The obvious highlight of Plaza de Bolivar is Catedral Primada. The largest of Bogota's churches has a storied past of destruction be it by poor construction or earthquake but what stands today dates only back to 1807. That said, it does give an idea of what the square would have looked like before its more modern additions. The neoclassical facade is impressive but belies a relatively austere if beguiling interior. Don't come expecting a museum piece church. This is South America and churches are very much still in use. Masses are very regular and people praying non-stop. The adjacent Capilla del Sagrario has much to see within but has unusual and somewhat confusing opening hours so we never made it inside.
Plaza De Bolivar is the hub of sightseeing in Bogota and is likely your first port of call. Though not the most beautiful square in South America or even Colombia for that matter, it does have its charms especially during the Christmas season when a large somewhat hideously colorful plastic Christmas tree is erected. The saving grace of this monument is the people's obvious affection for it which renders it a somehow touching Christmas ornament. Unfortunately, many of the Colonial buildings that one lined the square have been replaced by a hodgepodge of various styles which do not altogether mesh together. That said, the square like the city reflects Colombia well: a place full of traditions and old world ways but also very much reaching for the future and placing itself very much in the modern world.
The Bolívar Square (Spanish: Plaza de Bolívar) is located in the heart of the historical area of Bogotá. It has a statue of Simón Bolívar sculpted in 1846 by the Italian Pietro Tenerani, which was the first ever public monument in the city. On the Southern side of the square is the Palace of Justice, you are not permitted to enter the building. The Palace of Justice Siege took place on in 1985 when the building was taken over by the guerrilla movement M-19. They held the Supreme Court hostage, after a military raid which left 25 Supreme court justices dead and 12 rebels, they released 200 hostages. Now under heavy armed presence it it not permitted to enter the building. Security guards are everywhere. The Square is also surrounded by other government buildings and the Presidents house. Sunday's is a day where you will find Colombians gathered around the square. People trying to sell you food, flowers or rides on donkeys. Its a great place to people watch.
I was amazed by the Plaza de Bolívar because the Cathedral offered a great backdrop to it and it the plaza grounds itself is huge…you can see the first public monument of the city – a statue of Simón Bolívar sculpted in 1846 by the Italian Pietro Tenerani.
Why called Bolivar? Simple. Because every main square is called Plaza Bolívar in every city or town of Venezuela (closely linked to Colombia in the past), the native country of Simón Bolívar.
You can see on the north the Palace of Justice where the Supreme Court works. Opposite on the south is the National Capitol, the seat of the Colombian Congress. On the west side of the square there is a French style building of the Mayor - Liévano building. The amazing Primate Cathedral on the east side was built between 1807 and 1823, and near the 17th century Holy Chapel.
Also see the Vase House, now also known as the Museum of the 20th July, in which occurred the Call for Independence on July 20, 1810 and also the Mayor School of San Bartolomé.
Truly a great place to people-watch and see how Bogotenos love heir families and bring them here for a nice stroll. You also get great pictures!
Catedral Primada de Bogotá (the Cathedral) stands on the east side of Plaza de Bolívar. It was built between 1807 and 1823, and its facade was restored in 1943 (by Spanish architect Alfredo Rodríguez Orgaz). Some say that the Cathedral stands in the same spot as the first church of Bogotá from 1538, where the first mass, following the foundation of Bogotá, took place.
Inside, there are paintings and carvings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, the tomb of Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada (the founder of Bogotá) and one of the biggest organs in all of Latin America. The elegance of its neoclassical style can be appreciated in its high altar and the choir loft and pews, which date back to the 17th century.
Edificio Liévano (Liévano building) occupies the whole western side of Plaza de Boliívar. The site was formerly took up by the Arrubla Galleries, which were burned to the ground in 1900. Present building is a wonderful example of the early 20th century Bogotano architecture, designed by the French architect Gaston Lelarge. It's a three floor complex in the French neoclassical style crowned at the corners by two large attics. The building was completed in 1905.
Today this beautifully constructed building serves as a working place of the Mayor of Bogotá.
Plaza de Bolívar, located in the heart of the historical area, is not only an important symbol for the people of Bogotá but also a crowded meeting point popular with photographers, food vendors, street theatre groups and children running around hundreds of pigeons on the square. There are always loads of armed military men around.
Here are Colombia's most important institutions: Capitolio Nacional (National Capitol), the seat of the National Congress; a French style building known as Edificio Liévano (Liévano building), the seat of Bogota's Mayor; Palacio de Justicia (Palace of Justice) and the Catedral Primada (the Cathedral), in which lies the tomb of Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada, Bogota's founder. They are not open to the public (except the Cathedral). In the middle of the plaza is located a statue of Simón Bolívar made by the Italian sculptor Pietro Tenerani. Dating from 1846, it is the city's oldest public monument.
One of the buildings that suffered the most due to the troubles in Colombia during the 20th century was Palacio de Justicia. It's an enormous neoclassical structure, not particularly beautiful, where the Supreme Court works. It was built for the first time in 1921, but in April 1948 it was later burnt during the Bogotazo, the violent massive riots that followed the murder of Liberal leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán.
It was replaced by a modern palace on the north side of Plaza de Bolívar which was destroyed again in 1985. The building was taken over by the guerrilla movement M-19. The army tried to take control of the building but a fire destroyed the entire building. The construction of the current Palacio de Justicia only started in 1989.
On the southern side of Plaza de Bolívar stands a monumental building El Capitolio Nacional, the seat of the Colombian Congress. It was built with the help of several architects and engineers. The construction began in 1847 but due to the constant political changes that took place, the building was only finished in 1926.
It's a stone building in neoclassical style; it has two floors and four main rooms. Its distinctive facade was designed by the Danish architect Thomas Reed and comprises of 18 ionic columns at the center of the building.
While I can't say I am much for Christmas any more (bought the tree but did not decorate it or hang lights on the house). The City of Bogota can put just about anybody in the mood. Bolivar Plaza has a forest of plastic trees set up along with one large on in the middle and at night along with the surrounding buildings is all lit up. My pictures here may not do it justice....
It is almost magical wandering around the trees at night. Try and come a bit later when the locals has have taken the kids home to bed as between 7 and 9 most of them will be out taking family photos.
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