I have visited Bogota three times in the last five years. I must always walk to the Plaza Bolivar and La Candelaria, the historic district. La Catedral is more impressive outside than inside, but the Plaza is glorious. Just up the street from the Cathedral is La Puerta Falsa (The Hidden Door) restaurant, where we can taste real Colombian food. La Candelaria is like any other large tourist attraction. There is some poverty, street crime, fake emeralds, pick pocketing, etc. Carry a color copy of your passport and leave your passport in the hotel safe. Eat some street food, get some sugar cane juice pressed as you watch, see the churches, the Museo d'Oro, then get a taxi to Usaquen for organic dinner and a hotel.
Plaza Bolivar is the political and historical center of Candelaria and of the whole city. It is a good place to watch people go by and observe the beautiful buildings around it. Some of the most important ones are here. The Capitolio to the south, the Palace of Justice on the northern side where the Supreme Court works, the imposing Catedral Primada and Capilla de Sagrario next to it on the east side and the Leviano building, a beautiful French style building which houses the Mayor's office on the west side. On the north east corner is the Museum where on the 20th of July 1810 the first Declaration of Indepence was made. The statue of Simon Bolivar (who else?) is the only thing built in the center.
A lot of action takes place on the square. Tourists, street vendors and locals spend their leisure time and occasionally musicians and street dancers perform here. Pigeons are frequent visitors searching for their favourite crumbs or the seeds for the typical pigeon-photo.
It was founded by Sebastian de Belalcazar in 1539 and has a glorious history as it was the setting for a lot of protests, demonstrations and national celebrations. In 1944 it was declared a National Monument.
This is the heart of the historical centre. The square is huge and in its centre there is the big bronze statue of Simon Bolivar made by the italian Pietro tenerani. On the northern side of the square there is the Justice palace whose history is interesting. Infact the first building that hosted the supreme court was in another area and it had been burned during by the citizens during the riots of Bogotazo in 1948. The new one was built in Pòaza Bolivar but in 1985 it was occupied by M-19 guerrilas and destroyed during the 28 hours of army's attack that had the porpouse to clear it. The new building has a total different architetural style.
I understand that all Colombian cities have a Plaza Bolivar, the main square of the city. There are a lot of sights to see in and around the plaza. It is also a great place to grab a cup of coffee and people watch.
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.