Travelers coming to Bogota are advised to make a stop at the Museo Historico Policia to gain a greater understanding of contemporary Colombia.
Housed in an immaculately kept neoclassical palace dating back to the early 1920s, the Police Museum should be atop the list of things to do and see for all visitors coming to Bogota. Here, accompanied by an English or Spanish speaking police guide, you will trail from exhibition to exhibition learning more about the history of this fractured nation and its contemporary issues with special emphasis on Pablo Escobar’s demise.
Pablo Escobar in the Police Museum
Gunned down on a rooftop in his native Medellin in 1993, Pablo Escobar is, unfortunately, a name that springs to mind when the topic of “Colombia” arises in conversation. His legacy as the Colombian godfather of international cocaine smuggling has left the nation riddled with self-doubt and a history of extreme cruelty and savage violence. The exhibition detailing Escobar’s life and times is little different.
After viewing some more mundane exhibition halls with portraits of former police heroes, flags and international relics that were instruments of torture, you’ll be taken into Pablo Escobar section of the museum.
Housed here are Escobar’s gun, his leather jacket, a dummy of him alive and also dead and some particularly gruesome images. Police guides speak animatedly of the window opportunity that their counterparts in Medellin had to hunt and track down Escobar whilst he made a phone-call to his son. They also talk solemnly of the sicarios or child assassins, employed by drug cartels, not only that of Escobar, to raze down all opponents, enemies and be rewarded handsomely for each police officer felled. More than 600 policemen were to meet their end this way and one sixteen year old sicario was responsible for 32 of these.
Perhaps the most telling and interesting part of the tour is that of speaking to your guide as you’ll gain a firsthand account of where this conscript comes from, where he’s been stationed and what he’s seen.
In addition to the Escobar exhibit, which really is the museum’s selling point, you can see how the police force in Santa Fe de Bogota conducted business back in the early period of the 20th century as they have on display one of the old prison carts used for transporting criminals. Just imagine, there were but 12 horse-drawn prison carts in use in the city between 1912 and 1919. But then of course this necessity reflects the village size of Bogota back then when there were in the region of 125,000 inhabitants.
And before you leave, be sure to head out onto the rooftop viewpoint which allows for a good view of the invasiones of southern Bogota before heading back into the nearby attractions of the colonial Candelaria district.