Last month we learned about the “Capital of Latin America,” Miami, which has a rich culture partly due to its varied demographics. One citizenry that has a noticeable presence in Miami is that of Colombia. So it is fitting that one of Miami’s sister cities is Bogota, Colombia, our next stop on this tour of our Small World.
Nestled up near the clouds, Bogota’s elevation is over 8,600 feet above sea level. Santafe (also Santa Fe) de Bogota, as the capital city was referred to briefly late in the 20th Century, is just one part of the capital district and the traditional downtown area. Bogota was originally called Santa Fe at the time of its founding in 1538 by Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada, a Spanish explorer and conquistador famous for the conquering of the Muisca Confederation. The Muiscas were comprised of two coalitions: the Hunzas in the north and the Bacata in the South. With less than 200 men, de Quesada took advantage of the warring tribes and conquered both.
Bogota is the largest city (by land area) in the conglomeration of countries known as Latin America, at over 600 square miles. Its geography is often referred to as savannah, or more specifically moorland. Moors are habitats of temperate grasslands found in upland areas characterized by low-growth vegetation and acidic soils. The land and climate make good venues for the production of crops such as coffee, bananas and tobacco. Some of the crops that were first cultivated in Colombia include tomatoes, avocadoes and guavas to name a few. Coca and marijuana also grow well here, and this has caused the United States to focus its “drug war” on this South American country in their attempts to control what comes into the U.S.
The city is divided into zones of which there are seven, and into localities (or neighborhoods) of which there are twenty. Zona 1 Norte is the most modern area with the highest income bracket, while Zona 4 Sur is the industrial zone that contains most of the barrios, commonly the lower income areas of housing. The Santa Fe district resides in the third locality of the Zona 1 Norte zone. This is commonly where tourists go, though the Zona 5 Centro is also popular due to its numerous cultural offerings. Bogota has amazing architecture which tourists are drawn to as well. Some of the most commonly visited churches include the San Agustin built in 1637 and the San Ignacio church which was inspired by the Church of San Jesus de Roma.
Bogota is home to numerous parks that allow for recreation in the capital including massive events, sometimes held at the Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park. At just under a thousand acres, the park has held concerts put on by legendary bands such as Metallica and Aerosmith, playing to crowds of close to 70,000 people. Due to recent accommodations and renovations for access, future such events are expected to top out at 100,000 fans. Numerous international artists have also played shows at El Campin, the city’s soccer stadium; this list includes James Brown, Guns n’ Roses and Paul McCartney to name a few. So while it is clear that Colombians love their American music, the city has a rich cultural tradition of its own as evidenced by both the Spanish influence on architecture and food, as well as the local traditions that give Bogota its unique and vibrant spirit.