Built on the city’s former transit center for both people and goods, Parque de las Luces (Park of Lights) may not be to everyone’s taste but is drawing the attention of an artistic crowd.
The square, decorated with concrete cylinders of “light”, is located next to the old and beautifully renovated train station, local and departmental government buildings, and the Medellin Public Companies (EPM) library.
Parque de las Luces, an initiative of former mayor Luis Perez, is unfortunately one of the city’s less secure parks and is locally infamous for its high rate of armed robberies.
However the park’s history is fascinating: it used to be the spot where tradesmen and farmers from the region unloaded fruits, vegetables and goods from their lorries, and all kinds of goods were delivered to the city by train. From that square everything was distributed to smaller markets and stores all over the city.
The square was also the first thing visitors saw when arriving by train.
As a result of the mass transit, the area around the square, now called “El Hueco” (The Hole), was full of cheap hotels and storage facilities like the classical Edificio Vasquez, which was built in 1906 and is now preserved as cultural heritage.
After the bankruptcy of Colombia’s railroad in the 1960s and the transfer of the wholesale market to the more strategically located “Mayorista” market in Itagui in the 1990s, the square became home to many thieves and drug addicts.
In counteraction to the park’s insecure situation, Perez decided to build the cylinders while local energy provider EPM built a beautiful library. Over the past few years police have been present during the day, but the park remains a no-go area in the evenings, after all government employees have gone home.