Bogota Culture

Pre-Hispanic Bogota.

Culture in Bogota: the city has a new positive mindset directed at the future and the construction of a new city for everyone. A long time ago Bogota had a Muisca Culture. It is said that when the Spanish finally arrived on the altiplano of Bogota in 1537 Juan de Carlos an explorer, priest and soldier exclaimed:

“Good land, good land, land that ends our suffering!
Land of gold, fertile land, land for an everlasting house,
Land with an abundance of food, the land of great nations, flat land,
Land where people are dressed, and sometimes the grilled meat does not taste bad;
Blessed land, clear and serene land that ends our sorrows ”

This region was densely populated, not in cities but in small groups of houses in the green valley of the Savana of Bogota. There are many mysteries surrounding Muisca culture but gold-smithing and weaving were very important.

Many of the offering objects of the Muisca culture can be seen in the magnificent Museum of Gold that can help imagine how the culture was of the people living in the Sabana before the arrival of the Spanish.

When Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada arrived in Bogota he said “When it clears up we will go”. Because it kept raining they never leaved Bogota. Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada  founded the city in 1538. His remains are buried in the Cathedral of Bogota.

Visit The Gold Museum Online

Bogota the Athens of Latin America. 

Bogota the Athens of Latin America is a title that came in to swing at the end of the nineteenth city. Although it is unclear who used it first. Some say it was the geographer and explorer Humboldt, others an Argenitine writer who visited the city, and some say it was a humanist  from Madrid  at the end of  19th centrury who even never visited Bogota. The city was still small those days with less than 100.000 inhabitants but the elite had an important emergent local culture of poetry, architecture and science that seeked to closen its ties with  Europa. The continent that was then considered as the most advanced in the world.  In 1910 the world fair was held in Colombia that also celebrated the first century of independence, that wanted to show that Bogota was on the heights of European cities. At the same time Bogota was in a period caracterized by migration: many people from Europe migrated to Bogota, and maybe because of climate as well that is very similar to climate in many parts of Europe. In Bogota during the year there can be periods of winter and summer with rapid changes, with dark rainy days because of the altitude there are more shifts in weather types. But don’t worry there will always be somebody around that sell umbrellas.

Community Culture Bogota.

Bogota grew very vast in the past century from a small town to a city of more than 8 million inhabitants.Bogota is a city that also in the process of reinventing itself keep his its traditions. This is reflected in cafés, barbers and bakeries that already are in the business decades and to which the clients return. Or a restaurant that decades ago was opened by a family from a different region where people keep returning to remember the gastronomy of their region.

North and South.

There is a big difference between the north & south of Bogota. The south of Bogota is the poor side of the city. This is the part of the city where new pirate neighborhoods (with construction  without formal permission and without landownership) are being built on the hill side by people that newly arrive in the city. Often people working as an ambulant vendor on the street , cleaner or in construction live in the south and sometimes have to travel a long time to their work located far away from this peripherical neighborhoods. On the other hand in the central and western parts of the city the middle class prevails while in the north side of town is dominated by the higher incomes.

Creative Bogota.

After years of armed conflict finally peace has arrived. Bogota that had to endure bombings and frequent security checks in the nineties had the image of a dangerous city, caused by the trade in elicit drugs.  Now Bogota is opening its arms to visitors from all over the world, and has a new positive mindset directed at the future and the construction of a new city for everyone.

Also important are the many universities in the city. Many universities offer art studies. Many of which are in the centre in the Candelaria and others in other districts such as Chapinero and Teusaquillo offering their courses not only for Bogotan students but from all over the country looking for the best opportunities for their academic education.

Urban Art

Responsible Urban art is officially recognized by the Secretary of Culture, Recreation and Sports as a new  form of expression in the city. In recent years the city has promoted many events a involving both Colombian and international urban artists that give colour to Bogotan Streets. Bogota is considered to be the graffiti capital of Latin America. There are many galleries that show works of urban artists such as: Espacio Van Staseghem and Vertigo Graffiti.


Examples of traditional Bogotan music are  Guabina & Bambuco: They are traditional rythms of the whole region (Cundibuyacano altiplano). Guabina had its origins in the 18th century. The Bambuco is also typical Andean music and tied to Andean Colombian folklore. The origins of this music are unknown. Some say it is music with its roots in from Africa, others say it has strong spanish influences while others say it has Chibcha origins. Like many things in Bogota probably it is a product of the mix of origins.

On the other hand, at present there are diverse rhythms, with the typical mix of cultures and influences, such as Bomba Estéreo, who mixes electronic music, hip hop, reggae with music from the coast of Colombia. On the other hand a group like La 33 that mix the salsa with rap and reggae and Aterciopelados, a rock protest band that in recent years has looked at electronic sounds to create new avantgarde music.

Just step on the Transmilenio or walk through ” the Septima” and there is a big chance you will encounter people playing music.


While in many countries e-book trade has lead to the demise of bookshops, in Bogota there are still a lot around. Annually in april in Corferias there is a Book Fair (Feria de Libros) organized. This Book Fair is the most populair fair in Bogota. In 2017 the fair attracted more than 550.000 visitors. The most popular fair in he city. Bogota has always been the centre of literature  and critical and creative thinking in Colombia.

One hundred years of solitud written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez  published in 1967, sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages. Gabriel Garcia Marquez also lived in Bogota for some time. He was born in a coastal town called Aracataca.. At the age of 16 in 1943 he visited Bogota for the first time to finish his college at a prestigious school but wasn’t admitted. He moved to Zipaquira one hour from Bogota and finished his college there.  He came back to study Law in  Bogota on the National University . He was caught by the novel”The Metamorfosis” by Kafka that inspired him a lot in his further writings. In 1948 he was forced to leave the city following the closing of the university and burning down of his pension during the socalled Bogotazo uprising following the assasination of presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. He returned to Cartagena to study but didn’t finish it. After that he returned to Bogota for a short time to work as a  journalist for the Espectador. Cartagena and the coast would continue to attract him during the rest of his life also when living abroad.   Gabriel Garcia Marquez never attached himself to the cold climate and culture in Bogota.

Nevertheless in 2008 the Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Center was opened in the Candelaria, that was built by the Colombian Architect Rogelio Salmona, that is a homage to him.


Culture in Bogota: 40 theatres with in total more than 6500 seats. More than 9000 theater works are played every year. There are around the 300 theater groups that perform in the city both theatres on streets and many non conventional spaces.

Every two years the city celebrates the “Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro” a massive event that attracts theatre groups from all over the world  and it is considered to be the biggest cultural event held in Bogota.

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