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Santa Fe de Bogotá

Santa Fe de Bogotá is Colombia’s capital city, and it’s also the entry point into the country for travelers coming from Europe. Its multiple attractions make it an appealing place to visit before arriving in Cartagena de Indias.

Today a city of close to 8 million inhabitants situated in the Andean highlands at 2,680 meters, the area comprising Santa Fe de Bogotá was once home to the Muisca people, of the Chibcha linguistic family. The Muiscas were organized into two federations and had a rich culture with belief systems and rituals based on the cycles of nature and the heavens; their ceremonies in Lake Guatavita are at the root of the Legend of El Dorado.  They cultivated the land, fished, mined precious stones and metals and engaged in barter, as well as the elaborate fashioning of practical, ceremonial and decorative objects in gold, fabric and ceramics.

The city of Santa Fe de Bogotá was founded in 1538, and over the following 300 years of colonial rule the city, now enshrined as the capital of the vice-kingdom of New Granada, became the seat of royal, ecclesiastical and military power for the region .

With the establishment of universities under the aegis of the Roman Catholic Church, many of which are still operating today, Bogotá became a center of culture and knowledge. Painting and sculpture flourished, giving rise to what’s known today as the santafereña (Santa Fe) School.  The Botanic Expedition of the New Kingdom of Granada, established in Bogotá to study native flora, contributed greatly to the knowledge of local plant species.

After gaining independence from Spain in 1819 Bogotá played a determining role in creating the political, economic and social conditions that gave rise to the Republic of Colombia.

By the 20th century Bogotá ‘s importance as a cultural capital was also established, and as the city became a modern metropolis it acquired all the attributes of a cosmopolitan capital city, including a dynamic cultural life of film, theater and dance, as well as word-class restaurants and a lively and diverse night-life.

Sites of interest to visitors:  The Gold Museum displays an impressive collection of pre-Hispanic art, mostly in the form of sculpted and cast gold pieces. The Museum of Colonial Art displays paintings and wood sculptures from the Santa Fe, Quito, Cuzco and Lima schools. The Botero Museum features work by the famed painter Fernando Botero, and features significant pieces from different periods of Botero’s oeuvre.  The Casa del Florero, where Colombia’s independence movement took root, is a fine example of Santa Fe-style colonial architecture.  The National Museum is also of great interest, as is one of the old centers of Bogotá, the Barrio de la Candelaria, which has many old buildings and churches of great historical value.

General Information:
Founded in 1538 by Don Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada
Altitude 2,600 meters, Latitude: 4° 35´ 53´´ N by Longitude 74° 4´ 33´´ W 
Population 8 million
14°C median annual temperature
Currency:  peso (1 USD = approximately 2,000 pesos)