Caracas, to the rhythm of salsa and merengue
The Andean peaks perennially covered with snow, the wild Amazon jungle and the endless white beaches fringed with palm trees: Venezuela is a country of sharp contrasts, amazing from the natural point of view, and the best time to visit is just that. In fact, despite the tropical climate that maintains a constant temperature throughout the year, the right time to take the plane and fly to South America is between December and April.
The point of arrival from Europe is almost always Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, which lies in a valley at 950 meters above sea level at the foot of Mount Avila and which is known as the city of eternal spring for its mild climate and mild. The first impact for the tourist is very strong, because of the chaos, traffic and pollution, but then Latin exuberance takes over and the visitor finds himself suddenly bewitched by a swirl of scents and colors.
The old colonial center not much, partly destroyed by the earthquakes of 1755 and 1812 and then gutted to make way for modern skyscrapers and ranchitos, the endless shantytowns that surround the city. The appearance of Caracas is therefore more akin to that of North American cities, so that boasts some of the boldest examples of modern architecture in South America, yet the city still retains a bit ‘of its old flavor in some neighborhoods, including those between La Bolsa, Altagracia, Maturin and Traposos.
The steps required for a visit to Caracas include a walk along Avenida Bolivar to reach the Iglesia de San Francisco and a lazy ride sull’aristocraticaEsquina El Conde to visit the Cathedral, which preserves valuable works of art, including where some important paintings by Rubens and Murillo.
Also the beautiful Iglesia Nuestra Senora de Altagracia and worthy of note is also the Casa Amarilla, important historical building in the city. The most central place and moved to Caracas is instead the Plaza Bolivar, the independence hero equestrian monument, which has always been a place of markets and bullfighting and even the most vital meeting point of the city. From here you can visit the Bolivar Museum, ilPalazzo Archbishop and the Consejo Municipal, and it’s off to beautiful walks along the pedestrian streets of the surroundings, a souvenir hunting in the local craft shops.
Do not miss the Ciudad Universitaria, now a little ‘overlooked but revolutionary in its kind architectural and adorned by stained glass of Leger and the Arp sculptures, Pantheon Nacional, which houses the tombs of Bolivar and Francisco de Miranda and the Museum Arte Colonial, with reconstructions of life in Caracas at the time of the Spanish and German colonization.
To relax and spend an unforgettable afternoon in the green you have to get lost in the city’s parks: the Parque Central, which is also an impressive achievement planner with its skyscrapers and the Parque del Este, 77 hectares of botanical heritage and wildlife, with sports facilities and leisure.
Just outside the center, in the north of Caracas, is instead the Park El Avila, reachable by cable car. On the way you can enjoy a unique landscape, which combines the natural beauty of the remains of forts that were used to defend the city from pirate raids.
At 300 km from Caracas, you can visit with a two-day marine park Morrocoy, one of the richest natural reserves in the Caribbean sea, populated by giant turtles and many other exotic animals.
But Caracas is also a city full of life and entertainment, unmistakable with its vendors and its quaint cafes. At night, with street musicians, Caribbean rhythms invade the streets of the center and it is impossible not to have fun, dancing till dawn to the rhythm of salsa and merengue. If you prefer jazz music can be heard at the Juan Sebastián Bar, one of the best clubs in the city, and to enjoy the night life you have to move in the districts of Las Mercedes, El Rosal, La Floreta and La Castellana, which are the most vibrant and more frequented. Always pay close attention, however, especially at night, because at Caracas assaults and minor offenses are increasing.
And finally, do not leave without having tasted the dishes typical of the Venezuelan cuisine that is very varied and rich in regional specialties. Among the typical snacks worth getting groped dall’arepa, a small corn pancake usually served as a side dish, but it is also often stuffed with cheese, beef, octopus, shrimp, sausage, eggs, lettuce, avocado or any other ingredient you can think of.