Medellin is Colombia’s second largest city with a population approaching 4 million people. Set within a valley in the Andes it sits at around 1,500 metres above sea level and as you approach the city you can see that nearly every part of the valley has been built upon, except for one green mound, deemed off limits as it’s an ancient burial ground.
The city’s temperate climate has earnt it the nickname as the ‘city of eternal spring’. However the city has a dark past, it’s association with Pablo Escobar and associated crime had previously caused it to be known as the most dangerous city in the world, but thankfully things are changing.
We took a tour across the city and were shown how investment in infrastructure, such as the new cable car system, has enabled those living on the fringes of the city in makeshift homes clinging high into the hillsides now benefit from much easier access to jobs across the city. This has transformed the lives of many living in these areas, but of course there is still work to be done.
We also visited Comuna 13, known only a few years ago as a no go area, with links to organised crime and even paramilitary groups. Further investment initiatives have transformed much of this area into what is now a major tourist attraction.
Six escalators now run up and down the hillside, removing the previous need to traverse 350+ steps into a manageable journey, however practical, you can’t help but feel it’s an odd thing to be riding an escalator here!
Apart from the views from this area back across Medellin city, this part of Comuna 13 is renowned for its excellent street art and street performers.
If you get the chance to go here, do take an organised tour to ensure you get the best experience.