Friday, January 22, 2021

Footloose in Manizales (Colombia 07)

Room with a view: Manizales from the Varuna Hotel

We spent a few nights in Manizales. This is a fascinating town perched on a ridge-top, the capital of the Department of Caldas, and near the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. The ridge runs approximately east-west, and to the north and south, the mountain drops off steeply. How did anyone choose to build a town here at about 7,000 ft altitude? Was there dependable drinking water? 

Manizales aerial commuter tramway (Fuji Acros film, Leica M2 camera)
The roads are twisty and windy, really interesting. To save us from a seep mountain ascent and (uurp) car-sickness, our van left us at the bottom terminal of the Cable Aereo Manizales aerial tramway. Thousands of commuters use this daily to get to and from work or school. Most of us associate a tramway as having a bottom and a top station, as on a mountain resort, but this one has intermediate stations. Think of a subway where you can get off or on at any station you select, but instead you are up in the air.
Cable Aereo stations
View from the gondola (Jan. 25, 2019)
Tramways have operated in the city since the 1920s, but this one was built by Leitner Ropeways and inaugurated in 2009. In ten years, it has carried 30 million passengers. It can also carry victims of medical emergencies. Tramways are slowly becoming more common in hilly cities that have traffic problems (e.g., almost any modern city). Even Ankara has an aerial tram today.
Calle 26, Manizales
Calle 24, Manizales. Note the fellow on the scooter
I told you the side streets are steep. 
Carrera 23, Manizales
We walked along the main shopping street, Carrera 23, towards the cathedral. The place was packed with wall-to-wall people. Latin towns are like this at dusk; people are out forgathering, enjoying the end of the work day, and seeing and being seen.
Stores and sidewalk vendors sold all sorts of merchandise, clothing, electronics, foods, and drinks. No one paid any attention to us. "Oh, some more doofy tourists."
The neo-Gothic Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Nuestra Señora del Rosario dominates the Plaza de Bolívar downtown. It is an unusual reinforced concrete structure, begun in 1929 and completed in 1959. The height of 106m for the top of the tower places this cathedral in a ranking of tallest churches in the world. Unfortunately, it was too late in the day for us to climb up into the tower to the balcony. 
Who takes selfies in front of the cathedral? Answer, everyone. 

Dear Readers, this has been our short visit to Manizales. It is an interesting city with an innovative means to address the topography and traffic issues. On your next trip to Colombia, make a point to visit Manizales.

2 comments:

Suzassippi said...

I really enjoyed this series! The colors of the photographs are so entrancing.

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