Senor Caido” (or The Fallen Lord), a majestic wood carving of Christ created by Pedro de Lugo Albarracin, which once drew religious pilgrims from around the world. Travelers can reach the summit of the mountain by walking (the way of pilgrims), or by catching a cable car or train. In addition to touring the church and shrine, visitors can also enjoy restaurants, souvenir shops, and other small tourist facilities. The top of Monserrate offers unparalleled views of the city and surrounding vistas, making it a perfect site for photographers to capture the beauty of Bogotá.
For the eco-tourist, a trip to The José Celestino Mutis Botanical Garden should top the list of attractions to visit. The garden was founded in 1955 and is an important part of the preservation of many plant species, with labs dedicated to studying and protecting Colombia’s plants and flowers. The botanical garden is a showcase of some rare gems, particularly flowers from the Andes and the Amazon. You can find plant species from almost every climate and region, including the famous paramo ecosystem. The garden offer 73 varieties of roses, herb gardens, examples of different forests and moorlands, and a variety greenhouses to enjoy. Stroll along the manicured pathways and water features, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Colombia’s unique flora.
Simón Bolívar Park is very much the “Central Park” of Bogotá, and an important hub of activity for residents and tourists alike. It is sometimes called the “lung” of the city because it offers a respite and vital green space in the middle of a sprawling urban metropolis. Its massive 970 acres is home to a variety of unique features, both natural and manmade, including a 27 acre lake, and 18 km of walking trails. It’s also the location for many major events in Bogotá, including the start of the Ibero-American Theater Festival, and hundreds of concerts each year from performers like Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Other unique features within the park include a library, a children’s museum, amusement rides, an aquatic center, and several sports complexes, including 53 acres of soccer fields!
This beautiful and unusual cathedral is inside of a massive salt deposit, originally discovered and used by the indigenous Muisca people. Miners carved the first sanctuary in the mines as a place to offer their daily prayers, and it was formally built into a cathedral in 1954. Descending 200 meters underground, the cathedral is a working church, with thousands of Catholics attending services on Sundays. This wonder of salt and light is also one of Colombia’s top tourist destinations, with 13 million visitors each year. It was declared the first wonder of Colombia on February 4th, 2007. The carved tunnels are softly, but colorfully illuminated, and the church contains three separate naves, depicting the birth and baptism of Christ, as well as the crucifixion and resurrection, each with its own altar. Activities include a variety of tours, and visitors can even experience the life of a miner and learn how salt is processed. The Salt Cathedral is in the quaint town of Zipaquira, only 25 miles from the center of Bogota.
Many tours begin and end in Bogota, offering the opportunity to check out these attractions and more! Colombia is waiting.