Bogota Graffiti Tour: A City’s Stories Told Through Street Art
June 25, 2018
Bogota Graffiti Tour
Bogota is often a city forgotten by tourists in Colombia. The city is used by most as a simple and cost-effective way to enter the country from overseas. However, after Bailey and I got the chance to catch up with some friends from Bogota we decided to give the city a chance. We found a few amazing things to see and do including one very cool Bogota Graffiti Tour.
To many, the graffiti that covers the city’s walls are an eyesore. Many locals even want it to be removed. However, to some, it’s the only way to express the true feelings of the people and spread a message without censorship from the government. The tour, which is run by local artists, leaves nothing out and is a great thing to do when visiting Bogota!
Below you will find everything you need to know about the Bogota Graffiti Tour including what made me enjoy it so much!
What does the Bogota Graffiti tour cost?
The Bogota Graffiti Tour that I joined was free! However, it was a tip based tour and at the end, you could contribute what you though the tour was worth. If you want to know the recommended amount, well, that it is really up to you. To me, 20,000 – 50,000 Colombian pesos would be a great place to start.
Do I need to book the Tour?
To be honest I don’t know if it’s 100% necessary to book. When I did the tour i just showed up and was able to join, but just to be sure it doesn’t fill-up, you can book on the Bogota Graffiti Tour website here.
Where does the tour start from?
The Free Bogota Graffiti Tour starts from Parque de Los Periodistas near La Candelaria, at the large statue of Simon Bolivar in the middle. Here, you will meet with your guide and start the tour. Finding the guide is easy as you will most likely be approached by him or her or see the large group gathering.
The tours run twice daily at 10 am and 2 pm.
Is the tour only in English?
The free tour is in English, however, they do offer private tours in Spanish and German. This info is as per their website but when I did the tour the guide did explain many points in Spanish as well as english.
How long is the tour?
The tour lasts around 2.5 hours and takes you to many different murals and artwork around the area. The guide we had was really good at keeping the tour interesting and we even made a short stop for pizza!
Is graffiti illegal in Bogota?
In Bogota, street graffiti is decriminalized but that’s not to say the police don’t ever dish out their own types of punishment (but you’ll hear more about that in the tour). Most large murals around the city are legal as the artist will have received permission from the building’s owner. It is illegal to paint on somebody’s property without their permission.
In some cases, building owners approach artists and ask for them to paint their walls. This is common because having a well-done mural on your home or business prevents it from being painted with “tags.” Tags are a form of graffiti that is just words or a name of a person that is most often done illegally. If a beautiful mural is displayed on a wall then all graffiti artists respect that artist and do not paint over it with tags.
What I loved most
The artwork on Bogota’s walls is completed by artists with true talent. The pieces are simply beautiful to just look at. However, to me, it was the political and social motivation behind the art that truly told a story of the city and county that no other tour could. Instead of reading from history books we read from the walls of the city by deciphering images that represent some of Colombia’s biggest issues.
My favorite piece of artwork told a story about the sad deaths of thousands of homeless people killed by the army. Once killed, these harmless, poor men and women of the streets were dressed as soldiers from groups such as FARC (a far left-wing political organization) and handed into the government for a monetary reward. It is estimated that one in three of the opposing militia that were killed in exchange for the reward were actually just innocent people. It was stories like this that are told by the people through artwork on the city streets.
This tragedy is just one of the stories behind one piece of artwork on one wall, and as you venture further on the Bogota Graffiti Tour, many other stories are told!
What makes the Bogota Graffiti Tour so unique?
The art scene in Bogota is world class. The city is actually considered one of the top 10 in the world for street art. Bogota features artists from all around the world, who come here to paint with other local artists. Artists from all over Europe and the USA are featured on these walls and to them, painting in Bogota is a privilege.
Although the message behind the art is important it’s not the only reason this tour is both unique and awesome. With the local guide you can venture places you wouldn’t normally on your own and see a lot more of this city. You get great insight into a few other local restaurants and even one really cool and delicious pizza place! Along with that, you will spot pieces of art you wouldn’t on your own including one piece that uses a light post that sits a few meters from a wall to finish the piece!
Aside from visiting some good friends, the Bogota Graffiti Tour was my highlight of visiting Bogota. I found the history and stories behind the art extremely interesting, and well, the artwork is just plain amazing too! The tour caters to all types of travelers and in my opinion, has something for everyone to enjoy. It’s a great way to support young local artists and the best way to see another side of the city! I highly recommend joining the Bogota Graffiti Tour on your visit!