Centro Medellin - Downtown Medellin

Centro Medellin is noisy, polluted, filled with a fair share of poverty and yet, it has a special charm.

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Even though it can be fairly congested and hotter than other higher, fresher parts of town, there are a number of things worth seeing in downtown Medellin.

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One thing, don´t flaunt camera, jewelry etc., in this part of town. Make sure your wallet is safe and take care - there can be pick pockets. Late at night, I would be particularly careful in this part of town.

Of particular interest in Centro Medellin are:

- Plaza Botero and the Botero Museum
- Parque de Berrío
- Hotel Nutibara
- Calle Junin
- El Hueco
- The wood & carpentry district
- Parque del Periodista
- El Centro Colombo Americano & Cafe Colombo
- Astor (Salón de Té)
- Versalles

VERSALLES (Tel: 511 9147)
Junin: Carrera 49 No. 53 39
(Downtown Medellin near Coltejer building)

An institution. Straight forward and very cheap Argentine & Chilean Empanadas, superb steaks, fries and green salads in a charming wood paneled setting that attracts the old intellectuals from Medellin.

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The waiters who have been there for a generation are the friendliest in town. One word of advice; this is in a part of downtown where you don't want to be flashing your Rolex around. Just use your common sense and avoid the area at night.

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Please do visit Versailles if you have a chance because it´s a unique experience and a good spot to relax if you are downtown. One of my favorite restaurants in Medellin.

Plaza Botero and the Botero Museum

The Plaza Botero is located next to the Botero museum and the nearest metro station is Parque Berrio. Arriving by metro gives an exciting view of that part of town, especially if coming from the North.

There are numerous street vendors and it tends to be fairly busy, but seems to have been cleaned up over the last years.

Hotel Nutibara

Past it´s days of glory and pretty much in the heart of Centro Medellin, the Hotel Nutibara, located just off Plaza Botero is a fascinating remnant of the past. The downstairs cafe just beyond the lobby is worthy of a coffee and to take in the style.

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Not that the hotel is in the best location of that I would necessarily recommend staying there, but to wonder around this part of town is fun. The Plaza Botero has sensational collection of statues donated by Fernando Botero himself. This, together with the Botero Museum, are essentially the main tourist attractions of Medellin.

Cafe Bettini

Carrera 42 # 52-79
Mon - Tues: 7:15am - 7pm
Sat: 7:15am - 1pm

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This little café is an oasis from the noise of the city. Not because it's withdrawn from downtown Medellin, but rather, because of the warmth and kindness of the Bettini sisters that work here.

They are specialists at preparing hot and cold coffees and offer delicious savory and sweet side orders; espresso coffee, cappucino, “granizado” (much like a frappe/ frozen frappucino), malts, juice and pastry.

Excellent presentation and quality, care with the details, clean, nice location and friendly service are factors that make this such an agreeable place. Perfect to take a break from the day or to have an exhuisite and fresh coffee after lunch.

Café Bettini's character that is friendly and personable make it inviting to come for a rest and to be welcomed by name.

Calle Junin (Juniniar)

CALLE JUNIN IN MEDELLIN (Junin Street - located downtown)

Centro Medellin has a street that has been at the the center of the cities development.

There, the Junin theater was founded in 1924, an urban happening, with a capacity of 4500 people that at the time, was the 7th largest theater in the world. 43 years later it was demolished and replaced by the Coltejer Building that now appears as one of the emblematic Antioquean tourist sites.Along the Junin is where a lot of retail sales take place in Medellin. Both formal and informal. The pedestrian section spans from “The Beach” (Literally, a road called La Playa: the beach) to the Bolivar Park, abounding with street stalls, selling snacks, traditional candy, fruits and flowers.

Throughout the street there are benches where you can relax and take in the color and vibrancy of the area. To walk the Junin, has become such a vital part of Medellin life that the name has long since been used a verb; it's said “let's go and Juniniar”. Nowadays, to go window shopping is to “Juniniar” in whatever part of town you might be.

To walk the street, is to experience the local flavor. It is a dense experience of the Paisa idiosyncrasy. You can take in old-school local cafes and restaurants like the Salones Astor (Astor Halls) or Versailles (Argentine favorite of mine), mixed in with newer shopping malls, bookstores, supermarkets, Herbarios (places to buy herbs), jewelry shops and warehouses. Here you will find “Prada” sunglasses for 2000 pesos (US$ 1), exotic birds and small turtles – you get the idea. It's a worthwhile experience and a rather hip one in many ways. Enjoy walking the Calle Junin.

Return from Centro Medellin to Medellin City

Return from Centro Medellin to Colombia Travel Guide

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