Bogotá offers abundant contrasts: modern shopping malls and open-air markets, high-rise redbrick apartments and makeshift shanties, futuristic glass towers and colonial churches. Simultaneous displays of ostentatious wealth and shocking poverty have been a feature of life here for centuries. In the neighborhood of La Candelaria a rich assemblage of colonial mansions grandly conceived by the Spanish were built by native peoples and financed by plundered gold.
Bogotá, a city of more than 8 million people, has grown twentyfold in the past 50 years. While the violence of decades past—fueled by the intertwined drug trade and guerilla movements—has since faded into memory, it suffers the growing pains typical of any major metropolis on the continent, notably insufficient public transportation and petty crime. With that said, recent mayors have made some progress in cleaning up parks, resurfacing roads, and implementing a new transportation system.
A city primarily known for business travel is unfurling under the light of a generation of passionate, creative, and proudly Colombian youth and it's quickly becoming a major urban hub of art, design, and nightlife. The central areas in Chapinero around the Zona G, Parque la 93, and the tiny historical suburb of Usaquen have seen the most impressive tourism growth.