Posted by Toni Peters on Feb 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Usaquen: Bogota’s little town in the city

Colombia News - usaquen bogota

If you need rest and relaxation combined with a little exercise after a night out on the town in Bogota, the neighborhood of Usaquen is the perfect place for a Sunday morning stroll.

With pretty cobblestone streets, a beautiful church, a pleasant square and a flea market, the neighborhood is a refreshing change from Bogota’s monolithic malls.

Once a separate town, Usaquen was absorbed into the metropolis in the 1950s and is now a neighborhood with a small-town feel, which lies to the east of Carrera 7 between Calle 116 and Calle 127.

It is possible to take the tourist train from La Sabana station in the center of Bogota. But if arriving by road, the best reference point is Hacienda Santa Barbara mall on Carrera 7 with Calle 116. This shopping center has a colonial facade and fancy shops. The building is from the colonial era and part of the great house has been declared a national monument – but don’t stop here.

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Just north of the mall you will encounter a short road that will give you a taste of goods to be had further on, with vendors selling jewelry, crystals, handicrafts, and mochilas (traditional woven shoulder bags). But don’t stop here, either – head north along Carrera 6A.

If you are feeling peckish, a mother-daughter duo sell obleas (big round wafers) slathered with home-made arequipe (a kind of thick caramel) from their front room which opens to the street. There is also a funky little cafe called La Rosconeria which serves over 30 kinds of sweet and savory roscones (ring shaped pastries). They are gorgeously presented, so take a pic before you munch them down.

Keep heading north and you will pass El Cantante (The Singer), a restaurant serving typical local dishes with entertainment provided by a singing guitarist. The portions are ample and meals take a while because it is only polite to stop eating and applaud the singer at the end of every song.

To the east is the church of Santa Maria de Usaquen, where you can see works of art by Colombian maestro, Gregorio Vasquez.

You will probably see human statues of Neptune and Juan Valdez (Colombia’s iconic coffee cultivator) and then there are the vendors and their wonderful wares. Stalls run along Carrera 6A and have also taken over half of the car park on Carrera 5. The range of merchandise is incredible.

Here you can buy cushions in the shape of Nintendo characters, handbags and coasters made from vinyl records, leather garments, footwear, and accessories. Wallets, handbags and purses embellished with colorfully pattern fabric called mola, hammocks, carnivorous plants, Indian knick-nacks, blankets, films, natural cosmetics, watches… you get the idea. If you have time, it is worth going to the market two weeks in a row as some traders set up stall on alternate Sundays.

In the car park of Carrera 5 you can find a food court, of sorts. There are picnic tables and stands which offer, among other things, desserts and Mexican cuisine, and there is a man selling the most meticulously-measured churros (a bit like donuts in the form of short sticks) ever produced.

Another gem of Usaquen is Cinema Paraiso, a cinema which shows independent and mainstream films from Latin America and the rest of the world. Movie goers can get the drinks in before the curtain rises, and settle into the comfy over-sized seats.

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The story-tellers of La Plaza de Usaquen (Usaquen Square) get going at about 2PM and by dusk a sizable crowd gathers to listen to fairy tales and funny anecdotes. Wrap up warm and make sure you are sitting comfortably.

Added to this is the lush scenery of Bogota’s eastern mountains, and if you’re lucky a rainstorm and then a rainbow or two.

Usaquen is definitely worth a walkabout.

Where to find Usaquen

  • El Cantante, Callle 117 No 6 A -05
  • La Rosconeria. Pastelería, Cra 6A# 117-32.
  • Cinema Paraíso, Cr. 6 # 120 A – 56 Usaquen