What to Know About Barranquilla, Colombia

barranquilla

Colombia’s Carnaval City and Major Atlantic Port

Perhaps Barranquilla suffers somewhat on the tourist trail as a place to pass by en route to either the beautiful walled city of Cartagena or further along the coast towards Venezuela to the famed beaches of Santa Marta and Parque Tayrona. But as a vibrant Colombian city, Barranquilla has its own treasures both unknown and known.

Shakira’s Hometown

Shakira

As Colombia’s most important port on the Caribbean coast – with a population greater than 1 million – Barranquilla has become home to immigrants from far and wide and in particular a great number of Arabic descent. Colombian siren and songstress Shakira made public her devotion to her hometown of Barranquilla in her song, Hips Don’t Lie, with the contagious lyrics spoken over the beats “En Barranquilla se baila asi” or “In Barranquilla we dance like this.”

Carnival

barranquilla carnaval

Second only in size to Rio’s famous carnival celebrations, Barranquilla’s revelry is believed to remain a great deal closer to its cultural and mythical routes. Masks and costumes reveal the depths of the tradition and folkloric beliefs that make this Carnaval a true wonder to behold. Come and view people dressed up as the mythical Marimonda, watch the Batalla de Flores and gasp in awe at the beautiful Queen of the Carnaval.

This festival is probably the main driver of tourism today, and prices of accomodation can sky rocket. However, the experience and the craziness of the people and their energy is something you don’t want to miss.

Architecture

From the outset Barranquilla’s skyline offers little in the way creativity. The city is split into two parts, upper and lower and in the upper is where the tall modern buildings, shopping malls and compounds are situated. In the lower part of Barranquilla an urban sprawl of ramshackle buildings, warehouses and shantytowns spread out towards the coast.

The Prado

Despite it seemingly haphazard streets and modern constructions Barranquilla houses some eclectic treats for architecture buffs, most significantly El Prado. The barrio El Prado resembles in part a little portion of California with late Barque Spanish designs adorning tree-lined streets making this area on of the most desirable in the city.

Shopping

Probably the only place where you can see group of people since it’s so hot and humid out. Most people drive and never walk around the city, so you’ll most likely take a cab from point A to point B. Vast shopping malls are the mainstay here and have become the new town plazas in Barranquilla. People of all shapes and sizes congregate here, hardly ever to shop it seems, but rather to be seen and parade the latest fashions out of Miami or from the blossoming Barranquilla fashion scene.

Soccer

Soccer barranquilla

Barranquilla, as an influential port and expanding Colombian city has a strong footballing tradition and has turned out some great players over the years. When the Juniors (the city’s sports team) plays, you can see people wearing those red and white jerseys all over the city

Conclusion

Barrranquilla can be a hit or miss place. The aesthetics won’t lure you in to this city, but the people and their energy will. It’s a long drive (30-40 minutes) from the airport to the city, and that in itself is an adventure. Some taxi drivers will be playing their favorite music and drive like they are dancing. The people speak fast Spanish like most costal cities. The heat might be a turn off, but when you dive into their culture, you will see the magic of Barranquilla.