Sep 10

The Bogotá Graffiti Tour: Where the Streets Have Lots of Names

Bogotá has been called ‘The Athens of South America’ thanks to the wealth of museums and galleries in the city. But art doesn’t stop at the doors of the gallery; Bogotá is a city that lives and breathes art, as is evidenced by the sheer quantity of street art that decorates the city’s streets.

Bogotá’s graffiti has long been something I’ve wanted to learn more about. Why is there so much of it? Who are the artists? What are the meanings behind these murals sprawled over walls? How do they get away with it? Well, last Thursday I had the pleasure of joining a Bogotá Graffiti Tour and having all my questions answered by the very knowledgeable guide (and owner of Bogotá Graffiti Tours), Christian Peterson.

Rather than go ahead and give you the answers to all those questions, I’m going to implore you instead to take the tour yourself. It’s (almost) free, after all (most people donate $20,000 to keep the tours running), and a great way to learn more about this often overlooked aspect of the city. I will divulge, though, that Bogotá has very different laws to back in the UK, and that accounts for how much graffiti there is in prime locations. It also means you can observe some truly excellent pieces on a Bogotá Graffiti Tour.

Christian shares his mad knowledge
Christian shares his mad knowledge
'Las Manos' in La Candelaria
‘Las Manos’ in La Candelaria

Tours take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 1pm and finish around 3.30pm.

People wishing to take the tour should sign up on the Bogotá Graffiti Tour website, and then meet with the rest of the graffiti-lovers in La Plaza de Los Periodistas, in the center of Bogotá.

Work by Pez, a characteristically happy graffitero
Work by Pez, a characteristically happy graffitero

Outside a hostel in La Candelaria
Outside a hostel in La Candelaria

Many companies actually commission work from graffiti artists, as is the case with the piece above. This is on the outside of a hostel, and the mural stops vogue graffiti artists ‘tagging’ the building out of respect for the original street artists. For the hostel owner, this means a much more attractive façade.

But it’s not just savvy hostel owners protecting their buildings. Some big companies are capitalising on graffiti’s appeal to youth:

Graffiti for Drive in La Candelaria
Graffiti for Drive in La Candelaria

While Drive might be a great film, graffiti like this is still accused of having sold out. The commercialisation of graffiti may be somewhat inevitable, but many still fight the changes that come about with the arrival of money onto the scene.

Much graffiti in Bogotá retains an anti-government, anti-capitalist and all-round punk-influenced message:

A wall in the center of Bogotá
A wall in the center of Bogotá
Perennially disappointed punk Eddy
Perennially disappointed punk Eddy

Even without the political message, it’s still great just to appreciate the imagination behind much of the graffiti here:

Graffiti is hidden away in many streets of La Candelaria
Graffiti is hidden away in many streets of La Candelaria
Some of Christian's own work
Some of Christian’s (Crisp) own work
Intricate graffiti alongside some huge tags
Intricate street art alongside some huge tags

Be sure to get in touch with the guys at Bogotá Graffiti Tours for more information on one of the best tours in the city.

Paul

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9 thoughts on “The Bogotá Graffiti Tour: Where the Streets Have Lots of Names

    Hugo on

    Hola que ria saber si este tour llega a barranquilla y otras ciudade de colombia o solo es en bogota?

    Reply

      Paul Fowler on

      Solo en Bogotá. No se van a empezar a hacer tours en otras ciudades, pero cuando sepa te aviso! Paul

      Reply

    Brice on

    Great street art in Bogota! I wrote a couple pieces on it. I have over 200 pics of the great open air gallery of the streets of Bogota.

    Reply

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