“Art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness.”
~ Anni Albers
Manizales is a city of approximately 500,000 people located high in the mountains above Colombia’s Eje Cafetero (coffee-growing region) in the west central part of the country. It’s known mainly for its many universities and colleges, its position as the business center for Colombia’s economically important coffee exports and for its steep hills–
heavy breathing here–
Manizales’ rather short list of attractions and cultural offerings can’t compete with those found in the capital Bogotá or Colombia’s second-city of Medellín. However, as I discovered on a recent visit, it does have a street art scene that–while smaller in scope–compares favorably with its bigger sisters in quality.
Most of the street art in Manizales is located either in the city center’s business and shopping area or in the Cable Tower nightlife and entertainment zone on Manizales’ main east-west drag of Santander Avenue (also known as Carrera 23). The Cable Tower area is comprised of the city’s largest universities which create an energetic street atmosphere that makes it a pleasant area for walking, people watching and viewing art.
The largest concentration of street paintings can be found along the route of Carrera 25 as it heads east of Calle 45 all the way to the main campus of the University of Caldas (Universidad de Caldas).
The city’s first settlers chose to build on the tops of several high mountain ridges, rather than settle in the valley’s below. As I trudged up and down the San Francisco-like hills (except they’re much higher in Manizales!) on a recent visit to this vertical city, I couldn’t help but question the founders’ choice of location.
But don’t let the steepness of the streets turn you off. The fabulous art found on retaining walls (remember those slopes?) and buildings, especially in the area around the University of Caldas, is well worth the effort!
Here’s a taste…