In the western part of Colombia, three ranges of the Andes mountain system stretched: Western, Central and Eastern Cordillera. The Colombian Andes is the most populated region of the country, the largest cities of the state are located here. In this region you can see snow-capped mountain peaks, among which mountain valleys, volcanoes, dense forests, high mountain steppes, Indian villages and extensive plantations where coffee, sugar cane, rice, bananas and tobacco are grown.
In the very center of the country within the Eastern Cordillera at an altitude of 2574 m is the capital of Colombia – Santa Fe de Bogota, or in short – Bogota. The city was founded by the Spaniards in 1538 on the site where the Muisca Indians have lived since ancient times. The Spaniards proclaimed Bogotá the capital of the conquered lands. Since then and to this day, this city has been the capital of the state. The central part of Bogota has retained colonial features: it is entangled in a network of narrow streets along which buildings of the 17th-19th centuries stand: the Cathedral (1610) on Simon Bolivar Square, the Santa Clara Church (17th-18th centuries), the Church of La Concepción (18 century), the Church of San Ignacio (16th century), the Church of La Tercera (18-19th century), the Church of La Candelaria and the Church of San Diego. In the ancient district of Bogota – La Candelaria is the world-famous Museum of Gold. The museum is located on 3 floors and contains the world’s largest collection of pre-Columbian items made by Indians (over 36,000 exhibits in total). The Museum of Gold exhibits jewels found at the bottom of Lake Guatavita, where, according to legend, the land of gold – Eldorado, nuggets, including the famous Colombian emeralds, gold bars, coins, jewelry and archaeological finds. In the La Candelaria area, the Church of San Francisco (16th century), the Church of Del Carmen, the Teatro Colon (1892), the Museum of Urban Development, the Military Museum and numerous old mansions are also of interest. Mount Montserrate rises above La Candelaria with a height of 3152 m, to the top of which you can climb by funicular. From the mountain there is a beautiful view of the city.
In the capital Colombia has several dozen museums. According to thereligionfaqs, the oldest museum in the city is interesting – the National Museum of Colombia (1823), which contains about 20,000 exhibits on the history of the country, the Museum of Colonial Art, the Museum of Modern Colombian Art, the Archaeological Museum and the Simon Bolivar House Museum. In addition to museums, Bogota boasts its many parks. In the El Salitre area is the vast Central Park named after Simón Bolivar, which is the largest urban park in the world. The park has walking and cycling paths. It is worth noting that Bogota has the most extensive bike path network of any other city in Latin America. Cycling is a favorite pastime of locals and tourists. You can see the main attractions of the capital of Colombia by going on a trip on a city sightseeing train. Its route covers not only metropolitan areas, but also the outskirts of the city. The final destination is located 50 km from Bogota in a small town called Zipaquira. Here is the famous Salt Cathedral, which was entirely carved into the salt mountain in 1600 at an altitude of 2652 m.
From Bogotá you can go to any corner of the country: north to the departments of Boyaca and Antioch and to the Caribbean coast, southwest to the valley of the Magdalena River, where the remains of ancient Indian civilizations have been preserved, west to the so-called “coffee triangle” and to the Pacific coast and to east – to the valleys of the Orinoco and Amazon rivers.
In the immediate vicinity of Bogota there are many attractions. 40 km from the capital there is the Facatativa Archaeological Park (Piedras del Tunjo), where on an area of 40 hectares you can see rock paintings that were made about 30,000 years ago, and 56 km south of Bogota , the Zoological de Santa Zoo is interesting. Cruz, which contains over 500 animal species. East Bogota is home to Chingaz National Park, which is designed to protect the high mountain communities of the Eastern Cordillera. About 2,000 species of plants grow here, including bright mountain flowers, bears, deer, tapirs, cougars, the Andean condor and the Peruvian rock cockerel. A little north of Chingaz National Park is the legendary lake Guatavita, which is mentioned in the description of the gold-bearing region of Eldorado. According to legend, the leaders of the Muisca Indians threw gold and precious stones into the water of the lake as sacrifices to the gods. Treasures lying at the bottom of the lake attract treasure hunters to this day. 150 km south of Bogotá is the vast Sierra Macarena National Park.. The local Sierra Macarena mountains up to 1600 m high are the watershed of the Orinoco and Amazon rivers and, accordingly, the boundary between the natural communities of the valleys of these rivers. The flora of the park is extremely diverse, there are about 50 species of orchids alone.
Northeast of Bogota is the department of Boyaca, known as the “Land of Freedom”. It was here that in the 19th century the main battles for the country’s independence from the Spanish crown unfolded. In the department, it is worth visiting the city of Chiquinquira, which is considered the religious center of Colombia, because here is the main shrine of the country – the icon of the Madonna of Chiquinquiri, the colonial cities of Tunja and Villa de Leyva and the Cocuy National Park, where 25 snow-capped mountain peaks are located in the northern part of the Eastern Cordillera.