A guide to discovering Medellín
We all know that good weather influences the character of people, and at the same time it is the people who give identity to a place. Maybe that’s the reason why the travelers who come to Medellin decided to stay here for longer that we thought.
Here, in the Aburrá Valley is where the city of Eternal Spring rests.
Surrounded by mountains, this paisa city offers us the opportunity to begin our visit by hiking to one of its slopes from where we can reach a privileged view, which allows us to distinguish with amazing clarity each stratum that composes it, and thus locate the places that we are about to explore. The Picacho hill escapes from the tourist avalanches and at an altitude of 2300 meters approximately it reveals the neighborhoods where the history of Medellín continues to be forged.
And history it is, despite what many may think, the chaos and panic in which the drug cartels submerged in the 80s a whole population, putting in check the stability of Colombia and unfortunately, taking along thousands of innocent lives. Today, we have the opportunity to learn more about the life and acts of the one who some dare to call the “RobinHood of the people”, Pablo Escobar. And although there are always many points of view, who can really convey in detail the scars that this time frame in their lives, is who really lived in it. The company Medellin City Services works with local guides to make the traveler feel every fact and history that roams the corners of Medellín. Manuel Garcés, one of the guides, showed us a large part of the city, transporting us through his stories to the heart of an unreal adventure
But that is only a small part of a city that because of the impulse of social and cultural projects, and mainly the will of its people, welcomes every day visitors from all over the world, covering an offer that does not leave anyone dissatisfied.
For those who enjoy the crowds and also for those who do not, as it a must see, from early in the morning the central streets are a hotbed in continuous movement, where the vendors occupy squares and sidewalks, alleys and passageways, crying out the great virtues of their products. Every day, at that moment Medellín becomes a disproportionate bazaar, an intense experience where the passer-by feels immersed in a scenography rehearsed down to the smallest detail. While some merchants find in repetition the most direct method of selling, others try to create a catchy slogan. There are those who among so much voices, so much competition and so much swing and bustle, decided to turn on an amplifier so that their voice runs like wildfire among the crowd. Anything that one needs is here.
Among all this commercial pulse we find many places to visit, such as the Bolivar Park at the gates of the Metropolitan Basilica Cathedral, the Lido Theater, the emblematic Coltejer building, the Berría Park, the Museum of Antioquia or the Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture located in front of the Plaza Botero which hold within 23 voluminous and unmistakable sculptures of maybe the most known Antioquia artist, Fernando Botero.
And although after what we have just said it may sounds impossible, there is a small oasis of calm and tranquility in the city. A garden of low houses and spacious rooms located around a pool make the Hotel Premium Real the best choice to leave aside the hustle and bustle of a metropolis without having to leave it. Without giving up the pleasure of rest.
As we mentioned, Medellín is immersed in a continuous development and a visible social inclusion in many places. An example of this is La Comuna 13, also known as the Independence neighborhood. It had its origin in the slopes of this mountain with the peaceful occupation of 60 people, but since the end of the 70s it became a hotbed of violence, which eventually ended up aggregating drug traffickers, guerrillas, paramilitaries, police and army. Fortunately, for a few years it has been involved in a tremendous educational and cultural change, fostered and driven mainly by its inhabitants, and for a set of escalators that divided into 6 sections transport us up the hill between what really could be, a colorful art gallery expositions.
The construction of metro lines and mainly metro-cable, make this the only city in Colombia equipped with such facilities, which, despite having been created with the aim of giving access to people living in the communes and neighborhoods with more difficult access, they have also become one of the main means of transport and tourist attraction for travelers. In each metro station we can find a public library that everyone can enjoy. A nice initiative that through reading, also allows us to travel.
To complete stimulating the senses and keep with us the best taste of our visit, we all have to visit the Nutibara Hill. This rises up to 80 meters, recreating in its central a small paisa village that has a charm a hundred times its size. In the same small square and surrounded by stunning views, we find the best flavor of traditional Paisa cuisine at La Fonda del Pueblo Restaurant. Sitting on one of its balconies and tasting the best tradicinal food while contemplating the city below as the sun sets behind the mountains make of it the best place to say goodbye to such a wonderful city.
Advice & Suggestions:
- With the metro ticket you can also take the metro-cable, except for the cable that leads to Arvi.
- Make a stop in the Malaga lounge: a bohemian air cafe and uninhibited and free social gathering, where tango plays an important role.
- A taxi ride of about 15-20 minutes usually costs about 10,000 pesos colombianos (3 euros).
- The Museum of Modern Art of Medellín is free of charge on Fridays from 18:00 to 21:00 hours.
- Recommended to visit the Memorial House Museum: dedicated to the conflict that has surrounded every corner of the city for years.
- The Palace of Culture Rafael Uribe Uribe offers exhibitions, movies and theater daily.
- Nutibara hill can be accessed by taxi, walking, own car or bicycle. The price of the taxi from the city center is around 10,000 COP. The public parking closes at 23:00 and costs 3.500 COP per hour. On the way to the hill we passed through the park of the sculptures. Next to the Pueblito we also find the City Museum.
- For those who need to change money there are several points in the city, such as the Camino Real Shopping Center, or next to it and normally with the best exchange rate, the Araucaria Building, located on the second floor of Avenida la Orienta 25 -52.
- The best place to buy fruit and vegetables is Jose María Villa Retail Plaza. For purchases of all kinds of food look for supermarkets D1.
- To get to the Picacho hill you can either walk for a while, get a taxi or take a bus in the bus north transport terminal, direction San Pedro de los Milagros.
- As in almost any city, it is advisable that at night we avoid walking through some areas or central streets.
- In Medellín there are two airports, Olaya Herrera, for domestic flights, and José María Córdova International Airport, located in Rio Negro. From here it takes an hour by bus or about 40 minutes by taxi to Medellín. The taxi fare is around 20 $ 65000
- There are two land transport terminals, the North Terminal, where you can access by metro, and the South Terminal, next to Olaya Herrera Airport.