Colombia’s capital Bogota is the most vibrant, multifunctional, and cosmopolitan city that offers very unique experiences to its visitors. The city converges diverse people, culture, art, and architecture offering high contrasts between the old and the new, peaceful and frantic. This gets reflected in its architecture from having multi-use neighborhoods, commercial city centers, creative districts, etc. The city’s cultural district La Candelaria, a cobbled historic downtown has a potpourri of conserved colonial heritage buildings like restaurants, museums, bars, churches, etc. The Cerro de Monserrate offers unparalleled views over the city, particularly at sunset. Bogota boasts its contemporary architecture done by internationally acclaimed architects like Steven Holl, Daniel Bonilla, etc, and local architects like Aníbal Moreno, Rogelio Salmona, etc. A great way to begin the tour of the city is to start from its historic center La Candelaria’s Plaza Bolivar and explore the surrounding places and cultural vibes. All the other major tourist spots are very near to it.

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1. Plaza de Bolívar

The grand central square Plaza de Bolivar offers glimpses of the rich colonial architectural history of the place. At the center of the square is the vantage point dominated by the statue of Bolivar that offers great views to the surrounding historical buildings. It includes neo-classical buildings such as the Palace of Justice, National Capitol, and 19th-century colonial buildings like the Primary Cathedral of Bogota and the Lievano Palace around it.

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2. Santa Clara Museum

Santa Clara Museum, originally a church built in 1647 is a stunning example of Baroque architecture. The museum has rich ornate interiors having wood carvings embellished with gold, baroque altarpieces, oil paintings, bulky and polychrome images, mural painting and Mudejar lattices. etc. The exteriors with stone edifice and a large wooden door are deceptive to the stunning altarpiece with 13 different statues all set into niches with highly reflective gold leaf.

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3. Virgilio Barco Library

Designed by Rogelio Salmona and completed in 2003, this library resides in a circular brick structure surrounded by multiple bodies of water. 150,000 volumes, reference, and specialty rooms and an auditorium for 350 people are the main features it comprises. A system of ramps is developed as a spine of the whole library, connecting visitors and locals to the outside and inside of the building like a roller coaster ride.

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4. Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Centre

The center gets its name from Colombia’s most famous author to which it pays homage to. It features cozy spots to snuggle up a good book from 80,000 books it has or grab a coffee at the onsite cafe. The expansive center features an auditorium, temporary exhibition space and holds various cultural events.

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5. Iglesia de San Francisco

Built-in 1557, it is the oldest surviving church amongst all in Bogota. It was built in 1557 and since then, it has survived numerous earthquakes. The dark interiors highlight its gold embellishments decorating the U-shaped 17th Century altarpiece is a site to see from the extravagant pews. This church was dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. The Baroque style interiors of this church are very fascinating.

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6. Luis Ángel Arango Library

Designed by Colombian architect Rafael Esguerra, it opened as a small library in 1958 having few books on economics. Now it comprises more than 2,000,000 works of literature. The building is a form of contemporary architecture surrounded by colonial buildings of La Candelaria. One can experience a vast literature collection, art exhibitions, panoramic city views, and live music events here.

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7. National University

The city’s expansion developed a new geographical center which is National University. It offers an extensive view of Colombian architecture’s evolution. On a pedestrian tour, one can see buildings from 1940 to today. It has an Engineering School reflecting the Bauhaus movement, Architecture Museum, a design proposal for Steven Holl’s New Doctorate’s Building, etc.

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8. Agora Convention Centre

Designed by BermúdezArquitectos, Estudio Herreros, this 2017 completed project comprises 64,883 sq. of total area distributed over five floors, 18 meeting rooms, and with the main hall able to host 4,000 people. The principle of transparency and visibility surely makes this convention center a masterpiece. People attending the events feel as comfortable as possible in a corporate environment that harmonizes with spectacular mountains that surround Bogota.

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9. Avianca Building

Bogota’s skyline highlights a 161-meter-tall office skyscraper for Avianca Airlines was the first high rise built in the city. It’s a massive 37 storey building with 4 basements. The building is elegantly reflecting a pragmatic, pure geometric and a serene appearance.

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10. Bogotá Museum of Modern Art

Designed by famous architect Rogelio Salmona between 1971 and 1988, the Museum of Modern Art Bogota (MAMBO) is a perfect example of postmodern architecture in Colombia. The sleek four-storey building houses 20th Century modern art.

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11. Las Torres del Parque

Designed by famous architect Rogelio Salmona and completed in the year 1968, these three high rise buildings contrast the nature of low-rise buildings in the city. Built to create harmony between the city and the environment, the postmodern orange brick style buildings are home to apartments and gardens.

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12. BD Bacatá

Designed by architecture firm Groupo Alonso Balaguer, this first of its kind crowdfunded skyscraper is the tallest in Colombia and second tallest in South America. The glass, aluminum, and concrete structure is home to offices, retail spaces, apartments, and a hotel. The 66-storey building is financed by 3,800 private investors.

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13. Torre Colpatria

A 50-storey skyscraper built for Colpatira Bank Headquarters offers panoramic views from the top floor. The concrete façade pillars and vertical bars glazing unbroken from the ground to the roof gives a unique façade to the skyscraper.

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14. Museo del Oro

The museum displays the largest collection of gold artifacts in the world. It showcases an extraordinary selection of its pre-Hispanic gold work having pottery, stone, shell, archaeological objects, etc.

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15. Centro de Comercio Internacional

Designed by architects Cuéllar Serrano Gómez y Cía in 1970, this 50-storey skyscraper is a neighbor of the second-largest skyscraper in Colombia. It is home to Davivienda Bank. The exterior of the building showcases glass paneling and vertical lines of windows running on both lateral sides which gives it a unique look of the building.

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Author

Aayushi Sanghvi, a young architect who extensively believes in the potential of research to make informed design decisions. She considers intellectual design dialogues as the stepping stones towards cognisant architecture. She is flexible, quick learner and an avid traveller; learning about new culture, people, spaces and expanding her horizon every-day.

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