The third-largest city in Colombia, Cali is famous worldwide as the ‘Salsa Capital’. The place is known for its colorful streets, rich culture, indigenous cuisines, and cheerful and friendly people.

Every arterial street and vintage district in this modern urban sprawl has preserved an architectural past. Granada’s Bauhaus houses and San Antonio’s Republican façades are reminiscent of the “Golden Age” of Cali. Although various former households have now become art galleries and studios for local fashion designers, the central Cali offers a retro atmosphere.

From the popular Afro-Colombian heritage to contemporary art and historical architecture, here are ways an architecture-buff can discover Cali.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect
Image Sources: Overhead view of Cali; Source: Valentine Tull ©Flickr

1. Edificio Coltabaco

This emblematic building designed by Guillermo Garrido is a site of National Cultural Interest. An example of Renaissance architecture, the ornamental work displays Spanish and Arab influence. The 16 romantic balconies on its facade make you fall in love with the building’s aesthetic details.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect- Edificio Coltabaco -1
Photo of Edificio Coltabaco ©www.occidente.co
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect- Edificio Coltabaco -2
The facade of Coltabaco building ©www.orgullodecali.com
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect- Edificio Coltabaco -3
Front facade of the building; ©Sahaquiel9102 / CC BY-SA www.creativecommons.org

2. Iglesia Ermita Church

Characterized by its Neo-Gothic architectural style, the design of the Ermita Church is inspired by the Ulm Minster in Germany. The church stands on the ruins of a chapel destroyed in an earthquake. Its turquoise paint scheme, Dutch musical clocks and windows, French bells, Italian marble, and neo-gothic spires strike a sharp contrast with the modern neighborhood.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Iglesia Ermita Church -1
La Ermita Church ©www.imgund.com
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Iglesia Ermita Church -2
La Ermita Church ©C arango / Public domain
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Iglesia Ermita Church -3
The church at night ©www.cdn.colombia.com
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Iglesia Ermita Church -4
Vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows ©www.heneedsfood.com

3. Cristo Rey

Erected to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of a tragic war that led the country to depression, this statue can be seen from the four cardinal points of the city. Constructed out of iron and concrete, it was designed by the Italian artist Alideo Tazzioli. Carlos Andrés Gómez, an artist has sculpted fascinating images on the stones leading up to the top of the hill.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Cristo Rey -1
Statue of Cristo Rey © by Hector Mesa from Cali, Colombia
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Cristo Rey -2
Panoramic view of the city © www.freetourcali.co
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Cristo Rey -3
Work of Carlos Andrés Gómez ©www.freetourcali.co

4. La Tertulia Museum

The museum of art is a piece of art in itself. The avant-garde design of the external wing reminds us of the modern architecture that flourished in the 60s. The building houses exhibition rooms, an outdoor and an art-house theater, as well as a workshop.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-La Tertulia Museum -1
View of the museum at night ©www.cali.gov.co
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-La Tertulia Museum -2
La Tertulia Museum ©www.linalopez.org
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-La Tertulia Museum -3
Steps leading to amphitheatre ©www.museolatertulia.com

5. La Merced Archaeological Museum

Dating back to 1538-40, Cali’s oldest existing building, previously a convent now houses an archaeological museum boasting a collection of pre-Colombian pottery and a church.  Designed in the typical Spanish style, the stunning whitewashed exterior masks a simple wooden and stucco interior.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-La Merced Archaeological Museum -1
Iglesia La Merced © marplar / CC BY www.creativecommons.org
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-La Merced Archaeological Museum -2
Iglesia La Merced © www.recipeforadventures.com
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-La Merced Archaeological Museum -3
Place for gathering © Jesse Kraft EveEm- Getty Images

6. San Antonio Church

Dotted with old colonial houses and hipster shops and restaurants, the San Antonio neighborhood abounds in colors and artwork. The church constructed in 1747 sits atop a little hill, surrounded by a beautiful garden. The simple brick and whitewashed facade, and the baroque altar of the church have become synonymous with the cultural identity of the city. The cobbled steps of the church provide panoramic views of the sprawling city below.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-San Antonio Church -1
San Antonio church © www.trip101.com
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-San Antonio Church -2
San Antonio neighborhood ©EvaVerheugt via Polarsteps
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-San Antonio Church -3
View from the hilltop ©Ian Neubauer via BBC

7. San Francisco Complex

This huge complex houses The Chapel of Immaculate, the Mudéjar bell tower, the church of San Francisco, the convent of San Joaquín, and a museum of religious art.

The impressive mixture of architectural styles from the beautiful pale green facade of the chapel alongside the Hispano Arabic style of the tower to the Neo-classical architecture of the Church gives this religious complex great architectural value.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-San Francisco Complex -1
San Francisco Church © www.nomadicmatt.com
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-San Francisco Complex -2
Inside the Church of San Francisco © www.recipeforadventures.com
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-San Francisco Complex -3
Front facade of San Francisco church © www.creativecommons.org
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-San Francisco Complex -4
The chapel and the bell tower © www.recipeforadventures.com

8. Hacienda Paraíso

The house Hacienda Paraiso meaning ‘Paradise’ is true to its name. This lovingly restored mansion is a fine example of passive cooling practices and landscaping. Surrounded by sugarcane plantations, this house provides us a glimpse into how the Colombian elites lived in the 19th century.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Hacienda Paraiso -1
Front facade of the house ©www.res.cloudinary.com
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Hacienda Paraiso -2
Hall of the treasury ©www.commons.wikimedia.org
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Hacienda Paraiso -3
Hacienda El Paraíso ©Bernardo Peña / El País

9. Municipal Theatre

Constructed in 1917, the design of the theatre is influenced by Creole Classicism. The richly decorated interior, the finely painted ceiling, elaborate figures on the sills of the boxes, famous paintings, eloquent lighting, and the perfect acoustics of the place, together harmoniously provoke an intimate idyll.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Muncipal Theater -1
Front facade of Teatro Municipal © www.hotelescalivalledelcauca.com
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Muncipal Theater -2
View from the stage © www.teatro municipal.gov.co
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Muncipal Theater -3
View of the stage © www.teatro municipal.gov.co

10. The Cañasgordas Estate

This place was once considered one of the largest estates in Southwest Colombia and, due to its archaeological, architectural, and cultural value, has been restored and declared a National Monument. Despite the urbanization of the neighborhood, the place retains a tranquil character.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-The Canasgordas Estate -1
Hacienda Cañasgordas ©Blu Radio
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-The Canasgordas Estate -2
Spanish colonial architecture ©Blu Radio
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-The Canasgordas Estate -3
Spanish colonial architecture ©Blu Radio

11. Cali Cultural Centre

Designed by the famous Colombian architect, Rogelio Salmona, the Cali Cultural Centre is a piece of modern architecture designed to show an intelligent mix of Mudejar citadels and medieval castles. The brick building incorporates Hispanic concepts such as the eaves for protecting the passers-by from the sun, the second-floor balconies, and the inland open spaces, for gatherings. This colossal building has been awarded the National Architecture Prize.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Cali Cultural Center -1
Open space for Cultural activities ©C arango / Public domain
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Cali Cultural Center -2
Sidewalks protected from the sun ©www.elpais.com.co
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Cali Cultural Center -3
Play of light and shadow ©www.cali-doscopio.blogspot.com
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Cali Cultural Center -4
The Entrance of the Cultural Center ©www.orgullodecali.com

12. Jorge Isaacs Theater

This beautiful theatre built in French Neo-classical style has a sumptuous facade of capitals and neoclassical garlands. Belonging to an era of splendor and art deco, it hosts a variety of events, including ballet, opera, and classical music.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Jorge Isaacs Theater -1
Jorge Isaacs Theatre ©www.calitheater.blogspot.com
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Jorge Isaacs Theater -2
Corner façade ©Historical Center Guide via Flickr
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Jorge Isaacs Theater -3
Neo-classical details of the building ©Martinduquea / CC BY-SA

13. National Palace

The Neoclassical structure designed by Belgian architect Joseph Martens, houses the Administrative Court, the Cali High Court, as well as a small museum dedicated to the regional production of sugarcane. Its ornate chalk-white façade capped with a slate-grey roof and dome strikes visitors’ attention.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-National Palace -1
The National Palace of Cali ©KANDU / CC BY-SA www.creativecommons.org
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-National Palace -2
Neoclassical details ©Martinduquea / CC BY-SA www.creativecommons.org
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-National Palace -3
National Palace and Courthouse in Cali ©www.southamericanpostcard.com

14. Cathedral of St. Peter The Apostle

Also called the Metropolitan Cathedral, it is one of the National Monuments of the country. Designed by Antonio García, it is constructed in Baroque style and after sustaining two earthquakes some elements were rebuilt under Neo-classical standards.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Cathedral of St.Peter the Apostle -1
Front facade of the cathedral ©By Quien responde por Cali – www.commons.wikimedia.org
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Cathedral of St.Peter the Apostle -2
The first public clock in Cali ©Remux / CC BY-SA www.creativecommons.org
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Cathedral of St.Peter the Apostle -3
The cathedral at night ©DJ Samuray via Twitter

15. Bulevar The Rio

A fine example of urban space, the Boulevard received the Colombian Architecture Biennial award for the best urban design and landscaping in the country. This pedestrian-friendly boulevard runs along the river Cali and is seated above the longest urban tunnel in Colombia. This project has introduced a dynamic platform to the city, where all kinds of physical and cultural recreational activities take place.

Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Bulevar the Rio -1
Proximity to tourist places ©www.revistaepocas.co
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Bulevar the Rio -2
Rio Cali Boulevard © Jorge Bela Kindelan ©www.revistaepocas.co
Places to visit in Cali for the Travelling Architect-Bulevar the Rio -3
Street furniture ©www.ahoyviajes.com
Author

Idea girl & strong-minded, Kiran is an architecture enthusiast & sucker for words. When not reading, she can be found gorging movies & sitcom.

Write A Comment