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Medellín Travel Guide: 58 reviews and 104 photos

Antioquia's capital rests in a valley flanked by gently-sloping mountains. The setting is called the Aburrá Valley, a name given by the Indians who inhabited this paradise of eternal spring before the coming of the Spanish Conquistadors. On the 24th of August of 1541, Lieutenant Luis Tejelo, under the orders of Marshal Jorge Robledo, overthrew and banished the tribes and took possession of the valley in the names of God and the Spanish Crown. But 75 years were to pass before the Spaniards completed their expeditions of conquest and their obsessive quest for gold.

On March 2, 1616, the conquerors were able to pause and take the time to establish the fortified village of San Lorenzo de Aburrá in the valley. Thirty years later the settlement was moved to the site where "Ana's Stream" empties into the Aburrá River (today known as the Medellín.) On November 22, 1764, the Queen Regent, Mariana of Austria, granted the town the name of Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Medellín. Some 3,000 persons inhabited the new villa.

The new settlement was called Medellín in honor of the Spaniard who presided over the Council of the Indies, Pedro Portocarrero y Luna, Count of Medellín, a village in Extremadura. Far from the Magdalena River, Colombia's main communication route for nearly 500 years, buried and hypnotized in this enchanting valley, the villa of Medellín was to continue practically unchanged for two centuries.

In 1862, the city raised its head as the capital of Antioquia. Since then it has not stopped growing. It had been the hub of a network of oxen and mule paths which connected mines, villages and farming centers for cotton and cocoa. Gold first, and then coffee transactions continued to stimulate urban growth. Medellín approached the 20th century with nearly 50,000 inhabitants. In 1951 it had 360,000 and by 1985 it was, with nearly two million inhabitants, Colombia' second largest city and a vigorous manufacturing and business center.


Medellín has become a shopper's paradise. There is nothing like a Paisa's affability and diligence in helping a client. Therefore it is delightful to go shopping in this city. Or to be gratified with attentive service, whether in a fine restaurant or at a neighborhood shop. Doctors and hospitals in Medellín have gained prestige for such triumphs as the first kidney transplants in Latin America. Each week charter flights arrive in the city from neighboring countries or Caribbean islands, carrying travelers who are in need of medical or dental checkups or treatment.

Equal skill has been given to architecture and urban design. The proverbial beauty of Antiqueñan homes is echoed in the streets and avenues and now in the shopping malls built in recent years. There are over half a dozen of the latter. Utilizing the valley's climate of perpetual spring, the city has built malls which reflect the Arab's historical designs for hospitals: in the midst of lovely gardens. The lanes and interior footpaths skirt fountains and waterfalls and terraces where one can sip some famous Colombian coffee or Antioqueñan Aguardiente or Indian tea or Japanese sake

  • Last visit to Medellín: Oct 2001
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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