Plaza Botero in Medellin – the Sculptures of Fernando Botero
Plaza Botero is a sprawling park in the centre of downtown Medellin – featuring 23 weird, wonderful, and chonky sculptures by reknowned Colombian artist Fernando Botero.
The plaza is also home to the Museum of Antioquia and the Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture, but I particularly wanted to see these bronze homages to sensuality and form. Especially the dog with it’s tongue poking out, because omg…too cute.
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How to get to Plaza Botero
There’s a metro station right next to the plaza, so you can easily get there from anywhere else in Medellin. Take Line A and jump off at the Parque Berrio station. You can also catch public buses heading into the historic centre, or grab a taxi or Uber.
As we’re staying in Laureles, and love to torture ourselves with walking long distances to everywhere, we mapped out the route before leaving. It takes around 45 minutes from La 70 road in Laureles to Plaza Botero via Avenida San Juan. I’m currently travelling without a SIM card, so if you’re like me and don’t have wifi – allow extra time for getting lost on your way there.
Total walking for the day: 12.6km
Total buñuelos consumed: 1
Fernando Botero is a Colombian sculptor and figurative artist. Medellin is his home town. His signature style, Boterismo, consists of figures with large, exaggerated features that represent both political criticism and humor – depending on the subject. He is one of the most recognized artists from Latin America, and his works can also be found on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, and Park Avenue in New York.
Botero’s sculptures are collected by some of the world’s most luxurious museums in Paris, Madrid, and New York, and are highly sought after. The 23 sculptures in this plaza were donated to the city of Medellin by Botero himself in 2004 to commemorate the renovations of the neighbouring museum in the plaza.
They all have highly imaginative names such as “The Hand”, “The Woman”, and “Man on Horseback”.
There’s a local legend that says rubbing these chonky statues brings you good fortune – but most of them were covered in pigeon poop and sprawling street prostitutes. Your mileage may vary on the day.
Parque San Antonio
As with everywhere in Medellin, you’ll find some excellent street art when you’re wandering around. These are located in the Parque San Antonio, which houses several more of Botero’s sculptures, and is about 15 minute’s walk from Plaza Botero. This square was the scene of a horrific terrorist bombing in 1995, and is a significant place in Medellin’s recent history.
Behind the art, you can see red plastic chairs – which always means cheap, icy cold beer and micheladas. There are identical beer spots everywhere around the outskirts of the plaza, with competing volumes of Latino dance music at each one. So I wouldn’t call this a “relaxing” experience, but it’s great for people watching. Having said that, do actually watch the people (and your stuff) while you’re here, as it has a reputation for its skilled pickpockets.
Pajaro de Paz (Bird of Peace)
On June 10, 1995 a bomb (allegedly placed by guerilla group FARQ) was hidden in this sculpture and detonated during a music festival – killing 29 people and injuring hundreds more with shrapnel. In 2000, Fernando Botero had an identical sculpture erected in the park as his “homage to stupidity”.
The destroyed remains of the original statue – the “Pajaro de Paz (Bird of Peace)” sit next to its replacement as a reminder of the park’s violent history. It’s both a symbol of peace, and a memorial to the victims. In front of the statue, faded body-shaped outlines are painted on the concrete. It was an emotionally weighty place to be standing in.
Tours of Fernando Botero’s sculptures
There are plenty of tours that can guide you around the plazas and sculptures if you don’t want to visit alone. These are some recommended day tours of Medellin that include Plaza Botero in their itineraries.
Downtown Medellin is definitely a place worth exploring. If you read the internet reviews they will all say variations of “OMG don’t ever go here, it’s so dangerous” and “tourists should never visit this area on foot – get an Uber in, and Uber out again”. So obviously, we ignored all of this.
During our whole day trek to downtown, around the historic centre, and exploring the markets, and back again – we had zero problems. Like every other bustling city, be cautious and keep an eye on your bag, phone, and pockets, and you should be fine.
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