Antioquia, Colombia

Antioquia is one of the nine states (or departments) of Colombia, the beautiful South American country. Its capital is the city of Mendellin, the second largest city in Colombia after Bogota, and, quite possibly, the most beautiful.

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Coat of arms, Antioquia, Colombia

Its name derives from Antioch, the Greek-Roman city. Its ruins today can be found near the city of Antakya in Turkey, very near the Turkish – Syrian border. Antioch was founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great’s generals.

I write this post because I still cannot figure out how a state in Colombia was named after a Greek-Roman city that very few Europeans would know today.

As it is natural in these cases, when the mind wanders about, there will be no theme or concrete topic for the reader to focus on. Instead I will just observe and note the items I encounter in a random walk through history, geography and culture.

Antioquia is a beautiful place, combining mountain ranges with coastal zones.

 

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Puente de Occidente, Santa Fe, Antioquia, Colombia

Santa Fe is a picturesque little town. Getting there you may cross the Puente de Occidente (Bridge of the West), with 291 meters of length. This suspension bridge, built in 1887 by the American educated Colombian engineer Jose Maria Villa, was the longest of its kind on the American continent at the time. You can see its location on the map below, marked with a green ellipse.

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Santa Fe, Antioquia, Colombia

 

As I was looking at the map, I noticed a locality named “Filadelfia”, and I marked it by a red ellipse. For the record, there is at least one more Filadelfia in Colombia, in the state south of Caldas, southwest of Antioquia.

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Santa Fe, Antioquia, Colombia

In 1813 Antioquia was declared a sovereign and independent state with Santa Fe as its capital, a status it maintained until 1826, when Medellín was chosen as the new departmental seat

 

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Salgar, Antioquia, Colombia

On 18 May 2015 a landslide occurred in La Libordiana region of Colombia. At around 3 a.m., the landslide went through the Salgar municipality in Antioquia state.The landslide occurred after days of rain in the mountains above the town.

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Recovery operations in Salgar, Antioquia

A survivor remarked: “People were just screaming everywhere, and I ran to help, but the river was impassable, and all the bridges were covered.”Another said “We ran outside to the road and went into the chapel, and the lights went out and we were in the dark. Then we looked with flashlights and saw that everything was gone.” The force of the landslide destroyed houses and ripped limbs from victims’ bodies.According to Salgar mayor Olga Eugenia Osorio, the town of Santa Margarita, one of four towns that lies within the Salgar municipality, was “erased from the map.

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Jerico, Antioquia

Jerico is a town in Antioquia, known as the “Athens of the Southwest” because its people promote cultural activities. It is also considered as the most beautiful town in Antioquia, because of its beautiful landscape.

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Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia: A housewife attending to her laundry with a public library in the background

But the indubitable star of Antioquia and Colombia is the city of Medellin.Rich and poor at the same time, the battlefield of the war of the Colombian State against the druglords, in the 21st century Medellin has been rejuvenated. The photo above shows a housewife attending to her laundry on the rooftop of her house. The neighborhood (barrio) is poor, but this has not prevented the construction of a modern library which we can see in the background. All of a sudden, there are other things to do in a poor neighborhood, there are options to the youngsters growing up.

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The most spectacular of the new public libraries of the rejuvenated Medellin is “Biblioteca Espana”, built in Santo Domingo. At the end of the 20th century, the northwest barrio of Santo Domingo, located in the 1st commune, was considered one of the most dangerous places in Latin America. As late as 2003, the people were not allowed to stay on the streets after 5 p.m. and the area was controlled at night by urban militias.

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Plaza Botero, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia

Fernando Botero, the sculptor and painter, is one of the sons of Medellin. A public plaza, has been created to honor him and to give to the public of the city a chance to enjoy art while taking a break.

 

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Fernando Botero: The death of Pablo Escobar, 1999

In 1999, 6 years after Escobar’s death, Botero painted “The death of Pablo Escobar”, who was another son of Medellin. In 1989, Pablo Escobar, one of the most notorious drug lords in history, was named by Forbes magazine as the seventh wealthiest man in the world, with an estimated fortune of $25 billion.

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Pablo Escobar’s grave in Medellin

Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993 by a Special Unit of the Colombian Police. He is burried in Medellin. From Escobar I now turn to FARC, the military force that has engaged the Colombian State in a bloody conflict for many decades now (since 1964).

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FARC soldiers in Antioquia

Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is a military group that has a marxist-leninist and anti-imperialist political platform. Negotiations to end the conflict have been going on for sometime now.

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Photograph: Luis Acosta

The good news is that in September 2015 at a meeting in Cuba, Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos (left), and Farc’s chief, Rodrigo Londoño (right) – known as Timochenko – said the two sides had agreed on a formula for transitional justice and to sign a final deal by March 2016.

Time to leave art, politics, drugs, nature, sightseeing, and go to grab a bite of food.

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Bandeja paisa

Bandeja paisa is a typical dish in Antioquia. It literally means the “platter of a person from the Paisa region”. It features red beans, eggs, rice, plantain, chorizo (sausage), chicherron (fried pork belly or pork rind), morcilla (black pudding), avocado and lemon.

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Arepas – Colombian corn cakes

Arepas, the Colombian corn cakes, are to be found everywhere. They are like bread for the Colombians and they thoroughly enjoy them. So it is only natural to have the good, and the bad. You try and find out.

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Mondongo is a tripe soup, that can be enjoyed all over Colombia.

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Apostol Beer, Colombia

Apostol is a Colombian microbrewerie that has been producing excellent beer since 2009.

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Aguardiente Antioqueno

Aguardiente, Colombia’s throat-burning anise-flavored national liquor is a must according to all travel writers.

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Coffee plantations in Antioquia, Colombia

All good meals end with a coffee, and I have had a really good one!

Coffee grows plenty in Antioquia.

Time to say goodbye, and prepare for the next visit.