09.04.2011 - 11.04.2011 25 °C
Cali may have been dangerous 15-20 years ago, but Medellin was undisputedly worse – known as the capital of the World’s cocaine trade and also ‘murder capital’ given it’s astronomical homicide rate (6349 recorded in 1991 - that's an average of over 17 per day). Like Cali, today the centre is safe enough for a sensible traveller to visit, and with the money that has been pumped in to regeneration there is plenty to see.
In many ways Medellin looks like a city of the future – just 60 years ago there were a meagre 360,000 inhabitants, a dramatic & sudden contrast to today’s almost 3 million. Colombia’s second city now boasts an ultra modern over-ground metro system, big wide open carefully designed spaces with modern art, museums, galleries, planetarium, a model village on a hill with views out over the city... Some of the cityscapes here could be straight out of Star Wars.
There are more skyscrapers in Medellin than in the cities of New York, LA & Philadelphia combined.
Like Cali it’s still a Colombian city with a history – I’d seen more prostitutes and beggars in my first 2 hours in Medellin than I’ve seen in the whole of the rest of my life (mainly thanks to taking a wrong turn down a side street where the hookers where spilling out of the ‘casas de cita’ in to the street, still going strong at 10am Sunday morning) – but it still remains a testimony to the regeneration which can come from public money.
There’s been a great focus on public space for the family. Check out these installations – from passages filled with smoke and random jets of water to the ‘barefoot park’ with foot spa and giant musical instruments:
Fernando Botero is the nation’s favourite artist - he has donated a large number of his works to the city.
Pajaro de Paz (Bird of Peace) scarred by a guerilla bomb
By the government buildings and library 'Parque de las luces' contains hundreds of lights (luces) which light up at night:
Medellin by night