Do you like art? Do you like culture? Do you like history? Do you like finding hidden things in a new city? The Bogota Graffiti Tour combined all of these things for me!
Our guide, Ray, met us at the Plaza de Periodistas. This was only a couple of blocks away from the hostel I was staying at in La Calendaria neighborhood. The tour went from 10:15 to 12:30 and it was “free”. The guides work for tips so it is nice to tip 10,000 to 30,000 pesos per person.
The only thing I didn’t like about the tour is that there were about 30+ people. This made it difficult to get good shots of the street art because someone’s head/arm/camera was always in the way. It also made it difficult to hear the guide when you were about ten people away from him. Thankfully Ray has a loud voice!
The most interesting thing I learned on the tour is that Bogota is one of the safest places in the world for street artists. According to my guide, if the police catch you painting without permission they can give you a small fine that is equivalent to a to a parking ticket and doesn’t go on your record. More importantly artists simply have to ask the home or business owner for permission to paint on their building and then the police can’t do anything about it.
Recently, over the past couple of years the government has sponsored a lot of graffiti art to help remove the stigma of street art. Something they noticed is that high quality murals ward off the not so nice tags and random graffiti so building owners much prefer that a graffiti artists paints with permission than does a quick tag. So the government happily gives paint and money to some artists to do large, lasting pieces of art.
Now many artists are designing logos, menus, decor, and signs for businesses. Street art is becoming quite legitimate in Bogota!
Our guide also pointed out Saint Just as one of his favorite restaurants. My friend Rose and I went there after the tour and both of us left happy. She was able to enjoy a vegetarian quiche and salad while I had blood sausage, veggies, mashed potatoes, and a cup of wine. My meal was only 21,000 pesos!
Here are some pictures of my favorite pieces.
Have you been on a fabulous graffiti tour before? Where can I go to see more great graffiti art?!