Flights to Medellin

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Medellín: A Constant Reinvention

Surrounded by the Andean Mountain Range in northwestern Colombia and with 2.5 million people (the second most populated city in the country), the capital of Antioquia has found culture and entrepreneurship to be the tools to carry out a definitive transformation.

Its thriving business ecosystem made it one of the most attractive investment destinations in Latin America, according to the FDI Intelligence division of the Financial Times. Furthermore, in 2017 Medellín was considered a 'Global Innovation Hub' by the 2ThinkNow Innovation Cities Index.

Around 170 companies from approximately 25 countries have come to its so-called Innovation District, and it comes as no surprise that six of the 100 most prosperous 'multilatina' companies in the region have been born in Medellín.

Every year, between July and August, the Flower Fair (Feria de las Flores) is celebrated: a traditional display of the culture of the Paisas—as the people from this region of the country are called—in which the Silleteros Parade is the main activity. At the Fair, the Antioquian peasants travel about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) carrying their colorful saddles (large structures covered with flowers that are worn on the back).

Parque de las luces Medellín

Color is also a protagonist at important textile fairs such as Colombiamoda and Colombiatex de las Américas, which confirm the city's historical role as the epicenter of the local design industry. The most recent edition of the Colombian Fashion Week brought together about 19,000 attendees.

Medellín is the home to 25 declared Cultural Patrimonies of the Nation and nearly 100 buildings of municipal cultural interest. The Museum of Modern Art (MAMM) displays works by renowned national artists such as Débora Arango, Adolfo Bernal, Adriana Duque or Alberto Uribe. Furthermore, at Plazoleta Botero, located in the center of the city, you can see the world's largest exhibition of open-air sculptures by acclaimed artist Fernando Botero, born on this land.

In the field of architecture, the Orquideorama, at the Botanical Garden, and the Explora Park were projects selected by the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York in a past edition of its art biennial. Indeed, the garden is a space to celebrate life and color; a place where the orchid—Colombia's national flower—grows and where creativity and words are also harvested, since each year it hosts the Festival del Libro y la Cultura, a book festival with about a hundred editorial presentations.

Medellín: The Guardian of Spring

More than a century after the adventures of the first Antioquian settlers, more than 70% of Medellín’s municipal territory remains green and is classified as 'rural land'. The Aburrá Valley, where the city is located, is a source of water, fauna and flora, and its periphery is still the home of the oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), an endangered species.

Protecting this ecosystem is not an easy task; which is why the city has understood the importance of working towards sustainable growth. A green belt to plan responsible growth, a road system that encourages the use of bicycles and the renovation of the Medellín River are some of the initiatives locals undertake to truly become the city of eternal spring.

The Green Belt

Panorámica de la ciudad de Medellín

This is the name of a strategy that was adopted in 2016 to control urban expansion in the Aburrá Valley. It has come to life through macro projects such as Jardín Circunvalar, Parques del Río, or the Innovation District Ruta N.

Architect Jorge Pérez, former director of the Administrative Department of Planning, explained at the time that the Belt's goal was to help create "A city that builds on the inner river corridors; that discourages the expansion towards the edges and the slopes; that favors pedestrians, bicycles and mass transportation systems (Metro, Metrocable, Tram and Metroplús)."

These efforts have been recognized with incentives such as the special mention of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Award in 2014 and 2016. Furthermore, the capital of Antioquia was recognized as one of the five most innovative cities in Latin America by 2ThinkNow, mainly for its Innovation District.

Rolling for Sustainability

Paseo en cicla por Medellín

Carlos Cadena Gaitán, researcher at United Nations University and member of independent movements such as La Ciudad Verde and Low Carbon City, said: "sustainable mobility should be understood as a strategy that seeks to promote a balance between the economic growth of the city, social equity, and long-term environmental protection."

That is why Medellín has reinforced its road network for cyclists with initiatives such as Encicla, the public bicycle program of the Metropolitan Area, which already has 48.6 kilometers (30.1 miles) of bike paths. On Sundays and Bank Holidays, ciclovías are enabled through road closures that allow the circulation of a larger number of cyclists. The use of bicycles is also encouraged through citizen groups such as the Fiesta de la Bici, SiCLas and Bellocicleta, among others.
 

Medellín: Always in Style

Fotografía, desfile en Medellín

A Noise Lab top and body, a matching Pura skirt and a pair of GoTwo tennis shoes. Then, a Ducky Black leather jacket and Innata accessories, with a Tigre de Salón bag. The idea of an urban style to be worn on any day in Medellín is promoted by Juanita Arcila, creative director and designer of Noise Lab.

The five brands she mentions reveal the vitality of local design. Young people like her, who don't stand in line to find what they want to have in their wardrobes: they design it and turn it into a business.

The fashion sector is thriving in Colombia, especially in Medellín. According to data from ProColombia, in 2017 Fashion System exports amounted to 921 million USD and represented 1.13% of GDP in that same year. For its part, Inexmoda, the institute that organizes the Colombiatex and Colombiamoda fairs in Medellín, points out that in 2017 clothing consumption reached $13.8 trillion and grew 6.2%.

In Medellín, fashion is in people’s DNA. Around a century ago, fashion began to take a stand with the birth of Colombia's most traditional textile companies, Coltejer and Fabricato, which opened the door to clothing companies that worked for the Antioquian and international markets.

The city has positioned itself in the Latin American scene and today employs nearly 600,000 people, promoting talents such as Luisa Nicholls or Andrés Pajón, national leaders in bridal design and luxury fashion.

Luisa’s brand specializes in brides. In 2010 she founded Especia, a brand targeted at the working woman willing to take risks; a family woman with a passion for fashion. The brand already has two stores in Medellín and one in Bogotá, in addition to its online shop. "For me it is very important to have grown up in Medellín, not only because of the fairs, but also because of the textile and supply production, and because the consumer believes in what we offer," she said.

According to Martha Calad, former director of Inexmoda's Fashion Lab, fashion "Made in Medellín" steals the limelight on the international stage, especially when it comes to bathing suits and lingerie, with brands like Leonisa, OndadeMar, Maaji and Agua Bendita, among others.

According to data from Raddar and Inexmoda, during January 2018 Medellín reported a total spending of $122 billion in the fashion and textile sector, the second most important in Colombia. Juanita Arcila, who has seen her brand grow, enthusiastically sums up this impact: "The fact that Medellín is on the map gives us a push to get recognition. Every day, more and more people are interested in what the city has to offer, and we must take advantage of this moment to deliver the best we have."

Where to go in Medellin

1. Medellín: The Bohemian Lifestyle

"La soyadera", as some describe life in Medellín, is an expression that can mean "uncomplicated gusto" and "informality". This lifestyle influences Medellín's rhythm and spirit, turning it into a mocking, fresh and happy city. Here are three ways to enjoy this lifestyle.

'Callejiar' in the City

Vista de Medellín bohemio

To go out for a walk in Medellín is called 'callejiar'. Paisas are used to doing it since their childhood, mainly by holding hands with their grandmothers, mothers and aunts. On Saturdays or during the evenings, 'callejiar' is almost a religious act: people go out to run errands, to go window-shopping, to buy, to discover new things.

You can begin with a tour through the urban gallery at the Northeastern Comuna, to see the local artists and their murals drawn in facades, cylinder heads and bridges. You can then make some memories by riding the Metrocable while listening to the murmur of the neighborhood beneath your feet.

The Belén Library Park is very close to carreras 80 and 76, right in the middle of one of the most popular areas in the city. In this place you can still feel a neighborhood vibe: the butcher still rushes orders and writes down in his account book, and the shopkeeper is also an amateur psychologist. There, surrounded by ordinary people, you can find one of the most interesting and recent public buildings in Medellín.

In this Library Park, designed by Japanese architect Hiroshi Naito, nature, water, wind and people are in harmony. Every detail conceived by the architect had the purpose of giving new life to an inclusive, democratic and contemporary area of ​​ social renewal.

This is how the place’s unique dynamic was created: here you will find community leaders gathering to talk about budget distribution in their area; members of the rap group Lírica Social (MTV award winners) rehearsing, and mothers who go with their young children to surf the Internet on public computers to do homework together.

This way, by meandering and discovering that other side of Medellín, somewhat hidden its visitors but very visible to the citizens who have seen its consolidation, you can also find another interesting urban project: the Bulevar de Castilla (La 68), located in the same neighborhood where the famous footballer René Higuita grew up; a place where it was almost mandatory to pray for and thank Saint Jude.

Given the lack of a park, a few years ago, the Mayor's Office of Medellín proposed to close a street on weekends during the nights so people could walk, have fun and enjoy themselves. As a result, at La 68 you can eat delicious food, listen to good music, dance to every song, shop, dream and fall in love.

2. Medellín's Library Parks:

These nine urban complexes devoted to recreation and knowledge, which began to be built in 2006, surround the city from its slopes and offer its citizens the chance to take part in a large offer of cultural activities.

Presbítero José Luis Arroyave - San Javier Library Park

Panorámica diurna parque biblioteca  en Medellín

In 2006, Comuna 13 (located in the west of the city) became the first zone to have a Library Park. Its wigs are meeting points to talk about poetry, enjoy short films or promote writing.

In this same sector you can take a graffiti tour: a historical and aesthetic walk that reveals the life stories of the community. To make the most of this experience, visitors must ascend 384 meters (1260 feet) through public and free escalators that lead to the top of Medellín's hillside.

León de Greiff - La Ladera Library Park

Panorámica diurna parque biblioteca  en Medellín

Its location allows you to observe Medellín almost in its entirety. A perfect view to photograph the city after touring its halls where events as diverse as dance shows, historical memory talks and yoga classes are held.

Belén Library Park

Panorámica al interior de una biblioteca  en Medellín
Its construction was in charge of Japanese architect Hiroshi Naito and the complex seeks to emulate the peace and tranquility of the Zen philosophy with its buildings, its water mirror and its gardens. This Library Park is known for its Japanese culture festival Hana Matsuri and for its oriental literature room.

3. A Bike Ride Around the City

Medellín transforms its public space to create a more inclusive and hospitable city through green corridors where you can ride a bicycle along its 45 kilometers (27.9 miles) of bike paths. According to the Ministry of Mobility of Medellín, 2% of the population in 2017 used this means of transportation and, by 2019, the amount is expected to grow by 4%.

Cerro Nutibara and Pueblito Paisa

Vista diurna de Pueblito Paisa en Medellín

Rising 80 meters (262 feet) above the city, the imposing mountain watches over Medellín and is considered a 'Holy Grail' by cyclists. The endurance test is to ride 1.25 kilometers (0.77 miles) uphill.

On Sundays, it connects with the city's ciclovía (streets adapted for the enjoyment of bicycle users) through the southern highway. The 'Pueblito' is a replica of the region’s traditional populations during the first decades of the twentieth century: it includes a central square, a canteen, a barber shop and stalls where you can buy handicrafts and typical sweets.

Parque de las Luces

Vista diurna del Parque de las luces en Medellín

You can either ask for Parque de las Luces or for Plaza de Cisneros, since both names correspond to the same place: a small square in front of the Medellín City Hall and the old railway station of Cisneros.

Its allure lies in the three hundred 24 meter high lamp posts that embellish the nights, and in the bamboo gardens that are mixed with water sources to create a forest inside the city. The station, located next to the park, was an icon of the Antioquia Railroad’s development.

Explora Park

Vista panorámica diurna del parque explora

A museum that promotes science and innovation through more than 300 interactive experiences spread across its halls. There are biology, physics and mathematics exhibitions, as well as a planetarium and an aquarium. Simply by crossing the street you can also access the Botanical Garden and the University of Antioquia.

Pies Descalzos Park

The main rule of the park is simple: take off your shoes to explore its sand, stone and water paths. A public space in the middle of the administrative area of La Alpujarra that invites visitors to connect with Antioquia's soil through their own bodies.

4. Cultural plans

Matacandelas Theater

Vista interna de Mata Candelas en Medellín

The curtain opened for the first time in 1979 for the Matacandelas Theater Collective. Located in the center of Medellín, in the last 39 years this artistic space has been both witness and protagonist of the city's evolution. With his 53 productions (12 of them puppet theater shows), and his most famous works, O marinheiro and Angelitos empantanados, the place has become an emblem of dramaturgy. This initiative 'made in Medellín' is also a stage to enjoy live music. Its end-of-the-year season features concerts by the Spanish artists Rupatrupa and Diego Ojeda, the Fiesta puppet show and a conversation club about the most emblematic western movies.

Location: Calle 47 # 43-47

Tip: If you visit Matacandelas Theater by bicycle, tickets have a special price of 9,000 COP. The normal rate is 20,000 COP

Pedro Nel Gómez House Museum

Vista interna de museo Pedronel Gomez en Medellín

Murals by Pedro Nel Gómez are scattered throughout the walls of Medellín. You can follow his footsteps at University of Antioquia, Piloto Public Library, Berrio Park, among other places. However, the largest exhibition is located in what used to be his home in the Aranjuez neighborhood: the Pedro Nel Gómez House Museum. There, the muralist's personal archive, his drafts and more than three thousand of his works are preserved. To visit this space is to peek into the most intimate aspects of his life and production, to know his motivations firsthand and to enjoy the story of the guides who explain the muralist's most iconic moments. You can visit from Monday to Saturday, from nine in the morning until five in the afternoon.

Location: Carrera 51b # 85-2

Tip: In case you want a guided tour (in Spanish or English), you must first call the House Museum to schedule it in advance.

 

Medellín's Museum of Modern Art (MAMM)

Vista de mamm en Medellín

The Museum of Modern Art in Medellín is located in a building that used to be a steel and metal foundry factory. For forty years, the MAMM has discussed the topic of the body and the city as political subjects represented by photography, video, painting, music, dance and technology. Its seven halls display art as an extrasensory experience and a matter of feelings, rather than a product of intellect. Eight temporary exhibitions, such as Politofonía by Alba Fernanda Triana (interactive music installations) or the joint work of 28 artists called La vuelta: a reflection on how Colombian photographic art has portrayed the armed conflict, feature the year-end program.

Location: Carrera 44 # 19A-100

Where to Eat

The sector of Las Palmas, in El Poblado neighborhood, is one of the gastronomic centers of the city. It's typical restaurants such as El Rancherito, Hatoviejo or Sancho Paisa follow the traditional recipe of the bandeja paisa. The Laureles sector is also a highlight, as it is one of the most exclusive areas of the city and its restaurants have a wider offer of Colombian and international dishes.

Paisa Flavors at Any Time of the Day

A gastronomic journey in which each moment of the day becomes an opportunity to taste Medellín's gastronomic diversity.

Breakfast at Salón Versalles

Founded 57 years ago in the center of Medellín, this restaurant offers a range of options from a continental breakfast (orange juice, coffee with milk, bagels, jam and butter), to a steak 'a caballo' (meat cut with two fried eggs on top). Here, trying the chocolate buñuelo (fried corn dough) is definitely a must.

A Morning Snack at Salón de Té Astor

Vista interna del Salon Teastor en Medellín

Mid-morning is "parva" time, which is how the people of Medellín call a snack between main meals. At the Astor you can try "parvas" like 'alfajores de arequipe' while you hear anecdotes from the Nadaists, a literary group from the 60s.

Lunch at Cazuelita's

Restaurante Cazuelitas en Medellín

One of Medellín’s most traditional dishes is the mondongo soup. Its main ingredient is one of the cow's stomachs (also known as tripe) and is considered a local delicacy. At Cazuelita’s you can try a typical Antioquian lunch, either the iconic mondongo soup or a bean casserole.

Onces at Urbania Café

Vista de lugar Urbania café en Medellín

The afternoon snack (or 'onces') in Medellín is accompanied by a cup of Colombian coffee. In this place you can have a 'tinto' (espresso) while you learn about the coffee industry and its processes.

Dinner at La Boutique de la Buena Mesa

Vista del restaurante La Boutique en Medellín

At the end of the day, visiting this restaurant in the heart of El Poblado neighborhood on Medellín's Golden Mile is a good choice. The Boutique is famous for its hand-made French cheeses accompanied by a range of wines from the south of France, as well as its supply of charcuterie, foie gras and duck confit.

Typical Dishes

Bandeja paisa

Bandeja paisa, plato típico de Medellín

beans, white rice, ground beef, fried pork, fried egg, patacón, chorizo, arepa paisa (made from ground corn), hogao (chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, oil and salt) and black pudding (rice and pork sausage cooked with coagulated blood).

Mazamorra

Comida típica, mazamorra en Medellín

A thick drink made from peeled corn, panela and sugar.

How to prepare it?

Antioquian mazamorra is considered one of Colombia’s traditional desserts, although in other regions it is prepared as a salty dish.


Ingredients for 4 Servings

  • 500 grams of corn
  • 4 cups water
  • A pinch of baking soda
  • Milk to taste
  • Bocadillo (guava paste) or grated panela to sweeten

Preparation:

  1. Allow the corn to soak overnight.
  2. Boil the corn in water for 20 minutes.
  3. When the corn is cooked (it should have a soft and spongy texture), add a pinch of baking soda. Let it cook for 10 more minutes, stirring constantly to remove the starch residue.
  4. Add milk and either panela or bocadillo and mix.
  5. Serve hot or cold.

A chef: Juan Manuel Barrientos

This chef, entrepreneur and peace leader born in Medellín is the creator and founder of the restaurant chain El Cielo. Barrientos is only 35 years old and has already been selected as one of the 50 best chefs in the region for three consecutive years, according to the 50 Best Latin America list. This 'paisa' has managed to revolutionize traditional cuisine with culinary innovations based on the ancestral roots of Colombian cuisine.

Events

December 2018

Christmas Lighting Route

For the past 51 years, Medellín has inaugurated the holiday season with its Christmas lighting, which in 2011 was named one of the best in the world, according to the National Geographic. A team of 162 people, among which there are 94 artisans, builds about 6,000 figures that can be seen in Parque Norte, Avenida La Playa and in the main parks within Medellín's five zones: San Sebastián de Palmitas, San Cristóbal, San Antonio de Prado, Santa Elena and Altavista.

From December 7th

January 2019

Colombiatex de las Américas 2019

This is the most important textile business fair in Latin America. It brings together the sectors involved in fashion's entire creative and business process. In its 2019 edition, the theme will be 'Conecta saberes' (Connecting wisdom): a dialogue between the attendees aimed to learn from experiences and analyze the challenges posed by the industry.

January 22nd, 23rd and 24th
Plaza Mayor

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Relevant Data

Airport

José María Cordova International Airport (Rionegro)

Language

Spanish

Currency

Colombian Peso

Average temperature

21.6 ºC

Metro

Monday to Saturday: 4:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday: 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Cable Arví

Tuesday to Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sundays and Bank Holidays: 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. * Closed on Mondays Arví cable costs 5,500 COP (1.73 USD) per trip.

Taxi

Minimum rate: 5,400 COP (1.70 USD). Rate to the international airport: 70,000 COP (22,06 USD), turnpike fare included.