Yesterday, Colombia celebrated it’s Independence Day: on July 20th, 1810, independence was declared in Santa Fe de Bogota. The process was by no means easy; the Wars of Independence continued long after this date, and Colombia became part of Gran Colombia (including modern day Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador) in 1819, but, following it’s break-up in 1831, Colombia began the process by which it would arrive at it’s current state, the Republic of Colombia, in 1886. But this isn’t a history lesson, it’s a travel blog, so we’ve put together a little list of the best places in Colombia to visit if this whole story tickles your historical fancy. So here are See Colombia’s Top 5 places for Independence travel:
1. Museo de la Independencia – Bogota
This museum, located in Bogota’s historic neighborhood of La Candelaria (Cra 7 #11-24) on the edge of the Plaza Bolivar, is where, all those years ago, Independence was declared in 1810. The museum contains personal items and artifacts connected to the main protagonists of this historic event, as well as a copy of the Declaration of Independence. The house itself is also well worth seeing; it’s historical design is one of the best preserved in the city. Well-worth a visit during your time in Bogota.
2. Puente de Boyaca
This bridge in Boyaca, near to Tunja, just a couple of hours outside Bogota, is where, in 1819, after marching his armies across the Andes to catch the Spaniards by surprise, Simon Bolivar, the liberator won a victory which definitely confirmed Colombia’s independence from Spain. This key victory is still celebrated as a national holiday on August 7th, and the bridge and surrounding area contains statues and monuments in tribute to the heroes of this battle.
We mention Mompos a lot on this blog (mainly because it’s so beautiful and unique) but it also has a special connection to Latin American independence, as it was here that Bolivar arrived in 1812, and recruited nearly all of the able-bodied men in the town (around 400) who went on to form the basis of the liberator’s army for his victories in Caracas, which inspired his continued struggle for independence. There are several statues of Bolivar in the town, and you can visit houses where he stayed during his time there. His well-known declaration is also seen throughout the town: “If to Caracas I owe my life, then to Mompos I owe my glory.”
4. Hacienda Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, Santa Marta
On your way to Tayrona Park, you pass this beautiful Hacienda, which is over 400 years old. This calm, and lovely place is where the great Simon Bolivar spent his final days, as so wonderfully recounted in Garcia Marquez’s ‘The General in His Labyrinth.’ There is a well-appointed museum, statues and monuments to the liberator, and Bolivar’s death bed where, in 1830, Bolivaar breathed his last, struck down by tuberculosis at the age of just 47. A fascinating slice of history to experience in between all the beaches and sunbathing.
5. Los Llanos
This is a slightly more abstract addition to the list, but I believe this region of Colombia deserves a place here: the great plains of Colombia and Venezuela are home to llaneros, essentially Latin American cowboys, and it was these men who made up the bulk of Jose Antonio Paez’s liberation armies, and played a key role in the Battle of Boyaca. Famed for their riding skills, and strength and endurance, the llaneros were essential to the liberation of both Colombia and Venezuela. A visit to Villavicencio or Yopal can offer a window into llanero culture, which revolves around cattle, traditional music involving the cuatro guitar, meat (including the capybara) and horse-riding. It’s a beautiful region to visit, there is amazing wildlife to watch, and it played a vital role in Colombia history to boot.
If you have any further questions about visiting these places please get in touch, we’re always happy to help.