Bogotá is a city of contrasts. From its founding in 1538 until today, it has been growing steadily and shaping its identity. Bogotá was a typical colonial city in the beginning, but around the turn of the 20th Century, other European tendencies began to replace the dominant Spanish influence. France's influence is evident in many of the palaces built during this period. Residential areas show English influence in houses built during the mid-20th Century. And finally, one can feel the United States' influence in the new skyscrapers and huge shopping centers built toward the end of the 20th Century. The best way to experience this vast variety of architectures is by visiting Bogota's distinct districts, which retain their rich individual characters. Immerse yourself in the city's culture, entertainment and varied cuisine.
Barrio La Candelaria
This, Bogotá's oldest district and its historical center, dates back to the city's foundation. Keep your eyes open as you walk these streets as points of interest abound. The district is located between Calle 7 and Avenida Jimenez de Quesada, and between Carreras 1 and 15, and it is comprised of two distinct zones, easily distinguishable by their location and style. The residential sector lies toward the eastern hills. It is famous for its colonial houses with their wooden balconies and clay tile roofs. The once white walls are now painted in bright colors more in keeping with the spirit of the city. This area contains many places worth visiting, including Casa de Poesía Silva , the Palacio de San Carlos , the Casa del Marques de San Jorge , the Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango , the Teatro Colón , and the churches La Candelaria , San Ignacio and Nuestra Señora del Carmen .
West of Carrera 7, you will find the Plaza de Bolívar , with the Capitolio Nacional and the Edificio Lievano , built during the Republic, as well as the Palacio de Justicia , the Museo 20 de Julio , the Catedral Primada , the Capilla del Sagrario and the Palacio Arzobispal . A few steps toward the south, you will come across Palacio Echeverry , and Palacio de Nariño , the presidential residence.
Nueva Santa Fe, part of a project to revive the city center, lies to the south of La Candelaria. The new neighborhood is a perfect example of late-20th-century architecture in Bogotá. Nearby, you will see the impressive Archivo General de la Nación . Toward the north end of La Candelaria, very near the intersection of Avenida Jimenez de Quesada and Carrera 7, you will find another collection of interesting sites, such as the Palacio de San Francisco and the churches of La Tercera , La Veracruz and San Francisco . Other places of interest include the Plaza de Santander , the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) and the Universidad del Rosario, on the square of the same name.
The area surrounding the Hotel Tequendama is known as the Centro Internacional. Many worthwhile sites lie close by. The International Center is an important shopping and trading area full of interesting buildings and entertainment. Opposite the hotel is the church of San Diego . Slightly further north, you'll find the Torre Colpatria , and towards the east lies the Museo de Arte Moderno and the Biblioteca Nacional . Across from these two buildings to the north is the Parque de la Independencia, which in turn adjoins the Planetarium and the Plaza de Toros La Santamaría (bullring). Highlights in the north end of this area include the Museo Nacional and the Parque Central Bavaria, a wonderful example of the modern architecture of Bogotá. Behind the hotel, you will find the Centro de Convenciones Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada (convention center).
Characterized by its many parks and open green spaces, this is the best area for sports and relaxation in the west end of Bogotá. Come to walk, run or just sit. Features of the district include the Unidad Deportiva El Salitre, the Jardín Botánico (botanical garden), Salitre Magico amusement park , Palacio de los Deportes, Museo de los Niños (children's museum) and Parque Simón Bolívar , the largest green space in the city. Toward the southwest, you will find Maloka , an interactive science center, and Ciudad Salitre, one of the most successful town-planning projects in Bogotá.
Also known as Calle 72, this is one of the most important business sectors in Bogotá. Perhaps the most interesting place in the area is the Granahorrar shopping center, right next to La Porciúncula church. This area is full of all different types of restaurants. Further north you will come across the Colegio Gimnasio Moderno, a school famous for its beautiful installations and for having educated several important national politicians.
This area between Calles 60 and 70 and between Avenida Caracas and Carrera 7 was one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Bogotá in the mid-20th Century. Although it has gradually lost its prestige over the years, it is now an important shopping area. You will also find interesting buildings here, including the Neo-Gothic church Nuestra Señora de Lourdes and the Teatro Libre .
On Avenida Ciudad de Quito, between Calles 53 and 63, lies the important sports and entertainment area of El Campín. Football (known in the United States as soccer) games are held regularly in the Estadio El Campín . Circuses and amusement parks visit the surrounding area frequently.
Recently converted into the largest pedestrian-only zone in Bogotá, this area between Calles 72 and 100 has become one of the most important commercial districts in the north of the city. Along the length of the street you will find important cafes, restaurants and shops. Have a look at the Mercado de las Flores (flower market) in the Parque El Virrey, just off Calle 87. Carrera 15 is also one of the most popular places to go out at night in Bogotá.
La Zona Rosa
This area is particularly famous for its restaurants and discotheques. The nightlife here is perhaps the liveliest in Bogotá. During the day, people come to shop, and at night they come to eat, dance and have fun. Into its small area, La Zona Rosa packs bars, restaurants and clubs that cater to every taste and every rhythm.
This route through the city's east hills has one of the widest assortments of restaurants and discotheques in Bogotá. The area offers spectacular views of the city both by day and by night. On the weekends, the Vía de La Calera attracts and challenges many cyclists, who ride up and down one of the steepest streets in the city.
Parque de la 93
Since its beautification, the area around this park has become one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Bogotá. The area is characterized by its wide range of international restaurants, many of which have terraces overlooking the park. This is an ideal place for a gastronomic tour of the five continents.
Bogotá is the geographical, political, cultural and financial center of the country. Colombians from all over the country live in the capital, bringing with them their customs, cultural expressions and traditional cuisine. There are many places in Bogotá where you can try delicacies from every region in the country, as well as many international restaurants from every country you can imagine. Whatever your tastes, there's an establishment somewhere in the city to satisfy them. There are restaurants in every corner of the city; however, many of the best restaurants center around the following hubs.
La Candelaria & Centro Internacional
La Candelaria is an area of the city center whose streets, churches and facades have witnessed three hundred years of history. The area has many fine examples of colonial architecture. Many restaurants are located in spacious houses built around beautiful patios. The most popular places here include Cafe de L'Avenir , Andante Ma Non Troppo , and Los Últimos Virreyes . Restaurante La Romana serves up Italian cuisine along with selling its dried pasta and other specialties for guests to take home. Habakkuk Burritos offers an interesting twist on something familiar with its Mexican/Asian fusion cuisine, along with the more basic, plain Mexican dishes.
In the exclusive Chapinero district, visitors will find a nice variety of upscale, delicious cuisine. For mouth-watering seafood, Restaurante Le Poivre serves it up, French style, with the ambiance to go with it. Close to the presidential residence is El Gabinete is a comfortable restaurant for all kinds of weather, with its cozy fireplace and outdoor patio for sunny days. The well known Pozzeto features traditional Italian dishes and live piano music on the weekends. Desayunadero de la 42 is open around the clock and specializes in northern Colombian cuisine, which includes plenty of roasted meats.
La Zona Rosa
The Zona Rosa lies in the north of the city, near the Andino shopping center between Calles 80 and 86, and Carreras 8 and 11. This is one of the main shopping areas in Bogotá, and the international array of cafes, restaurants, bars and discotheques here will appeal to all gastronomic tastes. There are typical Colombian restaurants such as Casa Vieja , and North American-style places such as Friday's and Tony Roma's. If you fancy seafood, try La Bodega Marina . For Mexican, try La Taquería or Harry's Cantina . And for Mediterranean, visit Niko Cafe . Some of these places function as eateries by day but at night turn into bars where you can dance and have a drink. Most establishments are open all week, but they tend to be livelier Thursday through Sunday.
El Parque de la 93
The area around Parque de la 93 is considered the most exclusive neighborhood in the north of the city. Cafes, bars, nightclubs, hotels and international restaurants surround the park. Most of the restaurants here have terraces with park views. The range of restaurants and international cuisines here should satisfy anyone. For a light snack or meal, try one of the many cafes, such as Crepes & Waffles . Hatsuhana and Kyoto Oriental Groceries serve such Eastern delicacies as sushi, teppanyaki and nabemono. Pesquera Jaramillo and El Buque serve fresh fish and seafood. For a taste of Spain, try Pajares Salinas .