Shutterstock/8499190/RMColombia's capital is a vast, sprawling, traffic-choked metropolis set high in a valley surrounded by the mountains of the Cordillera Oriental. Thanks to some enterprising local governance, Bogotá has undergone something of a renaissance in the past 15 years and has become one of the most exciting capitals in Latin America, its nightlife, dining, fashion and culture equal to anything that Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro can offer. However, it's a city that still suffers from shocking extremes of wealth and poverty, a city where air-conditioned, tinted-windowed cars stand bumper to bumper with rubbish-collecting horse and carts and where the conspicuous consumption on show in the enormous, flashy shopping centres and the gated communities of the north of the city stand in stark contrast to the depressing shanty towns to the south and east.

To the north is effectively a new city, characterized by the opulent restaurants, bars and nightclubs of the Zona G, Zona T and Parque 93.

The old centre is La Candelaria, a rabbit warren of colonial buildings, narrow, cobbled streets, theatres, universities and countless cafés buzzing with intellectual debate. La Candelaria is home to one of Latin America's most impressive cultural attractions, the Gold Museum, a dazzling display of pre-Columbian treasures. Outside the noisy, polluted centre there are numerous attractions and pretty towns to visit, perfect for day or weekend excursions, most impressive of which is the extraordinary salt cathedral at Zipaquirá.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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