Wednesday, 23 August 2017

COLOMBIA: Bucaramanga Colombia's Beautiful City And A City of Parks

Bucaramanga is a medium sized city, home to nearly 1 million inhabitants, in all of the metropolitan area. It's a major commercial hub in northeastern Colombia, playing a significant role in trade between Colombia and Venezuela. It's not a huge touristic destination like Cartagena or Santa Marta but nonetheless it is surrounded by beautiful landscapes and ancient towns with a lot of history, which overall makes the visit to Bucaramanga worthwhile.

Bucaramanga is the capital city of the department of Santander, Colombia. Bucaramanga has the fifth largest economy by GDP in Colombia, has the lowest unemployment rate and has the ninth largest population in the country, with 521,857 people.Bucaramanga has over 160 parks scattered throughout the city and has been given the nickname "La Ciudad de Los Parques" or "The City of Parks" "La Ciudad Bonita de Colombia" or "Colombia's Beautiful City".

Bucaramanga has grown rapidly since the 1960s, mostly into neighboring locations within the metropolitan area. Floridablanca, Girón and Piedecuesta are inextricably linked geographically and commercially with Bucaramanga, and now all form together the Bucaramanga Metropolitan Area in Colombia with 1,141,671 inhabitants.

Most of the people in Bucaramanga speak Spanish only, and you will probably have a hard time trying to get addresses and other information from people on streets, but if you go to big hangout places like malls, parks or supermarkets, English speakers will certainly be found around.

The city is the base of the Colombian Petroleum Institute (ICP),the research branch of the state oil company Ecopetrol.

Bucaramanga is located on a plateau in the Cordillera Oriental of the Colombian Andes, and many residents occupy unstable lands descending steeply from the meseta. Westbound of it, the Rio de Oro Canyon is located at an altitude of 600 meters (2,000 ft) AMSL. Eastbound, the Andean Range rises up in high peaks, reaching almost 3,700m AMSL in the place locally known as "Paramo de Berlin" The city is located at 7°08′N 73°08′W.

The official metropolitan area includes the municipalities of: Girón, Piedecuesta and Floridablanca, but Lebrija is home to Bucaramanga's airport and is commonly considered part of greater Bucaramanga. All four neighboring municipalities contain extensive rural areas despite recent urbanization.

Under the Koppen climate classification, Bucaramanga features a tropical monsoon climate, though it’s a noticeably cooler version of the climate. The city falls just short of a tropical rainforest climate as its driest month, January, averages just under 60 mm (2 in) of rainfall. Although its altitude is not considered very high, Bucaramanga's climate is not hot nor cold with 22 degrees Celsius being the average temperature.

Compared to cities at the same average altitude (such as Cali), Bucaramanga has much cooler daytime temperatures due to the cold wind coming down the Eastern peaks; its night temperatures are not cold due to the warm air coming from the Canyon. This fact makes the daily thermal oscillation to be narrower than other Colombian cities.

According to the data obtained from the 2005 census and information provided by the Metropolitan Area of Bucaramanga, the city has an estimated population of 524,112 inhabitants.

Of the total population, 46.8% are men and 53.2% women. The average number of occupants per household is 3.6 people. 16.6% of people of the population are aged 10 years and over. Of all cohabiting couples in the city, 46.3% were single, 26.7% were married, 5.8% were separated and 4.6% were widowed. 9.2% of the population over age 4 who currently resides are from another municipality and 0.3% from another country.

In the city, 52.4% of people live in houses, while 40.4% live in apartments and 7.2% in a leased room or other.

An industrial activity developed in Bucaramanga that has gained national recognition is the footwear industry. For this reason, the Footwear Manufacturers' Association, Asoinducals, is located in the city. The footwear sector has a major market nationally and internationally in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Italy, some Caribbean islands, United States, Peru, Venezuela and Mexico.

There is also a big clothing industry. There are a growing number of technological research centers in various topics such as energy, gas, oil, corrosion, asphalt, leather and agro-industrial development tools, among others.

The city has the Chimita Industrial Zone located in the western area of the plateau near the town of Giron, many companies from different specialties like Terpel have production plants there. Also in the city, there's one of the main production plants of Bavaria Brewery. The city is planning to build the Zona Franca de Santander, a customs-free zone located within the metropolitan area of Bucaramanga.

The 2005 census conducted by the DANE presents the following figures, 16.5% of establishments are engaged in industrial activities, 52.1% are engaged in trade activities, 29.8% are engaged in the services sector and 1.6% are engaged in other activities. 3.7% of Bucaramanga's households develop an economic activity in their homes.

Establishments which have between 0 and 10 employees are the most common in the trade sector account for 54.4% of it. and business which have between 10 and 50 employees account for 41.7% of the services sector. As for the rural sector of the city, DANE figures showed that 75.9% of rural homes are occupied by farmers. Of these homes, 70.1% is devoted to agriculture, 94.1% to raise livestock, and 5.6 to fish farming. 5.6% work. These data concludes that most houses simultaneously develop 2 or 3 of these activities.

Thanks to the commercial and business development that has been taking over the city, Bucaramanga has positioned itself as a city of congresses and events, having infrastructure like Fair and Exhibition Centre - CENFER, many fairs and exhibitions in all branches of the national economic sectors are performed there annually .

The City also has a polyfunctional center for events and shows, which gives a space for performing great shows, puzzle games, sports and business. A number of meeting rooms and conferences allow Bucaramanga to hold conventions for entrepreneurs around the country.

The trade fairs as well as direct benefits to the respective sector, have benefits in other areas of the economy such as transport, hotels, restaurants, shops and various services activities such as advertising, design and decoration, modeling, etc.

The International Exhibition of Children's Fashion (EIMI) takes place in Bucaramanga. It is the only exhibition specialized in children's clothing in Latin America.The event is organized in the CENFER complex and 40% of the sales generated come from exported products.

In the recent years, several major shopping centers and commercial buildings have been built in Bucaramanga. Such is the case of the shopping center La Florida, a six storey mall with two pedestrian bridges and one vehicular bridge. A newer shopping center, Megamall, was built in 2007, where the first store of the French multinational retailer Carrefour opened in the city. In the following years, three more shopping centers were built in other areas of the city: Cacique, Parque Caracolí and De la Cuesta.

Another shopping district known as Cabecera del Llano includes five major shopping centers: Cabecera Etapa I, Etapa II and Etapa III as well as the more recognized Cabecera Etapa IV and the shopping center "La Quinta" or V Etapa.

The Acropolis Shopping Center is located in an area known as Ciudadela Real de Minas, while the San Andresito commercial center and the traditional and renovated (2005) Canaveral shopping center are located in the southern sector of the city along with the El Cacique shopping center, opened in November 2012 and considered one of the largest in Latin America.

In these shopping centers, there are several movie theaters of major companies such as Cine Colombia, Cine Royal and Cinemark, clothing stores like Adidas, Levi's, and national brands such as Arturo Calle, restaurants and cafes as Presto, El Corral, McDonald's, Crêpes & Waffles, Juan Valdez.

One of the largest hypermarket chains in Colombia, Exito, has five stores throughout the city and a distribution center for eastern Colombia. Carrefour opened in 2007 the first store at Megamall, merging later with a local supermarket named Mercadefam. The chain now has seven stores in the city. Along with this, there are local small chain stores in Bucaramanga such as Mercomfenalco, Cootracolta, Cajasan and others.

Historically the city of Bucaramanga has been one of the cities with the lowest rate of unemployment in the country. As of September 2010 according to DANE statistics between July and September 2010, the city had an unemployment rate of 11.8%, increasing by 3.3% compared to October and December 2009 which showed a rate of 8,5%;

Metrolinea' is the Integrated Mass Transit System of Bucaramanga. Its construction began in 2006 during the administration of Mayor Honorio Galvis; its operation is currently in its first phase.

Its first phase was inaugurated in December 22, 2009; in this phase, the first 6 lines inaugurated are: Avenida del Libertador (Diagonal 15), autocentral, Prospero Finch Avenue (27th Avenue), La Cumbre, Highway Floridablanca Villabel Bucarica and which have 91 stopways. The administration is currently in the process of coupling the second phase, which will cover the areas of Piedecuesta, Ciudadela Real de Minas, the Avenue of the Americas (Race 33) and will have trunks at Autosur, Real de Minas and the Americas.

Bucaramanga is connected to the mainland by two main routes. The first is the National Route 66 which comes from Barrancabermeja and Cucuta communicates with and then into Venezuela, the second the Ruta Nacional 45A that comes from Bogota and San Alberto comes up this road connects with the Colombian Caribbean region and major cities across the Ruta Nacional 45.

Palonegro Airport (BGA) is located about 45 minutes from town near Lebrija. Domestic flights include Bogotá, Medellín, Cúcuta, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Arauca and Yopal. Domestic airlines serving Bucaramanga are: Avianca, LAN, Satena, COPA, ADA. Also both low-cost carriers: Viva Colombia and EasyFly.

There is one daily flight to Panama City.

The city offers a clean, modern and nice bus station, called La Terminal from where you can take busses to almost any destination around Colombia; you can even take buses from here that will take you to Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador. There are frequent 10 hour buses from Bogota for prices starting from COP 40 000. Other common routes are from Armenia, Cartagena and Medellín. You can check available bus companies and departure times through redBus.

As any Colombian city, busetas cover Bucaramanga, making their irregular stops at just about any corner. Tickets around COP 1900.

Opened in December 2009, the new Metrolinea bus system rides by exclusive lanes making many trips faster and more comfortable. It is safe a clean.

Taxis are in plenty, and all run on meters. For added security take a note of the number plates, or even better: Request a cab by telephone..

The international and domestic airport serving Bucaramanga is the Palonegro International Airport, located on the hill of Palonegro, west of the metropolitan area and close to the town of Lebrija.

The airport opened in 1974, replacing the old airport Gómez Niño located in the Ciudadela Real de Minas. The airport currently operates under the administration of the Palonegro consortium Colombo-Korean SAS East Airports Group.There are daily flights from most major cities in Colombia, as well as international flights from the city of Panama.

In 2009, the Palonegro International Airport was ranked among Colombia's most important airports

There are plenty of things to sight seeing in Bucaramanga, starting from the east side via Cúcuta you can find nice and large balconies and enjoy a panoramic view of the city. The center of Bucaramanga, like any downtown in the world, gets really crowded on weekends and peak hours, however you can enjoy lots of bargains and sales in the shops, nice quality of clothes and shoes of course.

In the south of Bucaramanga you can find different resorts or clubs where you can play golf, futbol, swim, or just chill out with your friends.

Generally the most popular zone in Bucaramanga is Cabecera, this is the most modern area in the city with lots of malls and entertainment like cinemas, restaurants and shops.

Other attractions are:

Sagrada Familia Cathedral: The construction of this amazing cathedral started in 1985, when the land to build was bought. It's known that the parishioners financed the construction due to the humility of the starting agents and the poverty that left the One Thousand Days War. It's really an artwork.

Parque del Agua: It's a place where you can relax for a while with family or friends and you will admire fountains and some animals as birds and fishes. Most of the tourists coincide that the decoration in December is spectacular.

National Park of Chicamocha: The site is a tourist attraction due to is spectacular landscape and the variety of outdoor activities that it offers such as paragliding, spelunking, bushwalking, camping, fishing, kayaking, rafting, mountain climbing, etc.

- Visit the colonial town of Giron

- Visit Panachi (Chicamocha's National Park)

- Visit la Mesa de Los Santos

- Practice extreme sports rappel, kayak, paragliding, etc.

- Colombia Paragliding. Ruitoque is the best place in Colombia for both tandem and paragliding courses. Colombia paragliding is an Internationally qualified company offering the best and most qualified guides.

Visit the many shopping centers.

To buy shoes, there is not a better place than Bucaramanga, due to the many shoe factories the prices are inexpensive. Good leather and excellent manufacturing.

Traditional Santanderean dishes include:

Cabro : Goat meat.

Mute : A thick soup made with beans, corn, garbanzos, potatoes, various meats (including fresh pig feet, pork loin chops, beef spareribs).

Fritanga : If you don't mind some grease and fried food, you should try fritanga. It consists of an assortment of different kind of sausages, yuca, potatoes, corn, steak, and others, all deep-fried. You can find a traditional Fritanga market in the town of Giron located about 15 minutes from Bucaramanga.

Culonas : Short for Hormigas Culonas which literally translates 'big ass ants', is a traditional dish, found nowhere else in Colombia, and maybe around the world. The Culonas are 'leaf-cutter' ants (big ones!). Their heads, wings and legs are removed and the rest of the body is toasted and salted.

Caldo : It's a light soup. It contains water (of course, but sometimes milk is added), potatoes, cilantro (coriander), and tostados (traditional flat round toasted bread). Additionally it may contain rib meat (with bone) or 1 or 2 eggs. It's accompanied with Santanderean Arepa.

Don't forget to try all the fresh fruits you can find at either the traditional markets, or at the supermarkets. Pineapples from Lebrija,Located 35-40 minutes from Bucaramanga are famous for their size and sweetness. The best pineapples in the world, with only competition from the Hawaiian pineapples.

Oranges, tangerines and limes are traditional crops and can be found all year round,like most of the other fruits. Mango, Papaya, Watermelon, Maracuya (passion fruit), Guava, Curuba, Pitahaya, the list is very extensive.

Some of the most popular places to eat in Bucaramanga are:

- Desayunadero Tony

- Desayunadero El Viejo Chiflas

- Restaurante Mercagan

- Restaruante La Puerta del Sol

- Restaruante Shanghai

- Pizzeria Caracol

- Zirus Pizza

Albahaca, Cra.A very reasonably-priced vegetarian restaurant, serving salads, pastas, rice dishes, and vegetarian versions of Colombian dishes like bandeja paisa and ajiaco. Relies heavily on soy and wheat gluten to simply replace meat rather than presenting many innovative recipes, but still a unique high point for vegetarian visitors to the city.

Three mid/upscale concentrations of bars and clubs, all within a few minutes walk from one another:

- Parque Las Palmas (Calle 44 con Carrera 29)

- Calle 52 between Carreras 34 and 35

- Carreras 34 and 35 between Calles 47 and 48

- For more working class audience walk westwards along Carrera 33 from Calle 44.

Some of the popular places to hang out in Bucaramanga are:

- Mr. Babilla

- La Calle

- Babilonia

- Con Arte

- Saxo

- Fortyfour

- Giron Chill Out - Cocktail Bar y Restaurante Italiano


Hotel Asturias, Carrera 22, No. 35-01. Nice hotel with a pretty courtyard and clean rooms. Hot water, cable TV, free Wi-Fi. Single occupancy for 45,000. Some rooms have multiple beds, like dorms. Like the rest of Bucaramanga, prices are a bit higher than in neighboring cities, but this is one of the better places in an area with a wide range of hotels.

Fly Site Hostel (Colombia Paragliding), Km 2 via Mesa Ruitoque. Come to our fly-site hostal, right next to Las Aguilas launch in Ruitoque. A rustic cabana, 20 steps from a groomed, grassy launch. Wake up, eat breakfast and fly all day long. Thermal, XC in the morning and ridge soar all afternoon. Pilot’s dream come true! Top land in your house. Hammocks, fire pit, city views, and cafeteria service on weekends. 30.000.

Kasa Guane Bucaramanga (KGB), Calle 49 #28-21. Excellent location, shared kitchen. Dorms 20.000, single 35.000.

Dann (Dann Carlton), Calle 47 No. 28 - 83 (in Cabecera del Llano). Probably the nicest hotel in Bucaramanga, nice rooms, clean. Close to restaurants, bars and shopping, although in a quiet street. COP 220.000 when you pay 10 days in advance.

The new aerial cable is among the longest in the world. You can board in the neighboring towns of Mesa de los Santos or Panachi across the national park, it covers a fantastic view of a deep canyon.

On the road to Bogota are some excellent spots worth checking out, like the Chicamocha Canyon, the towns of San Gil, Socorro, Vélez and Barichara, among others.

Giron is a small and pretty colonial style town just about 10 km outside Bucaramanga.

Many important personalities from Colombia are from Bucaramanga such as Luis Carlos Galán, presidential candidate murdered in 1989, Carlos Ardila Lulle, one of the most important businessmen in Colombia, Claudia Florez and Ivan Garzón.

Colombian artist Oscar Rodríguez Naranjo came back from France during the Second World War and settled in Bucaramanga. Rodríguez Naranjo taught at the art school while he made a number of paintings that would build up his reputation in Colombia. In 1941 he became the Director of the Academia de Bellas Artes in Bucaramanga. Famous artist Margarita Velandia known by her work in city museum.

The city has a good reputation due to its numerous universities, among them: Industrial University of Santander (Universidad Industrial de Santander)

The Universidad Industrial de Santander is an official institution which offers 95 degrees and a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses within the health sciences, humanities, sciences and engineering colleges. Also it offers seven technological programs in different fields through the Distance Learning Institute.

Nowadays, after 65 years of existence, there are nearly 14,000 students registered in undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as a total 22,000 alumni. It proudly stands as the leading higher education institution in the northeastern part of the country and ranks fourth among official universities nationwide.

The University has created affiliate branches in Barrancabermeja - home of the most important oil refinery in the country, El Socorro and Malaga. Recently it has extended its services to Barranquilla and Bogotá through the offer of its Graduate Programs.

- Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga (UNAB) Autonomous University of Bucaramanga

- Universidad de Santander (UDES)

- Unidades Tecnológicas de Santander (UTS)

- Saint Thomas Aquinas University (Universidad Santo Tomás)

- Pontifical Bolivarian University (Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana)

Bucaramanga's culture has several expressions, from the visual arts such as painting, sculpture, photography, and recently also in experimental demonstrations that incorporate new technology for artistic communication, such as video. Throughout Bucaramanga's history it has hosted many cultural offerings in various areas, causing arts groups to form within the city.

One of the main pillars of culture in Bucaramanga is literature, as in the past there was a cultural movement around literature that produced a number of writers.

In 1995, the administration of Mayor Luis Fernando Peña Cote decided to convert Gabriel Turbay Public Library to hold the newly created Municipal Institute of Culture, assigning the library building to Gabriel Turbay, who has overseen space management for the institute, which has meant the movement of areas of the library to use the administrative area of the Municipal Institute of Culture.

The creation of the Municipal Institute of Culture was conceived in order to expand the possibilities for sponsoring culture in the metropolitan area. But as culture has not traditionally played a leading role in local government, colleges do not receive sufficient funding and incentives to fulfill their purposes.

The Institute provides library services, art workshops, and a variety of shows and cultural work from the different neighborhoods of the city. The city sponsors these cultural activities with private investment. Bucaramanga also features a cultural radio station (Station Cultural Luis Carlos Galan Sarmiento) on 100.7 FM.

Typical dishes from Bucaramanga include Santander-mute (a soup made from various grains and accompanied by various types of meat), fricassee, a preparation of viscera and goat blood mixed with white rice, roasted meat, arepa de maize pelado, and tamales.

Also popular are candied celery, lemon, citron, rice, caramel, and pineapple. Most are produced in neighboring Floridablanca. The Oblea a large, communion-like wafer and veleno bocadillo,a type of fudge made from pureed fruit or pressed caramel, or dulce de leche are examples of treats found in great quantity in Bucaramanga.

In Bucaramanga and neighboring municipalities can perform a variety of tourism, ecological tourism through its parks, adventure tourism Ruitoque table in 15 minutes from the city is the "Voladero the Eagles" where you can go Paragliding. The downtown area boasts colonial

Buildings like the churches of San Laureano, Dolores Chapel. Some houses such as the house of Bolivar, of Louis Peru de Lacroix. Other colonial buildings are located in the neighboring municipalities of the city. Bucaramanga tourist diversity earned him being chosen as one of the seven tourist destinations of national pride through a voting process that was convened by Colombia is passion and Bavaria.

Bucaramanga has a very good hotel infrastructure composed in part by some of the best hotel chains in the country. Several areas of the city center are important restaurants and nightclubs in the city.

Morrorico: Located east of Bucaramanga, the road to Cucuta, you can see a panorama of the city, here is the statue of Sacred Heart, which is visited at Easter time, and the inhabitants and parishioners sector have the belief that the statue does miracles. Also in this area is planned the construction of a cable car or cable metrocable called to transport the inhabitants of the sector.

Palonegro: On the road to the airport of the same name, where you can have a splendid view of the metropolitan area of Bucaramanga. in place encuentan whereabouts visited several nightclubs and especially on weekends.

'Chicamocha National Park' (PANACHI): on the road that leads to Bogota at the maximum height of the Cordillera Oriental in the municipality of ARATOCA, offers an exceptional view of the mighty river canyon Chicamocha, is equally Chicamocha National Park, from where you can appreciate at its best canons of rivers Chicamocha and Suarez.

Giron: Located 9 km of Bucaramanga. Founded in 1631, the gold mines were important during the colonial era of tremendous architectural heritage, which made it a national monument. Stands the Museum of Religious Art, with valuable paintings and ancient liturgical objects, The Basilica of the Lord of Miracles, pilgrimage site, and the Chapel of Corregidor, on the outskirts.

Socorro: Located 121 kilometres (75 miles) from Bucaramanga. Cradle of the uprising of the villagers, is located in the province Comunera, northeastern department of Santander. It was founded in 1681 and 1711 he was awarded the title of "Very Noble and Loyal Villa".

In 1781 Manuela Beltran broke the edict that raised taxes and contributions, which led to the revolt of the Communards. In the main square stand monuments to Jose Antonio Galan, leader of the uprising, and Antonia Santos. Other attractions are the house of culture and the cathedral.

Barichara: Located 118 km (73 mi) from the city of Bucaramanga. was founded by the Parra family Pradilla around the veneration of the Virgin of the Stone, in May 1975 the town received the title of "The cutest little town of Colombia" and by resolution 005 of 30 June 1975 was declared "National Monument". this village of cobblestone streets and wooden balconies is an oasis of peace, its attractions include:

Guane: colonial population home to a seventeenth-century church, the sanctuary of St. Lucia, and the Archaeological Museum, known for its important collection of marine life fossils and colonial period books.

San Gil: located 96 kilometers (60 mi) from Bucaramanga. The historic center of the town with steep streets and on the banks of the river Fonce National Monument. One of its main attractions is the park The Gallineral, occupying an island in the river, the moss hanging from the trees and the sound of water make it a must-visit site.

Other attractions are the San Gil Ragonessi ecological park, spa blue well, the Grotto Hill, Cerro de La Cruz and adventure sports like rafting, mountain climbing, mountain biking and motocross, among others.

Indersantander and Inderbu are the entities responsible for the management and development of local sport in Santander

Bucaramanga has the Estadio Alfonso Lopez, with a current capacity of 28,000 spectators and a star 2 Synthetic Turf. This stadium is the home of the local football teams Atlético Bucaramanga and Real Santander.

For other sports the city has the Vicente Diaz Romero coliseum, with a current capacity of 8,000 spectators. This stadium houses the basketball team Búcaros Santander.

Another sports complex in the city is the Edmundo Luna Santos Coliseum, located in the Ciudadela Real de Minas area.

In 2010 began the construction of the Alejandro Galvis Ramirez Bicentennial Coliseum for the Futsal World 2011, an event that was held in Colombia.

Bucaramanga has twice been the scene of the National Games in the year 1941 and 1996, headquarters of the Pan American Cycling Championships in the year 2000 Challenger ATP Seguros Bolivar Tennis in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The Colombian Football Association announced that Bucaramanga will be one of the venue cities to host the 2016 FIFA Futsal World

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