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Taking a Cultural Tour of Medellin Colombia

 A photo of a bag hanging near a Medellin, Colombia tourist spot.
Learn more about the culture and history of Medellin Colombia.

Medellin Colombia has a rich culture, and it is known to be one of the most visionary cities in the world. Medellin once had a sordid history, often called the “most dangerous city” during the 80s, but it has evolved from its darker past and is now a thriving city that rivals all others around the world.

Because of its spring-like climate all year round, Medellin is referred to as La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera, or the City of Eternal Spring.

Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia, and the capital of Antioquia. During the turn of the 21st century, Medellin regained industrial dynamism and has won numerous international awards for its achievements in politics, education, social growth, and various fields in urban development.

In order to fully embrace and understand Colombian culture, especially if you plan on living in Medellin for a while, we have listed a number of places and activities that will surely make your stay more worthwhile.

Food, Food, and More Food

Colombia is not particularly known for its culinary heritage. You’ll find that Indian, French, and Italian restaurants are very common, but a place dedicated to Colombian food is pretty rare. However, Colombia has an amazing culinary culture, and here are some of the dishes you have to try.

These represent not only Medellin, but Colombian culture as well.

The most famous traditional dish in Colombia is the Bandeja Paisa (Paisa Platter). This is a mix of white rice, red beans, shredded meat, Chicharron, Chorizo, morcilla (black pudding), fried egg, avocado, arepa, and plantain. Quite a lot? That’s because this dish is meant to fill the stomach and give you a huge burst of energy. It is now known as the country's national dish, and the Colombian government has recently changed its name to Bandeja montañera (literally meaning “mountain tray”).

A bowl of local food served at a Medellin restaurant.
Don’t leave Medellin without sampling some of their local food!

Chicharron is a local specialty and might arguably be one of the most unhealthy dishes on this list. It is basically deep-fried pork rinds, often cooked to perfection. It is well-balanced in terms of its juicy flavor and crispy texture. Chicharron is often served together with a signature traditional dish, or as an appetizer.

There is a whole lot more Colombian food you can try out in the city of Medellin to know more about Colombian culture. As you walk through the city, make sure to explore the food. You will definitely not regret it.

A Walk Through Historical Medellin

  • Plaza Botero and Museo de Antioquia
  • Plaza Botero is an outdoor park that displays the works of Colombian sculptor and hometown hero Fernando Botero. The plaza showcases 23 of Botero’s works. These sculptures vary from rotund Roman legionnaires to animals, all of which are larger than life.

    Surrounding Plaza Botero is the Museo de Antioquia. This museum was founded in 1881 and is now filled with 5000 pieces of sculptures, drawings, reports, and reviews, all related to the history and culture of Colombia and the city of Medellin.

  • Palacio de La Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe
  • This place was built in 1925 as a gothic revival architecture. This is one of the most unique buildings in beautiful Medellin. When you stand at an angle facing the structure under the sunlight, the signature white stones that were used to build the Palace will glow in a greenish tinge. The building is also adorned with beautifully stained glass windows that are sure to take your breath away.

  • Casa Museo Pedro Nel Gomez, Medellin
  • This place is a must-visit for lovers of art. The museum used to be the home of Pedro Nel Gomez, a Colombian engineer who went on to study art in Florence, Italy. He contributed to the urban planning of the city of Medellin, and was also the founder of the School of Architecture in the city.

    A photo of a historical Medellin tourist spot.
    Explore historical Medellin tourist spots to paint a picture of its past.
  • Edificio San Ignacio, Medellín
  • The San Ignacio Building is the main headquarters of the University of Antioquia, located in the center of Medellin. It is said to preserve the history and culture of the city. The building was constructed in 1803, and for more than 200 years it has undergone a number of modifications and renovations. It was declared a National Monument on March 12, 1982, and has currently been restored to its fine neoclassical architecture.

Exploring Modern Medellin

Historical Medellin shouldn't be the only stop on your cultural tour. To have a better understanding of the traditions of Medellin, you can explore the modern culture of the city and marvel at how it has adapted to changing times.

  • The Medellin Metrocable
  • This is also known as the cable car system in the city. Medellin lies in a big Andean bowl, and the best way to take in the beauty of the city is to take a ride hundreds of feet up. This Gondola Lift system was established to augment the public transit system and alleviate the congestion of other public transport systems.

  • Comuna 13
  • The urban area of Medellin Colombia is divided into 16 zones, which is further divided into communes, also known as comuna.

    Comuna 13 used to be one of the most dangerous places in the city, with violence and gang riots frequenting the vicinity. However, modern Comuna 13 transformed itself from a dangerous place to a thriving community. It is now a popular tourist destination where visitors can marvel at the colorful murals of the community that reflect the difficult past, as well as illustrations depicting hope for a better future.

  • The Coffee Shops of El Poblado
  • Colombian coffee is regarded as one of the best in the world. Currently, the country is the 3rd largest producer of coffee, and is one of the leading exporters of coffee products.

    A photo of a historical Medellin tourist spot.A sack of Colombian coffee beans.
    Colombian coffee is among the world’s best beans. Sip a local cup of joe while in the city!

    Due to the booming coffee industry, Colombia has a thriving coffee community. The El Poblado neighbourhood is the heart of Colombian coffee culture. This vicinity serves unique coffee blends, from smooth and mild to rather strong roasts. They also serve fresh roasted coffee beans that would be a great takeaway as you will likely not find them anywhere else in the world.

Medellin is a city with a troubled past. Yet, in spite of its darker story, it has grown to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world filled with people, color, and vibrancy. The best way for you to get to know Medellin is to explore the city and immerse yourself in its unique and interesting culture.

It's a given that there are a lot of things to do in Colombia, so the best way to get started is to learn about the culture and basics of each city. Enjoy your stay and have a blast as you take in the sights and sounds of Medellin Colombia.

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