MEDELLÍN (Colombia)Medellín (+/- 3 million inhabitants) is the second city of Colombia and capital of the Antioquia department. The ‘city of eternal spring’ is located at an altitude of 1,500 metres; the daytime temperature is around 22°C. The centre lies in the valley of the Medellín River and several neighbourhoods are built against mountain slopes. Medellín was in the grip of the drug mafia in the 1980s and 1990s, and there are still occasional outbreaks of violence. Through investments in education and modern public transport, there has been an effort to offer the population better prospects. The metro network is 33 km long and consists of 5 lines. The above-ground metro and the metrocable (cable car) are tourist attractions.
In the 19th century, Medellín was a centre of the gold trade; today, its economy revolves around trade, services and industry (food, textiles, metal, cars). Medical treatments, fairs and conferences attract many visitors. Medellín has an international and a national airport.
For the international tourist, the Museo de Antioquia is a must-see. The world-famous Medellin-born artist Fernando Botero (1934) has donated his collection of 19th and 20th century European art to this museum, including works by Picasso, Miró, Chagall and Matisse. Outside, there are 23 bronze statues by Botero, enlarged human and animal figures that seem to have escaped from a fairy tale. Fernando Botero is also a painter and in the 1990s he created paintings about the drug violence in Colombia.
Museo de la Universidad de Antioquia has a wonderful archaeological collection of indigenous pottery.
The pleasant climate means there is plenty of street life and many restaurants have open sides. Parque de Berrio is a meeting point between the stock exchange building, the bank and La Candelaria church. Parque de los Pies Descalzos has cafés and outdoor activities. In the luxury high-rise district ‘El Poblado’, Parque Lleras has countless bars, hotels and trendy shops. Parks that are safe during the day, however, can turn into criminal hotspots at night.
The Jardin Botánico has an annual orchid expo. The Parque Arví nature reserve in the hills is accessible by metrocable. On Sundays, people walk and cycle in the city on closed motorways.
Local products include ‘Juan Valdez’ coffee and rum. Breakfast usually involves soft ‘arepas’ with white cheese. The ‘criollo’ cuisine serves dishes with corn, cassava, beans and meat or sausages.