• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

  • Ecuador!

    Ecuador: Sally Lightfoot Crab. Go Now!

    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

  • Venezuela!

    Venezuela: Los Roques. Go Now!

    Rooted in Europe, Venezuela boasts an impressive history, culture, and beauty, including the Caribbean Coast (pictured). Explore Venezuela!

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    This hidden gem is full of surprises, from the impressive salt flats (pictured) to the migrating flamingos. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent. Explore Bolivia!

Architecture of Colombia

WARNING: Drug trafficking violence is a risk in Colombia, please read this travel warning before going!

Colombian Architecture - House on the Amazon
House on the Amazon

The earliest forms of architecture in Colombia have not stood the test of time. The Muisca built primarily from clay and wood so no original structures have survived from the pre-Columbian time. Most of their structures were houses and little else. Most of these homes were in the shape of a cone and could rise up to be quite tall. They had few to no windows and were simply a shelter for the people.

With the arrival of the Spanish and colonization the architecture forever changed. Colombia became a center of Spanish rule and the architecture in the country reflects this base of power. Nearly all colonial towns were built in the Spanish style and layout, which means most cities are on a grid plan centered around a large Baroque cathedral. Of course this isn't the case for every city and town. Sadly, few of these original structures appear in their original state as the heat, humidity, and rains have demanded modern repairs if not complete destruction of these buildings. Despite this, the historic heart of most cities remains and many have been repaired to at least appear in their original form.

The colonial highlights in Colombia start with the capital of Bogota and also with the Caribbean port city of Cartagena. Much of Bogota's historic heart is in the colonial style and some of the most impressive buildings from this time period include the Palacio de San Carlos, the Iglesia del Carmen, Iglesia del Monserrate, and many other buildings in La Candelaria.

Cartagena is a great mix of Spanish and Caribbean in style as the city blossomed as the major port during colonial times. This historic city boasts a massive wall around the city as well as fortresses including Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas (1600-1700s). These fortifications were needed to protect the lands, the trade, and of course the city itself which boasts numerous colonial buildings from the time. The Catedral de Cartagena (or the Cathedral of Santa Catalina de Alejandria, 1612), the Church of Santo Domingo (1549), and the Convent of La Popa (1609-1611) are the religious highlights, but a stroll around town displays the numerous colonial houses, which add much depth to the city as many are brightly painted in a style common in the Caribbean.

Despite the highlights of Bogota and Cartagena, the country is home to numerous colonial structures and nearly every city founded during this time is home to at least one building from this era. The towns of Mompox, Popayan, and Villa de Leyva are all excellent examples of the colonial past.

With independence in the early 1800s the architecture in Colombia changed, but also slowed for some time. Neo-Classical architecture became popular at this time as the Catedral Primada de Colombia (1823) in Bogota and the Teatro de Cristobal Colon (1885) are in the style. Other buildings in other styles were also built in the 1800s, but without as much fanfare.

In the 1900s numerous international styles hit Colombia, but again few made a substantial impact. One of the more impressive buildings from this time is the Palacio Nacional in Cali (1933). It wasn't until the latter half of the 1900s that Colombia again hit its architectural stride. Modernism and post-modernism have become popular in the country, especially in the capital of Bogota as sky scrapers are common. The post-modernism movement has taken hold most strongly in the city of Medellin. The city has become a growing center of new construction as unique and creative designs are being built. Among the most impressive of these buildings are the Parque Biblioteca Espana and the addition to the Museum of Modern Art.

This page was last updated: March, 2013