During the day it is a melting pot of relaxed university students, wide-eyed tourists and scrambling businessmen, however by nightfall it transforms into an area of good food, cultural delights and some of the most unique party places which are hidden down tiny escalading streets and alcoves. Situated in the city centre, this diverse neighbourhood will provide you with the best of salsa, bohemian music, vallenato and bars that offer tango, techno and jazz, while, at the same time, residing at the epicentre of Bogotá’s bountiful history and splendour. One of the most special features of this area is its beautiful architecture where one can reflect on the Colonial past in its streets.
Let’s start in Plaza Chorro del Quevedo, at the heart of La Candelaria, which is the alleged spot of the foundation of Bogotá and is now one of the best meeting places in the city. There you can find abundant drinking holes and bohemian cafés to start off your night. It is a great place if you are a jazz lover. El Gato Gris has live music on most nights and, right beside it, El Bolón Verde offers live jazz sessions from Thursday to Saturday, as well as open ‘jam’ sessions, if you fancy a go yourself. (Cra 1A with Calle 12B)
If it’s something a bit more upbeat you’re looking for, don’t worry… La Candelaria is host to an array of old and new party places. La Bolera de San Francisco, for example, is the oldest bowling alley in town, and now home to one of Bogotá’s most alternative scenes. Not only does it still function as a bowling alley, it also hosts live concerts, art expositions and is a big supporter of the electro music scene in the city (Avenida Jiménez No.6-71).
Another great spot is El Candelario, one of the most versatile party spots of the neighbourhood. Here you will find a mix of Rock & Roll from the 60s, 70s and 80s as well as the typical salsa beats and chart music. There is also a fantastic smoking area on the upper floor of the grand stairwell. A great choice for those large groups who are looking to cater for everyone (Calle 13 No.4-94).
Escobar Rosas is a disco-bar which can be found crammed to the brim most weekends. It is a very recognised establishment as a result of its longevity in the neighbourhood. With its beginnings as a pharmacy, maintaining the same name over the years, this ‘discoteca’ has been dabbed with modern tones; although at the same time has maintained its historical past. Escobar Rosas is also an antique vendor where you can become the owner of old iron ashtrays, wire bouquets of roses and unusual chairs. This is a place in which you will have a great cheap night out and where you can come across music such as Rock, Acid Jazz, Funk, Disco, Electronic and on occasion Salsa (Cra 4 No 15-01).
If bars and dancing aren’t your thing, there are plenty of cultural goings-on to keep you entertained. La Candelaria is home to an abundance of theatres, literature groups and art galleries which are active most nights throughout the week. Some of these places have magnificent colonial patios and features, like Teatro FUGA which has free dance, music and drama performances every night of the week starting at 7pm. There is a beautiful courtyard hidden at the back with a coffee shop (Calle 10 No.3-16).
There is also the Teatro Libre, which is currently celebrating its 40th year with an abundance of weekly productions (Calle 12B No 2-44). The old Fundación Teatro Ódeon, which was majorly damaged and abandoned after the Bogotazo riots, has recently been given a new lease on life. Its restoration has made it a place for local and international artists alike to exhibit their work.
Overflowing with history, colour and life, you can’t miss out on a night in La Candelaria. Different from other areas in this crazy metropolis, it maintains a charm that is unlike any other, and an atmosphere that will bestow a warm welcome upon any visitor.