Bogotá, as well most of Colombia, is Catholic. You can tell that by the amount of churches that can be found in the city, every neighborhood has at least one church and Bogotá has over 5145 neighborhoods. Crazy, huh? That is why April’s first week in Bogotá is kind of a big deal, everyone knows what it is about and are synchronized for making plans, actually, from Thursday to Sunday everyone has the day free (that means not work or school) so they can work on saving their souls.
But Holy Week is not just about praying day and night, as a matter of fact most of the plans happen outside churches and people takes this time as a little vacation to visit their relatives or travel around the country… having a little fun is what makes our souls healthy! Bogotanos take this week very seriously so don’t be surprised if they already have planned what to do every single day.
This is a time of reflection and relaxation and as most people don’t have to work or attend school, is quite common to see big groups wandering on local parks, amusement parks, museums, even just walking down the street!
Here are a few things you definitely need to try from April 2 to April 6.
The classic: Climb up Monserrate!
Monserrate is the big hill you can see form almost every part of Bogotá. On the top there’s a beautiful, historical church (actually a sanctuary) you have to visit. It was declared as Basilica minor in 1956, a title that’s only given to a few churches around the world. This place is known for its beauty but also for the challenge it represents.
While you can take the funicular or cableway to get to the top of the hill, only the most courageous take the pedestrian path from bottom to top. For the Holy Week it is open from 5:00 am to 1:00 pm to get by foot, descending starts at 2:00pm and ends by 4:00pm, it doesn’t cost a cent.
Using alternative ways costs around 5.000 to 18.000 Colombian pesos, according your age and how many times do you wish to use the service.
You can find a variety of local food
on the road as well! Empanadas, arepas, morcilla, chorizo, chicharrón and all sorts of typical food are available for you to try as soon as you get to the top! Don’t miss traditional meals, they’re the perfect reward for all your hard work.
The non-religious yet spiritual: Yoga in the park!
Sunday is by far the most relaxing day of any week and the Jardín Botánico (Botanical Garden) opens its doors for those who want to practice the ways of balance body and soul. How much does it cost? Just the garden entrance, 2.700 Colombian pesos. Classes are given at Domo Herbal (Herbal Dome) and it’s recommended for you to take light breakfast before class, as well to wear comfy clothes and bring your own yoga mattress. Class starts at 9:00 am.
The musical: Bogotá is Mozart
From April 1st to 4th Bogotá is having over 60 classic concerts in memorial of Mozart. Several international musicians are invited to perform the most beautiful pieces in four days full of music and love for the traditional. 46 of the concerts are completely free and they’re going to be held in local theaters Julio Mario Santo Domingo, León de Greiff and several community centers.
You can look our previous blog entry about these concerts for more details.
Visit the frontier: Bogotá Outdoors
Among bogotanos is common to grab the car and visit those towns near the city, to get a bit of fresh air and taste the most delicious typical meals. Holy Week is the perfect time to try the outdoors and get adventurous. Be sure to visit:
Alpina’s cabin via Bogotá-Sopó (39km from Bogotá). Alpina is Colombia’s largest factory of desserts and milk-based products, and in this little (not so little) cabin you can shop every single product they sell. From arequipe to kumis, including cakes, chocolates and strawberries and cream among many, many other tasty things.
Piqueteaderos are a common type of restaurant, it is usually outdoors with a beautiful view of nature, mountains and hills; tables and chairs are made from old tree trunks and you can order a large variety of meats. Picadas (plates with mixed meats, potato, corn, plantains and arepas) are perfect for a family lunch and you can have them either with your favorite soda or some natural juice at a very reasonable price.