Barranquilla in Colombia hosts the prestigious title of American Capital of Culture 2013 this year. Colombia’s fourth largest city is most notable for its annual Carnaval de Barranquilla, which is just as lively and colourful as Rio! This port city is bursting with architectural gems, traditional culture and fascinating history and was added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2003.
In 2013 Barranquilla will also celebrate its bicentennial as an official city and will host special events throughout the year. The cosmopolitan city center will be buzzing in the nightlife, restaurant scene and network of historical buildings.
Enjoy the lively Barranquilla Carnival – 9-12 February 2013
One of the most famous events held in the city is the Barranquilla Carnival, which takes place during early March or late February every year. The carnival takes place exactly forty days prior to the Ash Wednesday and lasts for four days. This fun-filled celebration involves many events, such as concerts, parades, dances and other cultural activities that take place in all parts of town. The carnival allows tourists to interactively learn the culture of Barranquilla and mingle freely with the locals. This is one of the most exciting and interesting things to do in Barranquilla!
Soak up the local history
Barranquilla is blessed with many beautiful historical houses, such as Edificio de la Aduana, which hosts a museum and a library. The Teatro Amira de la Rosa is a modern theatre made of concrete block with a huge portico and gabled facade. It has 1,000 seats and hosts various cultural programs ranging from dance workshops, theatre, book readings, ballet, art exhibitions and music recitals.
Another must see place is the Museo del Caribe, which displays the Caribbean and Barranquilla history. This is one place that helps visitors gain a deeper insight about the Caribbean history by displaying native cultures, foods and ecology. The Plaza San Nicolas is a public place that is situated opposite the San Nicolas de Tolentino church. It portrays the fantastic architecture of the city in 1920s, where the locals prayed and carried out other commercial activities.
The Barranquilla Zoo boasts of being the best in South America with over 450 animals collected from five continents. These include chimpanzees, elephants, white tigers and various bird species. The Catedral Metropolitana Maria Reina is an amazing architectural piece of work where Roman Catholics worship the Blessed Virgin Mary Queen. Visitors can attend the daily or Sunday mass in this massive building that can hold 4,000 people.
Browse the local shops and markets
There are various shopping centers within Barranquilla that sell both international and local brands. The two largest shopping centers are Villa Country and Buenavista that are found in the north of Barranquilla. Unique artisan souvenirs are sold on the 46 avenue and the 72 street, where many kiosks stock these at an affordable price. The Artesanias de Colombia store sells more authentic souvenirs, but at a slightly higher price.
Try the local food and drink
Eating places in the city offer international and local cuisine. Visitors will be spoiled for a choice as local delicacies, such as sancocho de guandul, arroz con coco, sancocho, bocachico frito and fritos are found in most restaurants. Many restaurants located along the Magdalena River also offer sea food at an affordable price. They have a good ambiance and hospitality that makes eating out enjoyable. Restaurants in Barranquilla also offer international cuisine ranging from Italian, Thai, Lebanese and Arabic delicacies as well as pizza.
Experience the legendary Colombian party atmosphere
There are many places in the city where visitors can enjoy the local nightlife. Most nightclubs and bars are open throughout the year, so visitors can go out drinking and partying. Some famous spots include Frogg Leggs, AguaHelada, MoMa and Luna Negra among others. Aguila is a local beer sold in most bars and is quite affordable. Rum is a favourite spirit among the locals while Heineken is the preferred international brand.