Visit Colombia’s Third City
Colombia’s third city and the world capital of salsa entices tourists into its balmy climes to enjoy late nights, fine dining and an impressive arts scene.
Cali, geographically important as the industrial powerhouse in Colombia’s southwest state of Valle del Cauca, is an attractive prospect for any potential visitor planning on visiting the pacific coast or making journey to or from Ecuador overland. Cali is gradually realizing its potential as a tourist destination not least in the cultural attractions and nightlife within the city but the variety of options that make for pleasant day trips.
History and Contemporary Facts
Founded in 1536 by Sebastian de Belalcazar who also founded Quito in Ecuador, Cali has always been strategically important for trade and therefore grew quickly. As with most Colombian cities Santiago de Cali played an important part on the road to independence. In the 1980’s the city played home to the Cali cartel, one of the most notorious cocaine mafias.
Watched over by the statue of the Cristo Rey and the Tres Cruces, Cali is blessed with fine weather, salsa mad inhabitants, beautiful women and a plethora of fashionable barrios whose boutiques and restaurants would not look out of place in Los Angeles or Miami.
Where to Eat
For those with no budgetary constraints they are advised to head to the upmarket barrios of Granada or El Penon where they can feast on gastronomical wonders in fashionable establishments. Granada is an area of ten blocks that oozes style and substance. Whatever the case do not miss out on the opportunity to dine on the exquisite piangua clam harvested from the roots of mangroves on the pacific coast or the delights of Vallecaucano cuisine. Another option is the barrio San Fernando and the environs of the Parque del Perro where a new dining area has sprung up.
To enjoy exhibitions of Pre-Colombian artefacts then head to the Museo Arqueologico La Merced. Also in this district are a number of other worthwhile museums including the Museo de Oro Calima, Museo Religioso y Colonial San Francisco and not far from the towering Hotel Intercontinental is the recommended Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia.
The colonial barrio of San Antonio can be visited in an afternoon. Head up through the quaint streets before lunch to take advantage of the midday deals before wandering to the leafy hillside park frequented by necking couples. The San Antonio chapel is located at the top of the park and was completed in 1747. Inside there is an ornate baroque altar. Take a breather here at the top of the hill and rest in the shade and admire the views of the city sprawling out before you before lunching at one of the arty cafes and restaurants located here.
The authorities of Cali zoo have focused on the preservation and conservation of species endemic to the region and the aviary is particularly worthwhile allowing visitors to get up close and personal for photographing rare species like the cock of the rock.
For further information visit the Centro Cultural de Informacion on Carrera 5 with Calle 6 downtown.