Capital Cities are usually the capital for a reason. Whether they’re located in Asia, the Americas, Australia, Europe or whichever continent in the world, they have something in common.
Technically this commonality is defined by wikipedia as:
A capital city is a city or town, specified by law or constitution, by the government of a country, or part of a country, such as a state, province or county. It usually serves as the location of the government’s central meeting place and offices.
So does this make them boring or interesting?
I’ve been to my fair share of of capital cities. It all started with the obligatory visit to Canberra, in grade five in primary school. Why? Because that’s roughly when we had to have some understanding on how Australian politics operated.
But I’m here to talk about Bogota. I’ve visited the place twice, but will say I have experienced it three times. Once with a local family, once as a tourist with my Australian parents and the third experience wasn’t in the city itself but a weekend trip away with rolos (people from Bogota) giving me a chance to see their attitude towards life. Surprisingly I found it was very different to a paisa perspective (someone from Medellin). So perhaps capital cities across the world have more in common to each other than cities in the same country?
The first time I went to Bogota was during Semana Santa, the one week everyone escapes the capital city. Why would you escape it? Being a capital city means there’s plenty to do, right? Yet it also represents work, commotion and fast-paced activity. So a visit to a smaller city or country-side town can be a welcoming escape.
However, over the course of both my visits, I made the most of my time. I visited Parque Metropolitano Simón Bolívar, the Gold Museum, Plaza Bolívar with its Palace of Justice, National Capitol, Lievano Palace and Primary Cathedral of Bogota, Monserrate and a few of the numerous shopping centres the city proudly boasts.
They’re the must-sees right -the government’s central meeting place and offices and the pretty sites of the city? But what type of people has this created?
With a little more than eight million people living in the city, it’s diverse. For one, this makes it hard to generalise. However, diversity creates a greater sense of acceptance. Many people seek out a capital city for its work opportunities. This attracts people from all backgrounds, so in order for them to live together, they need to accept one another.
In my out-of-city experience with rolos, I also felt this sense of acceptance. I’m not saying that people of other cities in Colombia aren’t empathetic, but I felt the rolos I met had a greater awareness of their place in the world. Being a capital city, generally attracts more tourists (probably hosting the primary airport for the country), it provides a range of opportunities and acts as a political door to the rest of the world.
During my first visit to the capital, I met people who had worked for the country in the military. Now retired, they were able to reap in the benefits of national service with various activities, discounts and events offered to them.
During my third experience, hanging out with other young people, I heard of their various travels, which was a little more extensive than what I had heard from Colombians located around the rest of the country. Seeing your own country from the perspective of another country definitely helps your own sense of awareness.
Obviously, they’re still Colombian, and that’s something that makes them unique. There’s still obleas sold on the street, a clear Spanish accent and a deep history uniting them. However, being a capital city it is a little more connected to the rest of the world, bringing in more international influence into its everyday life.