La Candelaria is the historic section of Bogota squeezed between downtown and the mountains to the east. The neighborhood’s thin, one-way streets twist up and down in the Andes altitude. All the hostels are located in La Candelaria because it’s charming, it’s centrally located near Monserrate, Plaza Bolivar, and various museums including The Gold Museum, and it’s cheap. There’s a college feel during the day due to the universities in the area.
You may have the impression from my previous posts that I hate La Candelaria. This has changed because 2009 was fucked up. La Candelaria’s great. However, it’s not completely safe. Southeast to La Candelaria, further into the mountains, is a tough little neighborhood called Egipto (Egypt). I heard of a gringa who lived there for a short time who moved after a gunfight erupted on her street. Due south is Los Laches, which is also tough and gang-infested. Between Los Laches and downtown is Parque Tercer Milenio, the former Cartucho. And then there is downtown, which is crawling with crackheads and prostitutes.
So you have all these disreputable areas surrounding La Candelaria, where all the tourist gringos visiting Bogota are. Naturally, some of these neighbors not so inclined to work hang out in La Candelaria. They beg, sell drugs, steal, whatever. It’s no more than annoying during the day, but at night it’s a ghost town. The streets empty out. Stick-up kids and skanks take over. Nothing will happen to people walking in groups, but I don’t recommend walking the streets alone at night.
Most people have no problems in La Candelaria. It can be really cool! The emphasis on art is evident on every block. La Candelaria is home to some of the best murals in the world. Once the city gets a handle on crime, La Candelaria will be one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world.
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