History and origins of Bogotá: what‘s behind its name

indigenous gold

If you are that kind of person that is curious and is always looking for answers; if you investigate everything about the place you are going to visit or you love history; or you just want to know something new, then this article is for you! This is a bit of the history and origins of Bogotá!

As you know, all words in every language have an origin and Bogotá is no exception. It means something too and its origin is going to help you understand the city at its core.

The origin

If you are not an enthusiast, sometimes talking about history can be boring, but there are always some details about the story of a place that is interesting. Bogotá is the capital city of Colombia and it was founded 480 years ago on August the 6, 1538 by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, a prominent Spanish conqueror. But before he arrived at this incredible land, there was a tribe that lived and cultivated the green landscapes. They were the Muiscas, an indigenous people that probably came from Central America in the 06th century.

This tribe settled in the Cundiboyacense plateau, which is comprised of the departments of Cundinamarca and Boyacá, and the southern region of what is now Santander. They were divided in five Zybyn, or regions, and one of the most important was Bacatá, the capital of the Zipa´s confederation. The Zipa was the leader, like a president for us. He governed the five Zybyn that made up the Zipazgo, which was basically the capital politic and administrative division of the Muiscas territory. In Muiscas´s language, Bacatá means “Lady of the Andes,” but some say that the real meaning is “field outside of the tillage,” and some say this was the recreation city for the Zipa. The truth is that all this changed when the Spanish arrived and established their colonies everywhere.

Why they decided on “Bogotá”

1538 – 1539

When Quesada established the city in 1538, he used the name Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza, but in 1539, it was changed to Santafe. Later, people started to called it Santafe de Bogotá to differentiate it from other cities that had the name Santafe too.  They used it because of the indigenous region called Bacatá that was there before, then the name mutated to Bocotá and finally to Bogotá.


The Spanish didn´t accepted the full name legally; it wasn’t until Bogota´s independence in 1819 when the name officially became “Santa Fé de Bogotá”.


But in 2000, the constitution was modified to take off the part that said Santa Fé, leaving just the name Bogotá and the city finally returned to its origin, to its roots, and became the “Lady of the Andes,” or the “Lady of the mountains that shine.” This is what  Bogotá means, a city full of opportunities.

If you want to see this radiance and learn more about this beautiful city, come and visit! You can go to the Gold Museum/Museo del Oro and learn about Muiscas and their culture. You will find it very interesting and you will understand why this land is so abundant; the reason why the Spanish stayed here.

I think it´s important to know where we come from, how our ancestors built the society, how it´s evolved over time, as we know until now and what we can do to improve it.  That is why I wanted to share something about the city I grew up in with you because I love it and want you to fall in love with it too.

Would you like to read more about the history and origins of Bogotá? Maybe you should check out “7 Cool facts about Bogotá History” or “Simón Bolívar: Facts you didn’t know” to keep enjoying history! And don’t miss any of the articles on our platform, they probably will help you have a better stay in Bogotá.

Continue learning more about this beautiful city on Colture.co and keep informed of all the activities the city has for you following us on Instagram and Facebook.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply



Colture's Community Deals

Events now

Colture - See places through the happiness glasses

Colture is a project to show places from a happiness perspective.

We want highlight and bring together all the amazing things from the places that are dear to us!

Join our community, comment and share!!

Do you want to advertise in our newspaper? /¿Quiere publicar su anuncio en nuestro periódico?


For other things / Para otros asuntos


Close Panel