Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Popayan, Colombia

Popayan, Colombia is known as "the White City" because the small colonial town is famous for its chalk-white facades. It is the second most impressive colonial settlement after Cartagena which is locate in North Colombia by Caribbean Sea.

The town was founded in 1537 by Sebastian de Belalcazar and Popayan became the most important stopping point on the road between Cartagena and Quito, Ecuador. The mild weather attracts to most wealthy families from the sugar haciendas of the hot Cali region. In the 17th century, the town began to building new schools, mansions, churches and monasteries.

The city is famous for its celebration Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebration which it takes place at nightime on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday where the tourists visit from around the world to see the religious festival.

The Iglesia de San Francisco is the city's largest colonial church and it's very beautiful inside. I couldn't see the inside of the church because it was closed that time. The church has  five story high bell tower and the outdoor domes.

Other colonial church is Iglesia de Santo Domingo in Popayan.

 Capilla de Belene, a chapel sit on a hill that gives a full 180 view of Popayan. 

Museo Arquidiocesano de Arte Religioso has good collection of religious art including paintings, statues, altar pieces, silverware and sculptures which dated from 17th to 19th centuries. The museum has two floors with each rooms filled with different collection of religious art. It has a beautiful courtyard in the center of the building where people can relaxing while they looking at the art pieces display on the wall. I would recommend everyone to take look at it because it gives you an inspiration from 17th to 19th centuries artworks.

Modern Museum of Art contains amazing pieces of modern artwork from Eduardo Ramirez Villamizar, Enrique Castro, Alfredo Lleras, Edgar Negret Duenas, Jesus Soto, etc. You can Google their artwork on Google by just type their names in the text-box.

In 1713, Puente de la Custodia was often called Puente Chiquita (Little Bridge) which located just north of the historic center. The bridge allow priests to cross the river to bring the holy orders to the sick of this poor northern suburb. About 160 years later, another Puente del Humilladero bridge was built alongside the old bridge and still in use today. It has solid 240 m long with 11 arches.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bogota, Colombia

Bogota is the third highest capital in South America and the city itself sits at altitude of about 8,500 feet high. When I first arrived to Bogota and I was dizzy because the air was so thin. I suggest everyone to take easy for a day or two days until your body gets used to the thin air. It is very cold because the city sits at high altitude and surrounding by beautiful mountains. Bogota has about 1,000 neighbors in the city and each neighbors shows variety of people. Bogota is still slowly recovering from bad drugs and street crime and developing new projects such as train stations and bus station. There are two different parts of Bogota are north and south. The North Bogota consider safe because it is well maintained for wealthy people and clean. The South Bogota consider not safe because it is a different scene from north to south. It is not safe in some areas unless you know what you want to do. I suggests everyone to take taxi at night not the one on the street for your safety. You have to call the company to give them the specific streets or address for taxi drivers to pick you up. That's what I was suggested by citizens of Bogota. Overall, Bogota is a beautiful city to travel.

Everyone should check out at Plaza De Bolivar because it was the first public monument built in the city. The square has different styles of architecture buildings. Each design varies from the most recent to Spanish era. 

The Catedral Primada was founded in 1538 and considered the largest church in Bogota. The neoclassical style was shown on exterior structures of church. The church was damaged due to earthquake, riots and poor foundations. The interiors of church have a huge space for circulation but it has a little ornamentation details on wall to ceiling.

Iglesia Museo de Santa Clara is one of Bogota's most richly decorated churches. It was built in 1629 and 1674 and still runs by government. The structure features a barrel vault coated in golden floral motifs looking down over walls entirely covered in paintings and statues of saints. I couldn't take a picture of interiors structure due to mass in the church. It's very stunning and beautiful!

The Capitolio Nacional was built by English architect Thomas Reed in 1847. The style is neoclassical and still use for seat of Congress but the political has impact the process of the construction work until 1926. 

Museo Botero is an excellent museum for people who have an interests to look at famous artist of Fernando Botero work. He have done many different variety of sculptures, paintings and drawings. The museum have two floors filled most of his work like chubby hands, oranges, women, children, birds, etc on paintings. I recommends everyone to go and look at it because it helps you to understand how his works involves with a different compositions and materials that he used on paintings and drawings.

Museo Del Oro is a famous gold museum because the exhibition shows different varieties of gold like necklaces, crowns, sculptures, earrings and bracelets. The museum contains more than 55,000 different pieces of gold and other materials from pre Hispanic cultures in Colombia. It shown how the pieces were used for, how women of the Zenu in the pre-Columbian played more important roles in worship and how gold was used in rituals. The museum have three floors filled with different stories of each regions and understand about their culture by how people used for beauty and rituals. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Armenia, Colombia

Armenia was devastated by earthquake in 1999 that caused lot of architecture damages in the city center. Armenia has never recovered much since 1999 because of economic and social impacts on people. And, the soil in the ground was rated very poorly for to rebuilt new homes unless if there is a reinforced masonry or concrete for wall construction to built and prevent another casualties like one in 1999. The city was founded in 1889 and it became the capital of newly created Qundio department in 1966. The three smaller neighbors are Armenia, Pereira and Manizales are refers as a Zona Cafetera triangle that produces a coffee.

Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion is made of prefab concrete slabs shown from the exteriors structure to interiors structure. The photo shown that the letter A shape appears inside the space to make the church looks smaller and provide a limit circulation for people who attend the church. It is the new city's concrete cathedral. 

Armenia is an ideal for visitors who wants to spent a day trip because everything is small and easily accessible for bus changes to Salento which takes about 45 minutes ride.

Salento, Colombia

Salento is a small town with population of 3,500 with elev. of  6,234 feet. It located 15 miles east of Armenia where it has a beautiful scenery filled with a famous known of Colombia's national tree called palma de cera (wax palm). It is the largest palm in the world about up to 200 feet tall. Salento is surrounding with coffee farming, production and tourists who comes from all over the world to see the beautiful architecture and Valle De Cocora. The city was founded in 1850 and is one of the oldest town in Quindio. Quindio is a county in Colombia which is very similar to idea of New York county. 


Valle De Corcora is 30 mintues drive from Salento where it has the most beautiful landscape filled with wax palm trees. It is 5 1/2 hours walk from Cocora road to see Valle De Corcora through jungles on rugged road. 

I would recommend everyone to bring a water with food along with you because you will never know what is going to happen in the jungles if you get lost. It is better to go with someone and it is difficult to determine which way to go because the directions and maps of location are not clear or missing. It is safe to travel there. It is the most spectacular scenery in Colombia. Go Early!