Galerias is one of the most charming neighborhoods in Bogota. It’s not mentioned in any tourist books like Lonely Planet, but it’s one of my favorite neighborhoods. I’ve been meaning to do a Galerias picture post for a while. I was finally motivated by the CR article about the US embassy issuing a violent crime warning for Bogota. Apparently some embassy employees were scoped and another stabbed on separate nights.
I’m not surprised at those assaults. Just a month ago some gringos I know were attacked in Zona Rosa, one was stabbed. And a Colombian friend was scoped last week. That’s common. What surprised me about that article was that Galerias is “off limits to embassy employees.”
That seems backwards. Galerias is a middle class neighborhood, but I think it’s safer than Zona Rosa. You have to understand the mentality. Most Colombian youngsters looking for trouble aren’t particularly brave. If they want to take their aggression out on somebody, they’re going to pick somebody they’re sure they’ll easily beat on. They go to the north to find a gomelo or gringo who’s drunk and separated from his group, or a group of gomelos or gringos who they outnumber. Plus, the Galerias party district is one strip. It’s not an entire rumba neighborhood with countless side blocks like Zona Rosa.
Galerias is safe. Here’s a Plan B video on the party area:
Aside from the party strip, Galerias is known for shopping. It’s named for the shopping mall, but all of Calle 53 up to Avenida Caracas is storefronts selling everything from handcrafts, clothes and bridal wear, Christmas decorations and religious art, everything. The window merchandising is amazing. It reminds me of what Madison Avenue in the 1940s must’ve been like with intricate displays to stand out from the other stores and entice passersby to come in. There are super high-end art galleries and other stuff I can’t afford.
I love Galerias for the architecture. It’s so diverse, much like St. Louis. You can see a Spanish colonial building sitting right next to a modern one. It’s always a pleasure to ride my bike down the Calle 53 bike path and take in the scenery.
The area’s named for a shopping mall which I don’t like at all. It has everything, just about every Colombian corporation that matters has a branch there, but the hallways are narrow and the ceilings low. I get claustrophobic. So no pics from inside, only the neighborhood. I took the shots during the World Cup Under-20, which was held in Colombia. The Galerias area businesses went all out with flags of the qualifying countries and the Colombian flag everywhere.
Included is the architecture on Calle 53, the party district, the residential area behind the mall (I probably couldn’t afford to live there), and the bad ass window displays on Cl 53. In no particular order at all, all mixed up. I organized them on FB, so for easier viewing see the Galerias album on the Expat Chronicles FB page.
Note the crowning jewel, Monasterio. It’s the white building with green rooftops, and the window display has a bad ass model sailboat. Also note the tiny patio bar El Muro, where I always go to if I’m drinking in Galerias. It’s run by my friend Yorman, who’s built an elegant place and always plays tasteful music. Thirdly, note the purple dance club Morena, which when I took the pics was set to host Henry Fiol, one of the top salsa acts of all time (his best video). Galerias is a salsa hot spot in Bogota. Pachanga y Pochola also has world class acts – one time I went they were charging 70,000 pesos cover! Don’t note Chiguire, the chiguiro spot on 53 where I’ve had a bad experience every single time I’ve eaten there.
Love the pics!!!!! I’m homesick for Colombia now!!! I’m not Colombian but lived in Chapinero for a year and was in this neighborhood a lot. Love all the pictures!
Those galleries on the upper floors remind me a bit of Gamarra in Lima Peru, though of course Gamarra is probably looks more like some place in India or Cairo then Madison avenue in the 1940s….
Well, I’m surprised about Galerias. It’s like an oxymoron: hasn’t change much but it is completely different. Originally, the mall was one of two Sears stores in Bogota. The other one was in downtown (can’t remember where exactly). When Sears pulled off Colombia, The store became the mall, and the name of the neighborhood change as well.
It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve been there.
Its always interesting to see the national pride displayed in Colombian colors everywhere you look down there….
Toni-K knows how to party, definatley got racked up there back in 07 and some
Really nice colorfull pics – seems to be a really nice place.
Can`t wait to visit Colombia – hope the transantlantic flights are getting cheaper.
Regarding assaults: I lived almost 10 years in Lisbon, Portugals Capital. Although it`s nothing compared to Bogota, assaults, stabbings, etc (except scoping), also happens, everywhere and anytime…
From what native friends told me before I went living there, there used to be areas, that definitely should be avoided. Nowadays, except some known hotspot barrios, it just can happen everywhere, because people/groups that are looking for trouble or robbing people just go everywhere to do there thing.
And IMHO that applies to every major city.
Nice pics and write up.
Gallerias center, and barrio was named after the art galleries in the area, not the other way around.
The US government is really really fucking retarded. The most DANGEROUS areas of Bogota to party in are the ZR and the 93. Anybody who doesn’t know this it’s because they have their head so far up their ass it’s practically in their throat!
While nowhere is fully safe, 93 and zona rosa are not particularly dangerous.
Neither is Gallerias.
If 3 embassy employees are getting burundangeado in Gallerias, its because they were fools and let their guard down with a gang of unknown girls, not because the area is inherently unsafe.
The zona rosa and 93 have at least some police presence at night.
The clubs and bars have doormen, there are safe taxis around.
Any trouble will happen at least 2 blocks away from the T in the zona rosa.
El centro has crackheads with knives crazy and willing to die or go to jail in order to rob just 10k pesos, and has more clueless foreigners out partying on any given time than the zona rosa.
I will admit that the Zona Rosa gringo set generally have a lot more cash than the centro gringos.
@ Rubio and Juan Cierva – I think you guys are both right, your personal risk situation depends who you are and how you act. I’ve never had and never will have a problem in either area because I wish a motherfucker would! I’m up in the bad spots with no troubles because I wish a motherfucker would.
Where’s my building marica? You could have taken a pic of me hanging out my window waving a broom or my fist or a hamster!
I like your new ‘sponsor’ AmoLatina.com at the bottom of your site. I might try it out if it’s free and doesn’t involve me having to marry the girls or pay by the hour.
your right it depends on personal risk, etc and who you know and who doesnt fuck with you etc, but sometimes it’s just luck… however nearly every gringo in Colombia wants to feel like they’re some fucking hero because they travelled to a place the majority of foreigners say is dangerous…’ like how dangerous is bocagrande or chico really….
I used to think the same as you Colin, and in a way I still do, but now having seen somethings I think that in the ‘bad spots’ its all just a matter of time before something fucked up happens
Good pics, thanks for sharing!
If you’re ever in the Ybor City party disctrict in Tampa, Fla, or Bourbon St. in New Orleans and you go even half a block off the beaten you better WATCH YO ASS!
This Galerias district looks nice to me, I’d definitely hang out there.
Nice pics. I remember that it was known as Sears about 30 years ago as a previous commenter said. Very near is El Campin, where national and international soccer matches are held and yes, the Mall is ugly inside but it has interesting shops difficult to find in other places like military gear (they even sell american military wear there) and it has a curious shoe store for women where you have to wait outside in order to enter, it has nothing exotic or rare but i just don’t know why it is always so full.
rich – “having seen somethings I think that in the ‘bad spots’ its all just a matter of time before something fucked up happens”
One of the wisest comments on all of this blog…