Friday, February 20, 2009

Plaza de Bolívar

Somebody told me: "Has you been at the Plaza de Bolívar today? There is a Campesinos' Market". So there I went walking down Calle 11 where I live. is located in the heart of the historical area of Bogotá. It has a statue of Simón Bolívar sculpted in 1846 by the Italian Pietro Tenerani, which was the first ever public monument in the city.

On the northern side of the square is the Palace of Justice, a big modern building where the Supreme Court works. The history of the Justice Palace is tragic enough and maybe symbolic of the problems of the nation. The first building was built in 1921 on the corner of the 11th and with 6th street and destroyed by a fire during the Bogotazo in April 1948. A new palace was built on the north side of the Bolívar Square and destroyed again in November 1985 by the guerrilla movement M-19 during the "Palace of Justice Siege", while the army tried to take control of the building. The ruins of the building were kept untouched for four years until the government decided to demolish them and construct the new building that currently exists.
Since its construction the square's been generally used to run public events of any kind: religious, army, students and political demostrations...and the campesinos's market. Once a month, peasants who reside outside the city come to this square to sell their products: meat, fruit, marmelade, hats, ponchos, music, herbs and flowers... and there is, obviously, a comunal meal in which everyone buys arepas, mazorcas, jugos, roast meat... and sit or walk around chatting with other peasants, children, turists, policemen, beggars, civil servants, students... 

The Square is an extraordinary place where people meet other people; where a sleepy street photographer walks around asking you to have your picture taken; dogs wandering around and pigeons pestering about too.After 5:30 pm I came back to the Plaza to see how grasp a glance of the place at sunset. Everyone has gone and slight rain has washed out any sign of the real comunal event that has happened there ealier on.

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