Plaza Bolívar, Bogotá
View of Bolívar Square
|Former name(s)||Plaza Mayor (1539–1821)|
Plaza de la Constitución (1821–1846)
|Area||1.3903 ha (3.436 acres)|
|Location||La Candelaria, Bogotá|
|Construction start||27 April 1539|
|Inauguration||20 July 1846|
(19 October 1995)
The Bolívar Square (Spanish: Plaza de Bolívar or Plaza Bolívar) is the main square of the Colombian capital Bogotá. The square, previously called Plaza Mayor until 1821 and Plaza de la Constitución, is located in the heart of the historical area of the city and hosts a statue of Simón Bolívar, sculpted in 1846 by the Italian Pietro Tenerani, which was the first public monument in the city.
The history of Bolívar Square dates back to the pre-Columbian era, when the site was part of the Muisca Confederation. The first building on the square, a primitive cathedral, was constructed in 1539, a year after the foundation of the Colombian capital. During the Spanish colonial period, Bolívar Square was the stage for circus acts, public markets and bullfights. The square is surrounded by historical buildings; the Palace of Justice is located on the northern edge and the National Capitol borders the square in the south. The Primary Cathedral of Bogotá and the Liévano Palace, seat of the mayor of Bogotá, are situated on the eastern and western side respectively.
Bolívar Square is a main tourist attraction in La Candelaria of Bogotá and the site for various manifestations and protests.
Bolívar Square is bordered by the streets Calle 10 in the south and Calle 11 in the north and Carrera 7 and Carrera 8 in the east and west respectively. The area is approximately 13,903 square metres (149,650 sq ft).
|North||Palace of Justice||
|East||Primary Cathedral of Bogotá||
completed in 1823
The history of Bolívar Square goes back to pre-Columbian times, when the area was inhabited by the Muisca. The indigenous Muisca, one of the four grand civilisations in the Americas, had an advanced knowledge of the solar and lunar cycles, represented in their complex lunisolar Muisca calendar. At various locations throughout their Muisca Confederation, the people constructed temples honouring their main deities; Sué, the Sun, and his consort Chía, the Moon.
Studies published about the Muisca astronomy in 2011 and 2017 by Julio Bonilla Romero, revealed that the Sun seen from the northeastern corner of Bolívar Square, at the June solstice rises exactly above Monserrate and at the December solstice above Guadalupe Hill. At the equinoxes of March and September, Sué rises from the valley between these two landmarks in the Eastern Hills of the city.
Conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, after defeating the last zipa of the southern Muisca Tisquesusa in 1537, founded the city of Bogotá on 6 August 1538. Two other main expeditions reached the newly founded capital of the New Kingdom of Granada in 1539; led by Nikolaus Federmann from the east and Sebastián de Belalcázar from the south. The Spanish conquistadors established the first cathedral of the city on the northeastern corner of the Plaza Mayor.
During the early colonial period, the square was the site of a pillory, where public punishments were conducted. Initially, the Plaza Mayor was a market square, where circus acts, civil, religious and cultural events, and until 1681 bullfights were held. In the same year, a fountain was built on the square. The first buildings were the primitive cathedral on the eastern side, followed by a three-story building constructed in 1545, two-story buildings on the northern and western edges for the principal merchants of the city in 1570, and between 1578 and 1582 the Real Audiencia building in the southwestern corner was built. In the southeastern corner of the square, the Mayor School of San Bartolomé, a secondary school institution, originally a university, was established by the Jesuits in 1604. The Holy Chapel was built at the end of the 17th century and the Viceroyalty Palace on the southeastern corner started construction in 1719 and was inaugurated in 1724. The Palace was completely burned down in 1776.
In the Vase House on the northeastern corner, now also known as the Museum of the 20th July, occurred the Call for Independence on 20 July 1810, the first independence attempt from the Spanish rule in Colombia. Camilo Torres Tenorio was executed on the square in 1816. The Bolívar Square was called Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Square) from 1821 onwards, until the placement of the statue honouring Simon Bolívar in 1846. The National Capitol on the southern side, the seat of the Colombian Congress, was initiated in 1846 but due to the political instability of the country it was not finished until 1926. The French-style building located on the western side of the square known as the Liévano Palace, was constructed between 1902 and 1905. As of 1974 it is the seat for the Mayor of Bogotá.
The Palace of Justice, a large international style building where the Supreme Court is housed, was first built in 1921 but was destroyed by a fire during the Bogotazo after the murder of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in April 1948. A new palace was built on the north side of the Bolívar Square, but was 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 until 1989, when the government decided to construct a third (and current) building on the location, of which construction started in 1998.
Bolívar Square was proposed national monument on 26 October 1994 and received that status on 19 October 1995.
Bolívar Square has a long history as site for various manifestations. In July 1947, more than 100,000 people protested during the night. During a protest in 2016, students camped on the square.
- (in Spanish) Lo que usted no conocía de la Plaza de Bolívar de Bogotá
- Ocampo López, 2007, p.226
- Bonilla Romero, 2011, p.9
- Bonilla Romero et al., 2017, p.153
- (in Spanish) Plaza de Bolívar – Colparques
- (in Spanish) Plaza de Bolívar
- (in Spanish) Capitolio Nacional
- Escovar, 2002, p.69
- (in Spanish) Palacio de Justicia
- (in Spanish) Decreto número 1802 de 1995 (octubre 19) – Declaración Monumento Nacional, Inmuebles representativos de la arquitectura moderna en Colombia
- (in Spanish) El día en que mataron a Gaitán – Banco de la República
- (in Spanish) Jóvenes acampan indefinidamente en Plaza de Bolívar para pedir que salven acuerdo con Farc – El Espectador
- Bonilla Romero, Julio H.; Edier H. Bustos Velazco, and Jaime Duvan Reyes. 2017. Arqueoastronomía, alineaciones solares de solsticios y equinoccios en Bogotá-Bacatá – Archaeoastronomy, alignment solar from solstices and equinoxes in Bogota-Bacatá. Revista Científica, Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas 27. 146-155. Accessed 2017-01-10.
- Bonilla Romero, Julio H. 2011. Aproximaciones al observatorio solar de Bacatá-Bogotá-Colombia – Approaches to solar observatory Bacatá-Bogotá-Colombia. Azimut, Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas 3. 9-15. Accessed 2017-01-10.
- Escovar, Alberto W.. 2002. Bogotá: Historic Center. Ediciones Gamma S.A.. Accessed 2017-01-10.
- Ocampo López, Javier. 2007. Grandes culturas indígenas de América – Great indigenous cultures of the Americas, 1–238. Plaza & Janes Editores Colombia S.A..
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