Plaza de Bolivar
A visit to the Plaza de Bolivar is one of the more historical things to do in Bogotá. Named after Simon Bolivar, who led Colombia to independence, a bronze statue of the military leader crowns the centre of the square. The square is surrounded on all sides by the city’s key political institutions: the house of the mayor, the house of congress and the house of the Supreme Court. On the south side is the Palacio Justitica, the house of Bogota’s Supreme Court; the Palacio is a modern building with a front made up of three large square arches, but no Colombian can look at it without remembering the two previous buildings that were destroyed before this one was built. The Palacio was first built in 1921 but a fire destroyed the building during the 1948 El Bogotazo (massive riots following the assassination of future presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitan). A new building was built but destroyed again in 1985 by guerrilla movement M-19 during the ‘Toma del Palacio del Justicia’ (Palace of Justice Siege), when the group took the supreme court hostage and killed 11 of the 25 Supreme Court Justices. The ruins of this second building stood for four years until this third (and hopefully final) version of the Palacio was built. Towards the south side of the square lies National Capitol, the seat of Colombian Congress; the building took 80 years build from 1946-1926 due to political instability, and although the original design by English architect Thomas Reed originally intended for the building to have a dome, the National Capitol remains domeless so as not to compete with Cathedral Prima’s tower. Finally, the Lievano building, which is Bogotá’s mayoral seat, sits on the West side of the square.