Now that I’ve told you about everything I learned about the metro system of Medellin and its culture, it is time to talk about the places that Arthur and Eliana, my private guides from Medellin-Travel Tour Operator, took me to.
I was able to see the actual progress of the higher communities, the poor areas known as comunas (who were most benefited by the metro cable). Specifically we took the cable car to Santo Domingo Comuna.
Santo Domingo Neighborhood
To be honest, even though Santo Domingo is a comuna and that is commonly a negative connotation, you get a surprising feeling of being safe. I never felt like I was visiting a bad area.
It might have been like that years ago when there was no metro cable and during the 1990’s, when all of Medellin and Colombia, in general, was dangerous. Luckily for locals and visitors, those days are long gone. I am also sure that there are still many issues in the poorer areas, but I found this part of our tour most interesting.
To me, Santo Domingo was a quaint town on a hill where kids can play on the streets and artwork is everywhere you look. The artistic murals are awesome.
Public Library Parks
One of the best projects in these areas is what they called Public Library Parks. These are gorgeous buildings with large gardens, but most importantly with tons of books that people can have access to for free. They also offer cultural programs, sports programs and many others also for free.
The government’s goal in creating these parks is to get the kids off the streets and turn them to art, culture, and books instead of drugs and violence. Biblioteca España is one of the most beautiful Library Parks. Unfortunately, during my visit its façade was covered, but we were still able to go inside.
In the words of the mayor of Medellin: “The library parks are cultural centers for social development that encourage citizen encounters, educational and recreational activities, building groups, the approach to the new challenges in digital culture. And they are also spaces for cultural services that allow cultural creation and strengthening of existing neighborhood organizations.”
Unique Things To Do In Medellin
Did you know that Medellin is called the ‘City of Eternal Spring’? That is because the weather here is amazing year round. Because of that, it has become one of the largest exporters of all sorts of beautiful flowers all over the world. It is second to only Holland.
Fun Fact – 59% of US’s flowers are imported from Colombia.
I wasn’t there at the best time of the year for flowers, but if you get the chance to be in Medellin in August, you have to participate in the flower festival.
Another fun fact that surprised me is that Medellin has recently become a hub for fashion. However, the textile industry has been an important part of the city’s economy for over a century. The Coltejer Building is a true landmark (tejer means knitting). If you take some time and look closely, you will notice that the building looks exactly like a needle. It is also the tallest building in Medellin.
Another important industry in Colombia is coffee. Medellin is surrounded by coffee plantations. I loved that there were coffee sellers everywhere. You can get a delicious cup of coffee for less than 50 cents.
Do you remember the old men that used to sit on a corner with typewriters that you could go to if you need a document typed out? I didn’t even know these typewriters still exist, but in Medellin they do.
I love live music and Medellin offers plenty. You will find bands or individuals performing in almost every plaza. I was able to see them in Parque Berrio, which is considered the oldest park of the city.
The best part of doing a private tour is that the guides allow you to choose what to see and the places that interest you the most. Having locals showing me around was so good. I would never want to simply see a place on my own and not learn about it. I can do that on youtube or TV. Learning all of the cool stuff that surrounds a place is what makes traveling special for me.
Our next stop was El Hueco – the black market of Medellin. I kept asking over and over again about outdoor markets, so they took me to the motherlode of them. This is not your typical market. It is much like a huge market that I know in Guatemala where if you get anything stolen you have a high probability of finding it and buying it back at the same market.
Churches of Medellin
Confession time – Churches to me represent repression, slavery, and death so I’m not a big fan of visiting them. I know it may sound pretty gruesome, but if you think about it, almost everywhere you go, religion was forced on the locals.
However, Medellin has several that I think are interesting, so I decided to visit one of them. It is actually one of the most famous ones in the world due to its architecture. It is called Metropolitan Catherdal and is located in Bolivar Square. It is famous for having the most bricks of any church in the world – 1,120,000.
Information About Metropolitan Cathedral of Medellin
– Its full name is Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
– This is a Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
– It is the main church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Medellin
– The building was designed by French architect Émile Charles Carré in a Romanesque style.
– It was declared a National Monument of Colombia on 12 March 1982
Information about Travel Medellin Tour Operator
What I liked the most about this tour operator is the personal touch. It is not a large company and is run by the owners – Arthur and Eliana.
My time in Colombia was restricted so I focused on Medellin, but they also offer other tours outside of the city. There are even multi-day tours.
I had so much fun traveling with them and am now addicted to working with private guides!