About Casa Museo Quinta de Bolivar
Casa Museo Quinta de Bolivar is a colonial era historic house museum which once belonged to the South American independence hero Simon Bolivar. It is located at the foot of Cerro de Monserrate in Bogota, Colombia.
History of Quinta de Bolivar
The site at Quinta de Bolivar dates back to 1670, when the conquistador Pedro de Valenzuela donated the land to the religious order at Monserrate. In 1800, the then chaplain sold the land to José Antonio Portocarrero, a Spanish merchant who had a country house (hacienda) built there.
The family owned the house until 1820, when the government of New Granada decided to give it to Simon Bolivar in gratitude for his services to the independence movement. He stayed there multiple times between 1820 and 1830: the house was a place of refuge from tense political situations and later his long term mistress and fellow revolutionary, Manuelita Sáenz, made sure the house also hosted lively social and political events. In 1830, Bolivar was forced to resign, and left Bogota for Cartagena, planning to set sail to exile in Europe from there: he died before he could set sail.
The house changed hands multiple times following Bolivar’s death, and was used as a private residence, brewery, tannery, psychiatric institution and girls’ school respectively. In 1919, organisations in Bogota set up a major fundraising campaign to buy the house as a national monument: they were successful, and the house became a museum focused around the life and work of Simon Bolivar and the 19th century independence movement.
In 1974, a guerilla from the M-19 movement stole Bolivar’s sword from the museum, leaving a note reading ‘Bolivar, your sword returns to the battlefield’. 27 years later, in 1991, the sword was returned to the museum as part of peace negotiations, and remains on display today.
Casa Museo Quinta de Bolivar today
Today, the house operates as a museum, housing just over 3000 items associated with Bolivar, and it is designed to be evocative of how it might have looked in Bolivar’s time: many of these objects have been donated since the museum was founded.
The museum also runs temporary special exhibitions, often exploring particular aspects of the revolutionary movement or Bolivar: these are worth exploring should you have the time.
Getting to Casa Museo Quinta de Bolivar
The museum is relatively easy to reach: it is located between the popular historic La Candelaria district and the bottom of Cerro de Monserrate, on Calle 21. The TransMilenio stop ‘Las Aguas’ is a short walk away, otherwise it is easily accessible on foot from La Candelaria or by taxi.