Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia. The capital of the department of Antioquia, was founded in 1616 on the banks of the river of the same name as the mining town of San Lorenzo de Aburra, since 1675 – Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Medellin. The city is located at an altitude of 1538 meters above sea level. Medellin has a wonderful climate, the average temperature here fluctuates around +24 C all year round. Medellin is called the “Industrial Capital of Colombia”, in addition, the city is nicknamed the “City of Eternal Spring”, “Capital of the Mountains”, “City of Flowers”, “Capital Orchids”, “Beautiful Village”, “Silver Cup”.
During the last quarter of the 20th century, the city of Medellin was considered the headquarters of Pablo Escobar, the leader of the seventh richest criminal group in the world, thanks to the drug trade. In this regard, the city has gained a bad reputation as the capital of the world drug business. After the death of Pablo Escobar in 1993, the city regained its former industrial momentum at the beginning of the 21st century due to the construction of the subway, the Medellin city railway, the liberalization of development policy, the improvement of security and education, and the international promotion of the city as a tourist destination.
In the city, the “city of Botero” was built, named after one of the most famous natives of Medellin, the sculptor Fernando Botero. On an area of over 30,000 square meters, there is a museum, the Botero Sculpture Park, art galleries, studios for artists, and recreation areas. “The main idea of this project is,” said Botero, “to open up Medellin to the world as a cultural and artistic center, and not as the birthplace of Escobar, the leader of the Medellin cartel.” The former estate of Pablo Escobar, the richest drug lord in history, is now almost the main attraction of the capital of the department of Antioquia. Once upon a time, millions of deals were made here, shady politicians, lovers of young girls and just bandits gathered for parties. And now a park has been laid out here – a mixture of Jurassic Park and Michael Jackson’s surreal Neverland Ranch. Even during his lifetime, Escobar populated his lands with wild animals and exotic birds. And at the same time he built giant dinosaurs out of concrete. All this has been preserved, as well as a collection of rare cars collected personally by the drug lord, and a bullfighting arena, where show business stars now perform. And those who have their own private jet can even use the same runway where Cessnas loaded with cocaine once took off and landed.
The city itself is very colorful – rare Spanish churches rise among the old quarters and cobbled streets of the center, interspersed with villas and red brick barracks. The city’s attractions include the Basilica de la Candelaria, the Basilica Metropolitana (beginning of the 20th century, considered the largest brick church in South America) in the Parc de Bolívar, pueblito Paisa – an exact copy of a typical village in the region with numerous shops selling handicrafts, Plaza de Toros la Macarena, Plaza Botero, which exhibits numerous works by Fernando Botero, the world-famous local sculptor, the Museo de Antioca Museum with the works of the same Botero, as well as the university, two stadiums and, of course, the famous Jardin-Botanico-Joaquin-Antonio-Uribe botanical garden with its no less famous collection of orchids – the Orchideorama.
The city center is an example of a modern metropolis, with all its inherent attributes – high-rise glass and concrete towers, wide avenues, transport interchanges, parks, shops, and, finally, the only metro in the country and rightfully considered one of the cleanest in the world. Two cable cars pass over Medellin, which are part of the city’s subway. In recent years, Medellin has become increasingly popular among tourists: the city is surrounded by majestic mountains and full of parks.
The annual Fiería de Las Flores flower festival is held in Medellin in late July and early August. This colorful holiday opens with a parade of “caballeros” (in some years their number reaches 7,000 horsemen), marching through the whole city. The culmination of the holiday falls on the Defile de Silleteros, when thousands of locals descend from the slopes with flowers in their hands, forming a real moving sea from the colored spots of national costumes and bouquets. Also widely known is the Medellin International Poetry Festival, which takes place in mid-June.
Medellin is gradually becoming a calm and safe city. Recently, the crime rate has decreased by 73%.
In the vicinity of Medellin, it is worth visiting the city of Santa Fe de Antiochia, whose buildings are an excellent example of colonial architecture. South of the department of Antioch is the so-called “Coffee Triangle”, where coffee plantations stretch and some of the best coffee in the world is produced.