Five undiscovered museums in Bogotá: rethinking the museum

Undiscovered museums Bogotá - Central Cemetery

Museums are usually referred to as places where objects are reunited or displayed for visitors to observe and to learn about history, art or culture. This article will get you introduced to five places around the city that are unusual and not considered museums per se but are also very important to the memory of the city. This is a way to rethink the idea of the museum and why they, ultimately, can be seen as museums as well. 

Parque de la Independencia 

Undiscovered museums Bogotá - Parque de la Independencia
© Photograph by La Prensa Colombiana

This park, located in one of the most touristic areas in Bogota, on Calle 26 and Carrera 7, just beside the Planetarium, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Library and Plaza de Toros la Santamaría, has been a place with multiple transformations throughout the history of the city. In the year 1910, the park was created to celebrate Colombia’s centenary of independence with an exhibition that showed the most magnificent pavilions, all of them with a real European style. Four pavilions were built: the pavilion of arts and industry, the Egyptian pavilion, the machinery pavilion, and quiosco de la luz, all of them with the purpose of celebrating the beginning of a new and modern era. 

Nowadays, the only building that remains from that exhibition is quiosco de la luz, a small building which has a resemblance to the petit Trianon of Marie Antoinette. Inside this quiosco, were the machines that produced all of the energy for the whole exposition; and so, the light appeared as a symbol for modernity at the beginning of the century.

If you go to this park, you will find the recently restored quiosco de la luz, which is now a tourist information center. Do not miss this place that contains an important part of history as one of the unusual museums in Bogotá.

Central Cemetery of Bogotá

ementerio Central
© Photograph by Carlos Ortega y Rodrigo Sepúlveda. EL TIEMPO

The central cemetery was created in the year 1836, while Francisco de Paula Santander was president of Colombia and it’s the oldest cemetery in Bogotá. The Cemetery, located in the downtown area of the city, includes some of the most representative politicians, writers, and scientists, among other important characters of Colombian history, like the founder of Bavaria brewery, Leo Kopp, who came in the 19th century to open the first beer factory in Colombia. Also, you can visit the grave of one of the most notorious poets and writers of the 19th century: José Asunción Silva. It’s such an amazing place that reunites architecture, history and popular culture. 

There are many stories around the central Cemetery, regarding witchcraft among other popular practices. It’s a place that contains many different cultural aspects and currently, it’s being restored. If you want to visit this amazing museum, we recommend you contact a tour service as the cemetery does not offer any tours and the most common ones are at night. If you want to visit this place, we recommend you contact Strawberry Tours. The entrance is free and it’s open from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm; like all cemeteries, it might get lonely sometimes!

Plaza de Paloquemao 

© Photograph by Bogotá Global

Colombia has a really big diversity of fruits and vegetables, and all of them can be found in Paloquemao’s market place. For Colombia and all other Latin American cities as well, market places are part of the identity and the idiosyncrasy. The first markets in Colombia were started in the 19th century and they took place in Plaza de Bolivar. While the city was growing and expanding, through the years it became important to have different marketplaces distributed all around the city and nowadays, there are a few that are still active.  

The Plaza de Paloquemao was created in the year 1967, according to the designs of two recognized architects, Dicken Castro and Jacques Mosseri. The initial design wasn’t finished, leaving the whole structure unfinished. Paloquemao has a great variety of fruits, vegetables, butcher shops, flowers, different kinds of herbs, and restaurants too. It’s such a colorful place to visit and it’s really close to the downtown area of the city, which makes it easy to get there, but it’s way better if you go with a Colombian friend, so you can try typical Colombian food, maybe for breakfast or lunch. 

El Pasaje Hernández

Pasaje Hérnandez
© Photograph by CIVICO

This republican-style passage was built according to the designs of Gastón Lelarge and Arturo Jaramillo Concha at the end of the 19th century. It has two levels, distributed among seventeen commercial premises, each one with the pale blue color and doors and windows that are characteristic of the building itself.  It was one of the classiest buildings in the city, filled with shops that had the best and most elegant products around the city. 

We can still see the European style of the building, but it’s not considered as classy anymore, all of the businesses that were once a reference, are currently small businesses that sell all kinds of things, like coffee or tinto, empanadas, and clothes, among other products. Besides this, the main attraction of the Pasaje Hernandez is how it shows the elegant and sophisticated city that Bogotá used to be. When we enter this passage, we can feel the old city coming up, showing us how the past adapts to the contemporary aspects of a big city like Bogotá. If you want to do some shopping you will find a variety of products, especially handicrafts; the prices are  around $5,000-$50,000 ( $1.46 – $14.60 USD)

Teatro Faenza

Undiscovered museums Bogotá - Teatro Faenza
© Photograph by Pablo Fuerte on Flickr

This theatre is one of the oldest movie theatres in Bogotá. It was first opened to the public in the year  1924. Faenza theatre was built where a ceramic factory used to be. Its owner, José María Saiz, was interested in building a movie theatre and by the beginning of the 20th century, the industry of cinema was developing quickly, and all of the first theatres began to appear as well as the first Colombian movies. 

Nowadays it’s declared a National Monument of Colombia and was recently restored after being forgotten and abandoned in the 1970s, becoming a cultural and artistic center, bringing to life all of the details of a clear example of an art nouveau style building; a style that came all the way from Europe as a movement that influenced architecture, art and design, inspired by nature and its forms. It’s a great place to investigate the beginnings of movies in Colombia and to see one of the few examples we have in the architecture of the art nouveau style in Bogotá. If you want to know more about the history of the Faenza Theatre, you can visit their web page  

Do you want to know more about the history of undiscovered museums in Bogotá? There are a lot of places still to discover! Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on and social media for more information about the culture in  Bogotá.

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