La Candelaria’s origins go back to the 1530s, when Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, an Andalusian adventurer who some believe was the model for Cervantes’s Don Quixote, trekked through the Amazon rain forest and the high cordillera, losing almost all his men before arriving on a high plateau populated by Muisca Indians. Gonzalo Jiménez called his new possession the New City of Granada, which was later changed to Santa Fé de Bogotá, and finally just Bogotá.
Over the next century, the Spanish colonials laid out their city on a grid pattern that remains largely intact. Wide boulevards, called carreras, where the settlers once raced their horses, intersect a dozen narrow streets, or calles, many paved with uneven cobblestones. The calles rise toward verdant mountains, Guadalupe and Monserrate, both Catholic pilgrimage sites. As Bogotá expanded to the north, the original city became merely a neighborhood, and the name La Candelaria, taken from one of the first churches in Bogotá, Our Lady of the Candlemas, stuck.
If you want to take a word-tour of downtown courtesy of the NYT, click here.
Tourism has grown significantly over the last decade - Colombia's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT) reports that the country received more than 2.5 million foreign tourists in 2016, an annual increase of 13 percent and a ten-year increase of 250 percent.