Aug 29

Great Rivalries: Bogotá vs. Medellín.


God and Satan. Edison and Tesla. Capitalism and Communism. Todos Ricos and De Toditos. Gilesy and Plantain.There have been some great rivalries in world history, but none as great as that between Colombia´s two biggest cities: Medellín and Bogotá.

This rivalry roughly falls into a pattern you may see in other countries; such as the ones between New York and Los Angeles; Sydney and Melbourne; or Paris and the rest of France.

Speaking from my adopted city of Bogotá, I don´t know if it´s strictly accurate to call it a true rivalry, as it´s fairly one-sided. Rolos (Bogotá natives) never stop going on about how much they love Medellín: the weather, the Metro, the people, the plastic surgery. They have such a great time when they´re there, and one day, they want to move there. They just haven´t got around to it yet.


A wall in the center of Bogotá
Graffiti in Bogotá. Another feather in its cap?


On the other hand, paisas (Medellín natives) often make no attempt to hide their animosity. Just like their weather, Rolos are much colder than the famously friendly paisas, and it´s just so much harder to get around. Paisa pride seems so much more fervent and vocal than that of their Rolo big brothers. People in Bogotá seem to like their city OK, but don´t seem to have a problem in praising other great cities at the same time.

As for me, being biased and all, I´d say that, at the end of the day, I prefer Bogotá by the slightest of margins. For cultural activities, hipsters, restaurants, diversity and just plain craziness, I feel the nation´s capital just edges out The City of Eternal Spring.

That´s not to say that Medellín isn´t awesome, because it clearly is. It is the Most Innovative City of the Year, after all. Let´s put the weather to one side, as it´s generally agreed Bogotá can´t compete. To tell you the truth, though; I don´t mind Bogotá´s Londonesque weather at all: it lets me wear jackets and scarves without having to explain myself. Paisas definitely know how to party, and there´s a palpable buzz about the place – a buzz of people loving where they live, and taking pride in their city.


Innovative transport in Medellín. Frankly, Bogotá could do with a bit of that.
Innovative transport in Medellín. Frankly, Bogotá could do with a bit of that.


But that´s just my take. I´d like to hear what you, Gentle Reader, have to say about the matter. The fierce paisa pride seems to infect the many expats that have made Medellín their own; but, having said that, the vibrant expat community in Bogotá doesn´t seem to shut up about how awesome their city is, either. Where do you stand on the issue?

7 thoughts on “Great Rivalries: Bogotá vs. Medellín.

  1. James on

    Medellín, definitely. I enjoy many things about Bogotá but its people make me think twice about living there. Paisas are more genuine in general. Medellín feels to me a bit like a “pueblo grande”.


      Paul Giles on

      I think you´re a little right there with your comparison between the two. A ride on the Metro, when compared to Bogotá´s infamous Transmilenio, may just convince me of this.


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