Plaza de Bolivar - History and Facts | History Hit

Plaza de Bolivar

Bogotá, Colombia

Image Credit: Diego Grandi / Shutterstock

About Plaza de Bolivar

Located in the heart of La Candelaria in Bogota, Colombia, Plaza de Bolivar remains the beating heart of the city and is a great springboard for seeing sites in the surrounding area. At 149,650 square foot, this concrete space encapsulates many phases of Colombia’s turbulent history.

History of Plaza de Bolivar

Plaza de Bolivar is named after statue of Simon Bolivar in the centre of it. Cast in 1846 by the Italian artist Pietro Tenerani, the statue was Bogota’s first public monument. Simon Bolivar remains a key figure of historical importance in South America, and particularly in the northern countries of Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Nicknamed El Libertador (the Liberator), Bolivar led the modern day nations of Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, Bolivia and Peru to independence from the Spanish Empire: almost all these countries have major cities with Plaza de Bolivars in them in recognition of this fact.

The site was used by the Muisca, a pre-Hispanic civilisation, and it is thought they built several temples in the immediate area. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they chose the area to build a makeshift cathedral on the east side: the square itself became a spot for public celebrations for major cultural or religious events.

Plaza de Bolivar today

Several major municipal buildings are located around the square, including Palace of Justice on the north side of the square. Versions of this building have stood on the square since 1921: the original building was burnt down the El Bogotazo riots following the assassination of Jorge Gaitan, the leader of the Liberal Party at the time. It was rebuilt before being destroyed again in 1985 during a siege between guerrillas and the Colombian army. The new building was finished in 1998.

Bogota’s main cathedral now stands on the east side, a 19th century incarnation of previous buildings on the site. On the west side stands the Lievano Palace (Bogota’s city hall) and on the south is the National Capitol which houses both of Colombia’s national congresses.

Plaza de Bolivar remains an important site of protest, with major protests often starting or ending here. It is also a popular place for protesters to camp out.

Getting to Plaza de Bolivar

The Plaza is located in the heart of La Candelaria, the old heart of Bogota. It is extremely hard to miss: it lies between Calle 10 in the south and Calle 11 in the north and Carrera 7 and Carrera 8 in the east and west respectively.