Medellín is the capital city of Antioquia, a province in Colombia (South America). Geographical location 6° 15′ North, 75° 36′ West. With a population of 2.1 million (3.2 million in the greater metropolitan area) it is the second largest city of Colombia and the first industrial center in the country.
The metropolitan area of Medellín lies within the Aburrá valley at an altitude of 1,538 meters and is bisected by the Medellín river which flows northward. North of the valley are the towns of Bello, Copacabana, Girardota and Barbosa. To the south of the valley lie Itagui, Envigado, Sabaneta, La Estrella and Caldas.
Through the history Medellín has received different names: Aburrá de los Yamesíes, San Lorenzo de Aburrá, San Lorenzo de Aná, Valle de San Bartolomé, Villa de la Candelaria de Medellín and Medellín. Originally the name of Medellín comes from “Metellium”, the ancient latin name for today’s town of Medellín, Extremadura in the province Badajoz, Spain. (“Metellium”, in turn, is derived from the name of the Roman founder of the city in 75 AD, Cecilio Metello.) The capital of Antioquia has received this name in honor to the earl of such Spain’s city, Pedro Portocarrero, who was the president of the Consejo de Indias of Spain by that time.
Besides being the industrial capital of Colombia, Medellín is usually called Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera (Everlasting Spring City), Capital de la Montaña (Mountain’s Capital), Ciudad de las Flores (City Of The Flowers), Capital de las Orquídeas (Orchids’ Capital), La Bella Villa (Beautiful Village) and Tacita de Plata (Little Silver Cup).
The weather in Medellín is quite mild it well deserves its common motto of ‘City of everlasting spring’. Average daily temperatures are 22ºC (71ºF) , range from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius (60º-85ºF). Humidity is comfortable in the 50%-70% range. Due to its proximity with the equator there is little variation with the seasons. Due to the altitude (1,500 Mts. or 5,000 feet above see level) and moderate overcast skies Medellin stays cool, with an occasional couple hours of strong sun light.
Most of the city of Medellín is built on a grid system. Carreras (streets) are abbreviated as Cr, Cra, K, kra or Crs and run parallel to the river from South to North. The calles (also streets) cross the Carreras and run from East to West. Calles are abbreviated as C, Cll or Cl. Avenidas, abbreviated as Av, are usually larger and main streets. The numerical system for the Avenidas is used but some have names that are more commonly used such as Avenida el Poblado or Avenida Oriental. There are a few streets calledTransversales which usually refer to wide Carreras atop the mountains in El Poblado neighborhood. The most famous are transversal Intermedia, Inferior and Superior. Along Laureles neighborhood you can also find Diagonales and Circulares.
Each address consists of a series of numbers, for example: Calle 50 # 65 – 8 which indicates that the building is on street 50 (Calle 50) 8 meters ahead from the intersection with street 65 (Carrera 65). The most central point, Parque de Berrio, is located by convention on the crossroads of Calle 50 and Carrera 50.
Timetables: Monday through Saturday from 4:30AM to 11PM. Sundays and holidays from 5AM to 10PM.
Frequency Peak hours: trains every 5 min, non-peak every 7 min.
Fare: single ride COP 2,000 for the year 2015 (includes Metrocable J and K transfers) The touristic Metrocable line L to Parque Arví costs COP 4,600, from 9AM to 6PM.
If you want to go around downtown or neighborhoods near the downtown area without using Taxis, try using the Circular Coonatra. There are various routes, marked on the front and back of the busses. These cost about COP 1,800 and require exact change.
TuriBus is a modern hop on/hop off bus that goes around the city showing its parks, attractive neighborhoods, and historical areas; it costs COP 35,000 for 1 day, COP 56,000 for 2 days. While they do not guarantee this, many times their guides also speak English and are happy to translate for you. Routes start at 9AM, ends 6PM.
- Pueblito Paisa is a reconstruction of a typical but tiny Antioquia village. It’s located on top of el Cerro Nutibara and has a pleasant view over the city. It’s within walking distance from the metrostation “Industriales,” but as the walk to the top requires hiking uphill for a while, visitors might find that a taxi ride is a smart choice.
- Los Alumbrados, the christmas lights decorating Medellin, make it the most beautiful Latin American city for the holidays. The lights stay put from the beginning of December to mid January. The most impressive parts are centered around the Rio Medellin at the ‘puente de Guayaquil’ and downtown. Large statues made of lights can be found throughout the city.
- The Metropolitan Cathedral, which holds the record as one of the buildings in the world with the most bricks -over 1’1 million-, located along the Bolivar park in the city heart. Cra 48 calle 56. Metro station Prado.
- Junin The Junin pedestrian street it’s a cobbledstone street in downtown area from Coltejer building to Bolivar’s park. Depicts the history of city with Astor tea salon and Versalles salon.
All pictures by the author
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