Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Art City: Medellín, Colombia - Rebirth of the City of Eternal Spring

Art City: Medellín, Colombia
Rebirth of the City of Eternal Spring

From "the Most Dangerous City in the World" to a transformed urban area with artistic ambitions, Medellín, Colombia well and truly lives up to its moniker as the City of Eternal Spring. The "Most Dangerous City" title came with a Time Magazine cover in March of 1988 - in 2013 Medellín was named the most innovative city in the world in the Wall Street Journal's City of the Year Contest. It's a remarkable transformation in only 25 years.

Medellín - El Poblado skyline
In the bad old days, between drug cartels and the violence generated by the left-wing FARC and opposing paramilitary forces, Medellín was definitely off the list of usual tourist stops. Nowadays, business is thriving and the arts are the city's latest growth area, attracting the attention of dealers and collectors from around the globe. The city has a cosmopolitan vibe and a hot night life scene, with a contemporary culture that blends its South American and European roots.

You'll still find remnants of the old days here, from the heavy police presence that keeps the peace to a reminder that has been deliberately left in place in the Plaza de San Antonioas as a "homage to the barbarians". There, you'll find two bronze bird sculptures by Fernando Botero - one beautifully intact and the other a twisted fragment that was destroyed by a bomb in 1995 (allegedly planted by FARC) that killed 23 people attending a concert. The artist left the damaged version and added the new bird in 2000 as a monument to peace.

While not exclusively, you'll also find many artistic pieces that examine themes brought up by the shared memories of violent times - often called the "aesthetics of violence" - in works dating from the decade between 1995 and 2005. Many of the younger artists, however, go in different directions.

Medellín is the capital of Antioquia department in Colombia, surrounded by mountain peaks that dwarf the city's skyscrapers in a narrow valley that encompasses the Medellín River. There are many ways to experience culture in Medellín, from libraries, galleries and museums to beautiful parks and public spaces where many events are held.

Getting Around
The Medellín River runs parallel to the Metro system, an extensive public transportation network which includes Metro Cable, a cable car service that takes you up the hillsides. Metro Cable is your key to the cheapest of sightseeing, offering spectacular vistas of the valley city and its surroundings.

Botero Plaza, adjacent to the Museum of Antioquia 
Arts Institutions

Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín (MAMM)
Housed in a former steel factory, the Museum of Modern Art features a permanent display of prominent Colombian artists, among many other works. While you're there, you can explore the renovated Ciudad del Rio neighbourhood.

Museo de Antioquia
The Museo houses a nice collection of Colombian artists, including local artists and many Botero sculptures and works. You'll also find contemporary art works from around the world.

Fundación Universitaria Bellas Artes
The Universitaria is a natural centre for the arts and you'll find many performances, exhibits and events hosted in its campus.

San Ignacio Church
El Castillo Museo y Jardines
Set on verdant, landscaped grounds perfect for picnicking, this Euorpean style castle was built by a wealthy industrialist for his German wife. Nowadays, you'll find exhibits from the early 20th century, paintings, books and other artifacts of the time.

Contemporary galleries with a vibrant young arts scene - you'll want to check these out when you're looking for the city's current crop of artists:

Green Medellín
Along with the arts, the city has become known for its eco-friendly ventures - and it's a big part of why the WSJ gave Medellín the nod in 2013. Here are a few ways to check out the green scene.
  • Parque de los Pies Descalzos (Barefoot Park), including water fountains, gardens, bamboo and more in a zen-inspired design. (Address: Cra. 58 #42-125, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia - Phone: +57 4 3806977)
  • The eco-árbol - located on the avenida del Río, this hi-tech tree-like structure purifies 22,000 cubic metres of air every hour by removing carbon dioxide and traffic toxins. Built by a company called ConTreeBute. 
  • The Orquideorama, a marvellous wooden meshwork of modular “flower-tree” structures located in the Medellín Botanical Gardens that expands organically.
  • The Parque Regional Ecoturístico Arví is part eco-nature preserve and part Pre-Hispanic archeological site. It's located in the northeast part of the city, on the eastern slopes of Aburrá Valley, covering 16,000 hectares and 54 miles of trails to hike and explore.
Hot Tip:
Metro Cable at Santo Domingo Savio station
As a longstanding centre for the textile industry, Medellín also boasts a burgeoning fashion scene. You'll want to check out El Poblado’s Vía Primavera (also called Carrera 37,) an open-air space for independent designers – particularly known for shoes, leatherware and accessories. Look for the sophisticated summery pieces of local designer Camilo Álvarez in city boutiques.


Art Hotel
Where better to explore Medellín's artistic offerings than from the Art Hotel itself? It is located on a lovely treed street about 3 km from the Medellín Museum of Modern Art and 10 km from the Parque Explora science center with an "industrial-chic" design aesthetic. Amenities include a spa and trendy cocktail bar.
Address: Cra. 41 #9-31, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Phone:+57 4 3697900

Parque Regional Ecoturístico Arví
Charlee Hotel
This is a superior boutique hotel property when you have the budget to treat yourself. It features a stunning modern decor in a convenient location across from a park, just 2 km from the Medellín Museum of Modern Art. Rooms feature original art works, unique furnishing, including chandeliers and many have balconies that face the Parque Lieras. You can check out the quirky luggage-art installation on the walls as you relax in the lounge and you'll want to dress up for the rooftop cocktail bar and enjoy the view of the park and the twinkling city lights. If you really want to splurge, order a private chef and in-room massage.
Address: Cl. 9a #37-16, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Phone:+57 4 4444968

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