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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Explore an Urban Renaissance in Medellín


3. What to Do

Museo de Antioquia (left) houses 108 paintings and 23 sculptures by Fernando Botero. The Orquideorama (right) at Jardín Botánico displays more than 5,000 Colombian orchids.   

Kick back at sunset with a bottle of anise-flavored aguardiente or churros and hot chocolate at the Parque Biblioteca España (Cl 107 and Cra K33B), a spectacular $4 million mixed outdoor space anchored by Giancarlo Mazzanti’s ultramodern library. Transformed in 2007 from what was once one of the city’s poorest and most violent hillside slums, the park offers expansive views of the twinkling lights of the city below.

Explore the greatest collection of work by Colombia’s most recognized artist, Fernando Botero, at the Museo de Antioquia ($3), directly across from a plaza adorned with a dozen of his sculptures of voluminous bodies with dwarfish features. The latest addition, The Death of Pablo Escobar, donated by Botero himself, depicts a larger-than-life version of the drug kingpin’s bullet-ridden downfall.

Spot the city’s architectural renaissance at the open-air Orquideorama, or orchid center, an otherworldly wooden structure designed by Medellín-based Plan B Architects that highlights the lush surroundings. It sits inside the Jardín Botánico (free admission), a 35-acre botanical garden that also holds a bamboo forest, lagoon, shops, and cafés.

Discover one of Colombians’ passions on a four-hour Underground Tango Tour ($100), which reveals that the city’s wealth of tango clubs is second only to those in Buenos Aires. The tour begins with a dance lesson, visits a shrine to famed tango dancer Carlos Gardel (who died in a plane crash here in 1935), and then explores offbeat clubs and dance studios hidden in places you’d never find on your own.

Published on Jan 6, 2011 as a web exclusive.

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