medellin_downtown

Medellin

Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia. It has over 3 million people and is the capital of the department of Antioquia. It’s set in a valley running south to north just under one hour by plane from Bogotá. In 2013 Medellin was awarded the Innovative City of the Year by The Wall Street Journal, outranking rivals New York and Tel Aviv
Recent History
Let’s just get it out of the way up front: throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Medellín was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world for its size, and had a highly disproportional homicide and kidnapping rate. It was the home of the drug lord Pablo Escobar and the so-called Medellín Cartel, who virtually took over the city during that time. Since his demise in the mid-1990’s, the cartel was disbanded and the city rebounded tremendously. In 1991 there were 6500 murders in the city, by 2009 the murder rate decreased to 2900 [83]. The rate of murders per 100.000 people has dropped from 184 in 2002 to 38 in 2013.

In April of 2014 the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning regarding Colombia; nevertheless, tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Colombia each year for tourism, business, university studies, and volunteer work. Security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, including in tourist and business travel destinations such as Bogota and Cartagena, but violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect some rural areas and parts of large cities. [85]. It is safe to say that the city is better off today than 20 years ago. Paisas, the residents of Medellin, are proud of their city’s progress, and are ready to move forward with vigor. Many parts of the city are very safe – especially el Poblado where you can walk day or night, including Calle 10.

Medellín is a vast city built north to south in the Aburrá valley and surrounded on either side by majestic mountain ranges. The wealthier classes live in the well-protected hillside neighborhood of El Poblado and Envigado (SouthEast) and Laureles (West and South of downtown). This is far removed from the action and commotion which are found in the city’s center. There are the busy markets and a thriving street life that make up much of the city’s charm. The city is home to a half-dozen universities, accounting for a vibrant cultural and nightlife scene fueled by thousands of young adults from all over the country. Medellín is also Colombia’s second largest industrial center, and home to factories making everything from designer clothing to trucks. The city’s northern hills are flooded with rural refugees from the ongoing civil war and their ingenuity in making a living is impressive. People sell anything from crayons to guinea pigs to garden earth in the bars in order to make a living.

As a relatively newer city, the architecture has a decidedly modernist appeal, which goes hand in hand with the progressiveness of its residents. Medellin also has the first (and only) Metro system in Colombia. And, for international travelers, Medellín is perhaps most famous for the Botero Museum, whose namesake is one of the most famous modern artist alive today. It is also known for its perfect climate, as witnessed by its nickname “city of the eternal spring”. Enough to make your trip worthy.

Traveler be aware: The best advice is to use common sense. Remember, common sense is the least common of all senses. As modern and picturesque as it may seem, listen to advice from the locals as to neighborhoods to stay out of.

Metropolitan Area
Medellín is surrounded by 8 smaller towns and together they form the Area Metropolitana with almost 3.5 million people. These other towns are: Bello, Itaguí, Sabaneta, La Estrella, Caldas, Copacabana, Girardota and Barbosa. The neighboring town of Envigado does not belong to this administrative association even though it is closer than many of the mentioned above. Medellín is a true conglomerate of towns and you will find it difficult to tell the borders between these municipalities. Located east of Medellín is the valley of Rionegro [86] which is larger and higher in the mountains. This area holds some of the most important factories, recreational grounds and suburbs of the city, as well as the International Airport.

Climate

The weather in Medellín is quite mild, and the city lives up to its reputation as the ‘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 to the equator there is little variation in the seasons. Due to its 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 sunshine.

As Medellín is located in a tropical country, the absence of air conditioners in Medellin often takes foreign visitors by surprise. Air conditioning is used in downtown areas. Cool air comes from the mountains surrounding Medellin on all sides, and provides Medellin with the perfect climate. At night the temperature is usually in the 10-15ºC (50-60ºF) range, and depends mostly on whether it is raining. The majority of restaurants are open air, without walls, because of the climate.
There is a new weather info page from the city of Medellín at [89].
GPS coordinates & Official Time
At the local airport Olaya Herrera the coordinates are Longitude -75,60 and Latitude 6,22. Altitude is 1.490 meters above sea level.

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