Bolivar Bonanza: Five Places to Learn about El Liberator

Things to Do — By Lauren Quinn on June 18, 2010 at 11:21 pm

You won’t get far in Venezuela without hearing the name Bolivar. As the liberator from the Spanish and a national hero, Simon Bolivar is revered throughout the country—and especially in Caracas.

As the birthplace of the nation’s liberator, Caracas has a serious obsession with Bolivar. And there may be no better way to get in touch with the national psyche, and enjoy a good romp through history, than to tour the monuments and museums dedicated to Caracas’ favorite hometown boy.

Plaza Bolivar

The obvious start to any Caracas adventure is Plaza Bolivar, the historical and cultural heart of the city. Leafy and lined with African tulip trees and jacarandas, Plaza Bolivar is the site where the city was founded in 1567. Today, it is ground zero for spontaneous Chavista rallies, as well as more subdued activities like feeding squirrels.

Plaza Bolivar is also ringed by many important Caracas sites, including the colonial Catedral.

Casa Natal de El Liberator

It comes as no surprise that Bolivar’s birthplace has been turned into a national memorial. Built by Bolivar’s great-grandfather, some antiques and family memorabilia remain, though much of the colonial interior has been replaced. Exhibitions here are focused on war-related regalia: period weapons, banners and uniforms, and paintings of battle scenes.

El Panteon Nacional

An homage to illustrious Venezuelans, the entire central nave of El Paneton Nacional is dedicated to Bolivar, and for good reason: his tomb is located here. Take a pictorial walk through Bolivar’s life along the entrance to his tomb, where ceiling paintings by Tito Salas depict important moments in El Liberator’s life.

Museo Bolivariano

Independence memorabilia and period-perfect colonial restoration fill this ultimate tribute to Bolivar. A visit here not only serves as a crash course in Bolivar history, but immerses you in the struggles that have characterized the nation. Everything from personal belongings to wartime relics are on display. The museum is well maintained, making it one of the best Bolivar tributes in Caracas.

La Cuadra de Bolivar

Though now thoroughly integrated into the hustle and bustle of downtown, La Cuadra de Bolivar was once the country home of the Bolivar family, where the Liberator himself spent his summers. The grounds have been recreated to resemble the rural wonderland in which Bolivar frolicked. Admission free, the museum and grounds make for a great stroll—and help you to understand just why Bolivar loved Caracas so much.

Tags: historical sites, history, local culture