The Columbian capital sits at 8,661 feet (2,640 meters) on a lush, high plateau of the Andes mountains. Quickly revitalizing after years of strife, Bogota has become a modern boomtown, although the old heart of the city, La Candelaria, retains its historic grace. At the center is the vast Plaza de Bolivar, flanked by such grand landmarks as the National Capitol, City Hall and the Bogota Cathedral. Also in La Candelaria, the one-of-a-kind Gold Museum preserves some of the wealth that drew the 16th century Spanish conquistadors: nearly 36,000 gold pieces as well as thousands of ceramics and pottery artifacts from the pre-Columbian era.
The Colombian capital is a modern metropolis where wonderful museums and futuristic architecture share space with shantytowns. It's a city where beasts of burden are just as likely to be seen on the streets as expensive foreign cars. (See visitors' guides listed here for travel safety advisories and the U.S. State Dept. travel warning.)
The city is the largest in Colombia and located almost in the center of the country. Like most Latin American cities, Bogot is a blend of indigenous tradition and Spanish colonial influence. Several historical landmarks from the colonial period have been preserved, including the Capitol Municipal Palace, the Iglesia de Santa Clara (whose walls are covered in frescos), and the Iglesia de San Ignacio, one of the country's most sumptuously decorated churches.
Other colonial attractions include the oldest quarter in the city, La Candelaria, and Cerro de Monserrate, a hill near the city that is famous as a site of miracles.
On the indigenous side, the Museo del Oro is an important repository of pre-Colombian goldwork -- more than 33,000 objects -- that reflects the artistry and richness of the Indian societies that flourished in the country before the arrival of the Spaniards. The exhibits in the Museo Nacional take a broader approach: visitors will find displays ranging from pre-Colombian artifacts to contemporary art.