Calle 11 and Carrera 4 form what is undeniably this city’s cultural corner, where the first-time visitor to the capital will find the Old Mint, the most important and largest public library in Colombia, and the Botero Museum. The surrounding area in the heart of the La Candelaria neighborhood, also offers beautiful views of a bygone Bogotá.

Old Mint

During colonial times, Calle 11 was known as the Calle de la Moneda, as it was where the first mint was established in the colony then known as the Nuevo Reino de Granada ­– the new realm of Granada. Founded in 1620 by King Felipe II of Spain, the Casa de la Moneda was the first mint on the continent to produce gold coins. The well preserved building, which is worth a visit in and of itself, still houses the old minting machines and has a fine collection of coins, old Colombian bank notes and European and Colombian art. The Casa de la Moneda is open all week except for Tuesdays and entry is free.

Monday-Saturday
9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Sundays and Holidays
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays
Free

Botero Museum

Right next door to the Old Mint, is the Museo Botero – Botero Museum – which opened it doors at the turn of this millennium and houses 123 works by this imposing and respected Colombian master, including several of his bronze sculptures. The museum is also home to an important collection of European art by impressionists Claude Monet and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and features works by Picasso, Joan Miró and German expressionist, Max Beckman.

Monday-Saturday
9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Sundays and Holidays
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays
Free

Luis Ángel Arango (BLAA)

Just across the street from the Botero Museum, visitors can enjoy the country’s most important public library, the BLAA – Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango. The expansive library, an architectural landmark in downtown Bogotá, has kept its doors open to the public for more than half a century. With its imposing grey façade, the BLAA is a popular meeting place for students and researchers. It’s granite steps are a nice place to take in the sunshine and sounds of La Candelaria’s busy streets, and there is no better place to visit when researching Colombia or browsing books on this country’s history.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Luis Ángel Arango is its concert hall, with a bold oval shape and fine acoustics. It is the country’s most important venue for chamber music and houses two Steinway grand pianos, a Clementi pianoforte, a harpsichord by Rutowsky and Robinette (built in New York in 1965), and a pipe organ designed by Oskar Binder. The Arango concert hall has a regular program of concerts and recitals by some of the country’s most important artists. For a list of upcoming events, check out the library’s website at www.lablaa.org.

Monday-Saturday
8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Closed Holidays
Free

Art Museum of the Banco de la República

Designed by Colombian architects Enrique Triana and Juan Carlos Rojas, the Museo de Arte del Banco de la República took eight years to build and faces the square on the corner of Calle 11 and Carrera 4. Stark white columns contrast with the bright hues and red brick roofs of the old historic neighborhood.

Founded in 1957, the Art Museum grew from an initial three works into an impressive permanent collection of Colombian, Latin American and European art comprising more than 3,500 pieces and an exposition hall for temporary exhibits. Upstairs, a terrace with a Juan Valdez coffee shop offers a stunning view of the mountains and the Monserrate peak, as well as the nearby Iglesia de la Candelaria with its cream-colored walls and colonial domes.

The museum is currently featuring an exhibition of more than 200 masterworks of Latin American photography entitled Urbes Mutantes – Mutant Metropolises. For a list of upcoming exhibitions and events, check out www.banrepcultural.org.

Monday-Saturday
9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Sundays and Holidays
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays
Free