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10 museums you should visit in Bogota

Bogota, is a city filled with over 50 fascinating museums. From the art, history, science, gold or emeralds you will find amazing collections showcased in modern buildings and preserved colonial dwell ...

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ing. Most museums have adapted an area for children to explore and learn more about the exhibits shown.

1. Museo de Oro: The Gold Museum showcases over 55,000 pieces of gold and artifacts from pre-Hispanic cultures such as Muisca, Tayrona, Tumaco, Zenu. There is a special section for children. www.banrepcultural.org/museo-del-oro.

2. Museo Botero: Fernando Botero, one of Colombia’s greatest artists donated his private art collection as well as several of his art pieces for the enjoyment of the people. This wonderful museum offers visitors a look into the “chubby” world of Maestro Botero. Botero’s private collection includs painting by Picasso, Chagall, Renoir, Monet, Pisarro, Miro, and Dali. When visiting this museum you also have access to Museo de la Moneda (numismatic museum) www.banrepcultural.org/museobotero

3. Museo Nacional: Originally a prison today this museum showcases Colombina artists from the Colonial period until today. On the first floor they also feature visiting exhibitions such as the "Terracotta Warriors and Horses" to Rembrandt there is always an interesting exhibit to explore. On the third floor prison cells have been kept and you can appreciate paintings made by inmates on the walls. www.museonacional.gov.co

4. Museo de Arte Moderno: The modern art museum focuses on visual arts from the beginning of the 20th century until today. Itinerant exhibitions showcase works of other Latin American countries. www.mambogota.com

5. Maloka: This is an interactive science museum ideal for children of all ages. http://www.maloka.org/

6. Planetario: Dedicated to astronomy and sciences. This museum offers many interactive activities

7. Museo de Arte Colonial: Originally a Jesuit college today it houses a museum featuring baroque and colonial art from masters like Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos (1638–1711). There are many religious pieces. www.museocolonial.gov.co

8. Iglesia Santa Clara: Built in the 1600s this building is one of the oldest churches in the city. It has collection of paintings and sculptures. The building is regarded as a representative sample of Baroque architecture and decoration of the XVII and XVIII centuries in Bogotá. Richly decorated with a gold leaf vaulted ceiling and breathtaking murals and the walls. www.museoiglesiasantaclara.gov.co

9. Quinta Bolivar: is a colonial house from the 1800s that served as a residence of Simon Bolivar after the war of independence. It is now used as a museum dedicated to Bolivar's life and times. The House features rooms filled with period pieces. www.quintadebolivar.gov.co

10. Museo de la Policia: The police museum is located in the neoclassic building where the old police headquarters used to be. Tours last 45 minutes and many interesting tales told. There is an interesting collection of replica codes and laws, a collection of miniatures showing police uniforms from100 countries, as well as a diorama that provides an overview of the concept of authority, from prehistory to the present day.

Bogota, a city of parks

Bogota and its citizens known as Bogotanos (or Cachacos) is a city that loves nature. As such the city offers many major parks as well as small neighborhood parks to visit and enjoy. They become a c ...

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enter of leisure and relaxation for locals and visitors alike. Wondering around these parks will give you a different understanding of the city and its dwellers. Each park has its own personality and attracts different crowds.

City Center Parks:
These parks are bursting with passerbys and people that work around the area. Among the nicest to visit are Parque Santander, Parque de la Independencia, Parque Central Bavaria, Parque Renacimiento, and Parque Nacional. This last one is known as Bogota’s lung. In the afternoons this park is visited by “Cuenteros and cantautores” (storytellers and social songwriters). On Sundays and Holidays artists present free shows, and street vendors offer all sorts of local fare.

North City Parks:
Parque El Virrey, Mercedes Sierra, Country and Parque de la 93. These parks hold free classical and jazz concerts, ballet recitals, and food festivals.

West City Parks:
Parque de los Novios, Botanical Garden, and Simón Bolivar. The last one is the largest park in the city and it includes lakes, bike paths, walking paths and more making it ideal for families and sports lovers. This park has become the stage for several free concerts (Rock, Gospel, Salsa, Hop-Hop, and more). Near Parque Simón Bolivar you can find the Palacio de los Deportes (Sports Palace a great sport center), and Salitre Mágico (an amusement park).

South City Parks:
Tunal is one of the largest parks in the city with 56 hectares. It’s includes an amusement park, concert arenas, fields for soccer basketball, volleyball, field hockey, and track, as well as a bike path and playground .

All the city parks are interwoven by a series of cycle roads so that you can move easily from one to another while riding bicycles, skates or just walking.

A visit to Nemocon and its Salt Mine

Nemocon is a charming town about an hour north (94 km) of Bogota. Although less known than its neighbor Zipaquira, this salt mine and the town are definitely worth visiting. Many believe that the mine ...

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at Nemocon is nicer to visit and truer to what a mine should be than the one in Zipaquira.

The region of Nemocon was inhabited by the Chibchas, so the name of the town is in the native language and means “the cry of the warrior”

The drive from Bogota is easy as the highway is well marked. While driving north in the Savannah you can see beautiful scenery, small towns and get a feel for the country.

The mine recently opened to tourism. It focuses on showcasing a “real” salt mine. Visits to the mine are guided and last about 1.5 hours. The visit begins with a succinct introduction to the region and its geologic history. You begin descending 80 meters into the mountain. While in the mine you can see waterfalls, saturation tanks, stalactites and stalagmites

Before or after your visit to the mine, take time to stroll through the streets and discover the friendly people of Nemocon. Stop at any of the "tiendas" and enjoy a nice cup of coffee with panela, and some fresh baked pan de yucca or almojabanas. Or stay for lunch an enjoy ajiaco colonial, sobrebarriga sudada, or gallina al carbon.

When planning a trip outside of Bogota, Nemocon should be in your plans.

Top 10 things to do in Bogota to enjoy the city as a local

This is a list of activities you can do in Bogota, and enjoy the city as a local.

1. Watch a soccer game at El Campin Stadium. Colombian’s are passionate about soccer or “futbol” as we call it
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. Enjoy a game at our stadium and cheer for one of our local teams Santa Fe or Millonarios.

2. Shop in Paloquemao Market. If you want to get a feel for a real market and enjoy discovering new fruits and vegetables of different shapes and sizes, try a visit to this indoor produce market. Try to learn the names and recognize yuca, arracacha, mamey, papa criolla, borojó, mamoncillo, uchuva, chontaduro, and curuba.

3. Visit Bogota with the Ciclovia. Every Sunday and during Holidays Bogota’s main streets are turned into bicycle ways. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the city as a local, visit sites and try local food.

4. Play Tejo (teh-ho). This is a traditional sport that is enjoyed by many Colombians The game consists of throwing the "tejo" (a metal puck) across an alley at a distance of approximately twenty meters, to a one meter by one meter board covered with clay and set at a forty-five degree angle. A chief characteristic of the sport is its use of small exploding targets that contain gunpowder, commonly known as "mechas".

5. Visit the Usaquen Flea Market on Sundays. This flea market offers more than a typical flea market, from original hand crafted goods, jewelry, fresh food. The market is divided into an upper and lower area. You can plan to easily spend a minimum of 2 hours. It’s an experience not to be missed!

6. “Onces”– our version of Tea Time. Warm up with a delicious Chocolate Santafereño accompanied by Envueltos de Maiz, cheese, Pan de Yuca, Almojabana and Tamales.

7. Visit one of our museums for free. Bogota is a city of culture. There are over 100 museums and galleries in our city. Some of them participate in a program where the last Sunday of the month you can visit the museum for free. Among them you can visit the Gold Museum, Art Museum of the Banco de la República, Botero Museum The Botanical Gardens, Arqueological Museum, Emerald Museum, Casa Antonio Nariño, Bogota Museum, and many more.

8. Dance the night away at Andres Carne de Res. This restaurant has become an icon, a must for people visiting Bogota and its surroundings. Although the original restaurant is in Chia (30 min from Bogota) the restaurant has opened a toned down version in the city. The food is amazing with plenty of typical dishes to try, and you can dance the night away in this unique and quirky space.

9. Drinks anyone? You can always try our Aguardiente. But if you want to be a little more adventurous why not try a Canelazo or a Chicha (a variety of fermented and non-fermented beverages derived from maiz.)

10. Looking for typical Colombian dishes? Don’t leave the city without having tried at least 2 of these: Ajiaco, Cuchuco, Tamal, Fritanga, Sobrebarriga, Sancocho, Lechona, and Changua.

COLOMBIAN EMERALDS

Colombia is known for its coffee, flowers, soccer and of course our emeralds. If you are looking for an exclusive souvenir of your visit to our country Emeralds are your best choice.

We have intervie
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wed Algis Morales to better guide you in choosing an emerald. Algis and his family have been in the emerald industry for over 40 years in the mining, cutting and polishing, and jewelry industry. They have helped countless friends and loyal customers find that special Colombian emerald for their loved ones, or helped them find beautiful emerald specimens for their rock collections. Since 2001 they have an online presence www.emeraldbury.com.

What sets Colombian emeralds apart?
Colombian emeralds are considered to be the yardstick by which all other emeralds are measured up against. Colombian emeralds have always been considered to have the most desired green color. What differentiates Colombian emeralds from emeralds from other locations around the world like Brazil, Pakistan, Zambia, etc, is that Colombian emeralds are formed in sedimentary rock formations whereas emeralds from other parts in the world are formed in metamorphic formations over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. What this basically means is that during the thousands of years of geological formation, different conditions of extreme temperatures and pressure had to take place for these emeralds to come about. The deep green color that Colombian emeralds are known for is due to traces of chromium in their molecular crystal structure. That is why Colombian emeralds seem to have a "green on top of green" or "green on top of yellow or blue" color. Emeralds from other localities have a different green color because their coloration is due to traces of iron and vanadium, so their green seems to be a "green on top of gray" or "green on top of brown". Even within Colombia you can also find emeralds that are seemingly different in tone. Some emeralds can also have a slightly bluish undertone which is also desirable, but in being able to see a wide assortment of stones you can appreciate the unique beauty of our Colombian emeralds.

Where are the emeralds mined?
Colombia has several main areas where emeralds are mined. The main areas are comprised of Muzo, Quipama, Coscuez, Penas Blancas, Cunas, and Chivor, roughly about 100 miles away from Bogota.

What’s the process of mining?
The process of emerald mining is highly labor intensive. For many years these mines were quarried using the open pit method which literally sliced mountains layer by layer like an onion, with bulldozers and other heavy machinery. However, this caused much environmental damage and quite a great number of productive emerald veins were buried and lost by the erosion caused by this system. Today the mining is done strictly by drilling vertical shafts several hundred feet down into the ground, and then drilling horizontally branching tunnels in search of emerald bearing veins and pockets. The process is quite expensive but it is much safer and environmentally friendly than the way emeralds were mined in the past.

Where would you recommend people buy emeralds?
If you are looking to buy emeralds the best thing to do is ask someone you know if they can refer you to a reputable emerald dealer or jeweler. If not, take some time to learn about emeralds, (it's pretty fun and not that difficult as you can see), and make a trip to downtown Bogota to check out the emerald market for yourself. The emerald district in Bogota is on Avenida Jimenez and Carrera 7, in the heart of downtown Bogota. Ask several dealers and jewelers there to show you goods they have. You can always compare prices, compare the quality of stones they sell, and at the same time you'll make a few new good friends. The emerald market in Bogota shouldn't intimidate you at all if you're cautious and use common sense. Just like every other business the emerald market is a market built on people, relationships, and trust. I promise you that you'll love it, and you'll see how much you enjoy the experience!

How about on-line?
Buying emeralds online is an option of last resort unless you know and trust the person that is selling you the stone and if he or she has sold you emeralds in the past. When it comes to emeralds the best thing is to be able to see the emeralds in person because no matter how well photographed the emeralds are they can always be photo-shopped or altered. It is very difficult to capture an emerald's color, sparkle, and liveliness if you're not looking at it in person. Choosing a stone is a very objective and personal experience.

How can you tell real stones from fake?
Just like with diamonds, it is best to have someone who is reputable to guide you in the ins and outs of gemstones. To the untrained eye it can be very easy to be misled by the authenticity of an emerald, but someone who has seen thousands upon thousands of stones it is easy to tell the difference between a real emerald and a fake/simulant stone. Usually you can tell that a stone is not the real thing by the color of the emerald, the absence of inclusions, and the "feel" of it. This "feel" comes from experience and many years of looking at stones and setting them in jewelry.

What are the characteristics buyers should look for when purchasing an emerald?
Many people have heard about the 4 C's when it comes to looking for a diamond. The 4 C's are: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat weight. According to these characteristics in a diamond, the diamond industry goes by fixed prices that you can find in what is called the Rapaport Sheet (or Rap Sheet), which is basically the international benchmark by which diamond dealers establish their prices. However, when it comes to Colombian emeralds, and pretty much all other colored stones, they do not have this same stone grading system as diamonds because there are so many other characteristics in emeralds that simply cannot be established by the 4 C's, namely because when it comes to emeralds you have more than 600 tones of green with different levels of saturation and hues, and simply by this characteristic it's difficult to gauge an emerald's value. Because of this there really aren't any fixed prices when it comes to emerald. But don't let this confuse you nor let your interest fade. Emeralds are some of the most beautiful and fine gemstones, and with just a little education and eye training you can become quite good at telling the difference between average stones, commercial quality stones, and the really fine quality emeralds that Colombia is so well known for. Looking at emeralds is fun!

Color: When it comes to emeralds, the first and most important factor you want to look for is a deep grassy green color. The darker and deeper the color, the higher price the stone will command.

Clarity: Along with a deep green color, you also want the stone to have good clarity. In other words, the quality of the crystal should be as flawless as possible, or what we call "eye clean" (by simply looking at the emerald with the naked eye). Emeralds during their formation through hundreds of thousands of years develop growth features that some people call "flaws", but are known by gemologists as "inclusions". These inclusions are trapped gas bubbles in the crystal lattices of the emerald, other crystals that have been caught in the lattices during the formation of the emerald, or tiny stress fractures that have occurred through the growth and formation of the emerald through it's geological history.

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