Medellín Things to Do Tips by swesn
Medellín Things to Do: 67 reviews and 132 photos
From Hospital metro station, you can walk over and take a look at the Cemeterio de San Pedro. I know, it seems strange to visit a cemetery, but it IS quite a pretty cemetery... sort of... not stupendously interesting, but again, if you have nothing to do, why not just drop by.
And if you know the names of any executed or assasinated drug-gang members, you sure can try and locate them and pay your respect to the graves.
Medellin is a city of public art. In fact, I heard from someone that every building, it is required by law (please don't quote me on this) to have a sculpture outside. It is such a delight to walk around the city and hunt down these sculptures.
Some memorable ones are mentioned below:
- La Gorda (The Fat Lady) by Fernando Botero is found at Parque Berrio (Parque Berrio metro station). Next to her butt, yours looks very trim indeed.
- Monumento a la Raza by Rodrigo Arenas Betancur is found at Centro Administrativo La Alpujarra (Alpujarra metro station). Do make it a point to check this one out. I guarantee you will walk towards it, dazed, with your jaws hanging open.
- Monumento a la Vida by Betancur is further out of the city centre but quite walkable from Suramericana metro station. This is also quite impressive as well but slightly less so than the 'Raza' one.
- There is another one by Betancur, Monumento al Creador de la Energia, is located at Universidad de Antioquia but although I went there, I think I forgot to hunt for it, so I have not much recollection of the sculpture. *sorry*
In such an artistic city, you can expect a wonderful museum dedicated to art.
Indeed, Museum of Antioquia (region of Medellin) located at Plazoleta de las Esculturas is such an exemplary museum. I thoroughly love it here.
Naturally, the artworks of Fernando Botero are featured heavily here in one huge hall. One funny one I remember was that of Pablo Escobar, the famed drug-lord from Medellin, standing on the roof of a house and having a huge load of bullets flying towards him.
Plazoleta de las Esculturas or Sculptures Plaza is easily accessible from Parque Berrio metro station.
Next to a gorgeous striking building of white and red bricks, the plaza showcases a collection of FAT SCULPTURES by Colombian famous artist Fernando Botero.
The sculptures include disembodied body parts like a fat head, aptly called 'Head', a fat hand, aptly called 'Hand' and several fat beings like a reclining fat woman with a miniscule mirror, a fat boy on a fat horse, etc...
I met a group of graphic art students here one evening. They were doing a project to try and take pictures of a series of very odd curves and lines. It is to train them to zoom down to tiny details and focus on curves and lines. Well, they picked a good spot to try and find these odd curves and lines amongst the sculptures of Plazoleta de las Esculturas.
The Catedral Metropolitana is a huge, lovely regal B-R-I-C-K building. In fact, it is one of the largest brick building of its kind in South America. Impressive.
Well, OK, of course, brick is a common-enough building material. But most buildings usually get their bricks plastered over and then, the walls painted with various colours.
However, a rather unique feature in Colombian architecture (I noticed many in Medellin and Bogota) is that the bricks of many buildings are left alone and these bricks are creatively laid down and aligned such that they make such lovely striking buildings. In fact, there are coffee table books expounding the wonders of brick architecture in Colombia.
The Parque de Bolivar holds a free Sunday symphony orchestra by the University of Antioquia at 11am.
Although bone-tired that day after being on the night-bus, I made my way there. The band played various pieces throughout the one hour. I observed the crowd standing all around. They were mainly middle-aged to elderly people, with some young people and children, but people who truly appreciated and respected music. Everyone looked very interested and attentive, basking in the delightful music. One little old lady even got up to dance at one of the pieces. I later saw her walking away with a cane, helped by her son. Yet, she had the ability to dance just now. It was a beautiful experience.
A lovely way for an orientation tour of Medellin is to take the metro.
The metro is entirely on overhead structures (not underground) so you have a great view of the city as the metro zips by. The stations are very clean as you can always spot a cleaner mopping and mopping away.
If you arrive at the Northern Bus Terminal, you can easily reach the city centre as the terminal is connected to Caribe metro station.
From Universitario metro station, you can see the spacious university grounds, a park and the Botanic Garden. Look east from Hospital metro station and you might be able to see the San Pedro Cemetery.
Also from a metro station (sorry, I forgot which one... might be San Antonio), you can spot the wall of a building which was painted to resemble the slum areas up the hills in the distance. Clever.
From Alpujarra metro station, look to the west and you will see a series of pointy columns on a square.
More about these sights later.
Frankly, I fail to see the touristic appeal of Cerro Nutibara.
If you have nothing else to do, it is a pleasant enough excursion, I supposed. Get off at Industriales metro station and somehow make your way there. This area seems to have several factories.
At 80m above Medellin, it supposedly offers a paronamic view of the city, but as it is thickly wooded, you have to work quite hard to find a spot. Or maybe I just couldn't find the viewing point.
You can walk slowly up to the summit. Along the way, you can see more national and international sculptures. There at the summit, you find Pueblito Paisa, a curious set of buildings quite like an open-air museum (with some rooms showcasing historical stuff) and there are souvenir shops too.
'Paisa' is a region of Colombia that includes Antioquia (where Medellin is). I had copied a list of 'Mentiras de Paisas' (Lies from Paisas) from a souvenir shop without totally understanding it. I knew it was a joke, but only when I showed it to my friends from Medellin, did they explain to me the 'Paisa' humour and 'common sayings'.
Here is the list:
- Mañana le pago (Tomorrow, I pay you)
- Quiero a mi suegra (I love my mother-in-law)
- El último y nos vamos (This is the last one and then, we go)
- No vuelvo a beber (I am not going to drink anymore)
- Tu erés mi vida (You are my life)
- Mañana vengo (Tomorrow, I come over)
- Tengo finca (I have a finca – [a ‘finca’ is a holiday house in the countryside with swimming pool, horses to ride on, etc… usually friends and families go to spend a weekend or holidays together. But people say it to try and get someone to go over for sex, when actually the ‘finca’ they promised is just a motel.])
- Te quiero mucho (I love you very much)
- Nunca te dejaré (I will never leave you)
- La puntica no más (Just the head of the dick, nothing more — [Just a quickie])
This square MUST have a proper name but unfortunately, I don't know it. I call it the Pointy Columns because they are a series of long columns just standing there in the square.
From Centro Administrativo La Alpujarra (Alpujarra metro station), face north and you can see these curious columns.
Apparently, at night, these pointy columns turn bright and the brightness is dependent on the phase of the moon. How ingenuous!! Naturally, this means that it makes the most sense to come here for a visit on a full-moon night.
Another artist Pedro Nel Gomez has a series of murals near Parque Berrio at Carrera 51 and Calle 51.
His works seem reminiscent of (at least slightly) Mexican murals. Those of Diego Rivera's come to mind.
He created 2,200 square meters of murals in public buildings, at the Museo de Antioquia and at banks.
Parque San Antonio is accessible from San Antonio metro station.
It is a large square where the interesting thing is the pair of Pajaros de Paz or Birds of Peace.
Fernando Botero first put 1 fat bird there at the square. However, in 1995, the first sculpture was seriously damaged by a bomb placed there by guerillas, killing about 20 people. The damaged sculpture is still standing there, with a plaque listing the names and ages of the people killed. Gosh, they ranged from 7 years old to 40 years old, but many were young teenagers. Very sad.
Now, another Pajero de Paz is placed next to the damaged one in a symbolic protest against the violent act.
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