Friday, January 2, 2009

The History of Medellin, Colombia

Medellin, Antioqia Colombia

The first time that the Spaniards saw the Valley of Aburrá was in 1541, when the officer Jerónimo Luis Tejelo arrived here by orders of the Marshal Jorge Robledo, who later founded the city of Antioquia. Given the fact that there was not gold neither silver, the Spaniards did not pay a lot of attention to the valley and they left at the request of the native Aburráes that inhabited what is today Medellín.

In 1616 the Colonial Judge and Visitor Francisco de Herrera Campuzano brought together Indians of various villages of the province of Antioquia, brought them to the valley of Aburrá and founded the town of San Lorenzo de Aburrá, in which today is the neighborhood El Poblado, which is not to be thought of as the origin of Medellín. The inhabitants of the valley conformed a dynamic colony, with dispersed inhabitants dedicated to agricultural works and cattle ranchers; the town of San Lorenzo decayed quickly while, in the remainder of the valley, its inhabitants were grouped in various places. One of them was the place of Aná, located near the current Administrative Center La Alpujarra, which Medellin's City Hall, the Governor’s Office and the Palace of Justice. In 1660 it included a church, a precarious urban plan and had a singular importance.

The neighbors of the city of Antioquia opposed to the idea that in the Valley of Aburrá a city was founded or even a village, because it would reduce its jurisdiction and its political control on the province, every day many of its neighbors were moving to the Valley of Aburrá, with better temperatures, abundance of water, and with a more dynamic communication with the Government of Popayán and routes to the Magdalena River.

Santa Fe, former capital of Antioquia

March 20, 1671 the New Village of the Valley of Aburrá of Our Lady of La Candelaria was erected, but the council members and the priest of the city of Antioquia managed to annul such erection. Nevertheless, some years later, November 2, 1675, a decree was issued that finally erectedthe Aná in the Village of Our Lady of La Candelaria of Medellín.

In 1813 Antioquia proclaimed its independence from Spain. By then, Antioquia included the cities of Santa Fe de Antioquia, Rionegro, Zaragoza, Cáceres, Remedios and the villages of Medellín and Marinilla. This last one was declared city by the dictator Juan del Corral in such year, given the commercial importance that it was acquiring because of being a forced stop on the routes toward the Magdalena River, the city of Popayán and the Atlantic coast. In spite of the opposition of the up till then capital of the province, Santa Fe de Antioquia, on April 17, 1826 Francisco de Paula Santander sanctioned the law that elevated Medellín to the category of capital of the province of Antioquia. But only toward 1870 did this tranquil town, surrounded by cattle ranches, experienced a significant economic boom as the supplier of food of the mining zones of Remedios, Zaragoza, and Cáceres and of the old capital Santa Fe and as center of marketing of coffee, result of the so-called Antioquian colonizationthat turned extensive uncultivated zones into cultivations of the coffee bean.

This economic boom gave a push to the incipient architectural and urban configuration of the capital, and to its cultural and social life, with the birth of companies dedicated to the arts and to the letters, aspect that stands out itself since, on the economic development and the cultural expressions would go hand by hand in which will be a mark inherent to the history of Medellín.

Pedro Justo Berrío (1827 – 1875), would begin to project the city as an economic and political center, beyond the environment of the local thing. By promoting infrastructure works and development, such as highways, the trolley, the banking and the railroad system. Precisely, in 1874 started one of the works that would mark great part of the recent history, not only of Medellín, but of all the region: the Railroad of Antioquia; besides, the city blossomed also as intellectual center that attracted writers and thinkers.

The paisas in Antioquia keeping traditions alive.

For all of the above mentioned, and in order to counteract its messy and unplanned growth, the Council of Medellín issued the Agreement 4 of 1890, referring to the blueprint that should be drawn for the future development of the city, that was not the first one since from late 18th century already two versions of the plan of the Village existed. In 1899 The Society of Public Improvements was created, that played a leading role in the development of the city and, further on, the Institute of Fine Arts was consolidated after being integrated with the painting atelier of Francisco Antonio Cano, author of the classical work Horizons, today reproduced in a great wall in the Plaza Cisneros.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Medellín, which at that time included some thousands of inhabitants, began to experience a radical transformation with the so-called industrialization, to which contributed the topography of mountains and abundance of water that was used for the generation of electricity, the proximity and location with relation to growing markets, the ability of the Antioquian as merchant and the sense of their leading class that, barely in 20th century, had the vision and constituted the Chamber of Commerce of Medellín.

The textile sector marked the start of industrialization in the Valley of Aburrá, but very quick they added other sectors as that of the glass, the footwear, the food of massive consumption and the iron and steel industry. Some businesses that were born just then were the National Company of Chocolates, Postobón, Coltejer, Fabricato, Colombian Company of Tobacco, National Factory of Crackers and Sweets –Noel-.

This process would be consolidated finally in the decade of 1930, with the doors opening policies for economic growth of presidents as Enrique Olaya Herrera and Alfonso López Pumarejo. Medellín took clear advantages of political alliances as to become the main industrial, economic and financial center of the country.

A picturesque view on a Sunday drive from Medellin, Colombia.

The cultural life of the city also contributed to its growth: here were born newspapers as El Espectador, considered the pioneer of the national press, and radio businesses such as CARACOL and RCN, and in the literary environment figures arose as Tomás Carrasquilla and groups as Los Panidas, with León de Greiff.

The city would continue being center of literary movements of significance as The “Nadaistas” (philosophers who focused on “nothingness”), that charmed and scandalized the country. Other cultural milestones in Medellín would mark it, such as the biennials of art, that approached the contemporary art to the common people, and further on the sculptural and pictorial work of Fernando Botero that would be recognized and admired in the entire world. Today, besides many cultural events of significance, in Medellín the International Festival of Poetry is carried out -Alternative Nobel Prize 2006-, that gathers poets and writers originating from several dozens of countries. After surpassing the crisis caused by the illegal drug trafficking in the decade of the 80s, Medellín recovered its traditional leadership. Today, after assuming the reintegration to the civil life of actors of violence, Medellín is presented before the world as model of peace and reconciliation.

A great example of this new push of the city was given by being the headquarters in March 2007 of the XIII Conference of the Association of Academies of Spanish Language of the whole world, that included the presence of the King and Queen of Spain. In this Conference the review was proposed in depth, the updating and the definition of the contemporary grammar of Spanish language, that outstands by the name of “Grammar of Medellín”.

Medellín is today identified by its noticeable fairs and events that year after year fill it with an encouraging air of vanguard; here are held the greatest fashion shows and fairs and the textile fairs Colombiatex and Colombiamoda, festivals of culture as the Book Festival, the International Festival of Poetry, International Tango Festival and the International Festival of Jazz, the Flowers Festivities and its Parade of “Silleteros” (peasants carrying heavy flower arrangements on their backs).

The Transformation of Medellin, Colombia.

The new city, the capital with unequaled climate along with its transformation, is ready to welcome you. The city’s museums, its new parks and streets, its malls, its theaters, its landmark tourist places like Cerro Nutibara, its old churches, and its visitor and convention centers are there to be enjoyed. For you to tour them, mingle with its people; infect yourself with their enthusiasm and optimism. The people in Medellin who are always eager to welcome you and offer you an unforgettable experience.

The great favorable, visible, and urban renewal to all its inhabitants and visitors, more than six local channels of television, the state-of-the-art modern Park-Libraries that approach the culture to zones of the city where before none of these opportunities existed, the great scientific development of Medellín, especially in the field of health, new universities and large opportunities of education for all its inhabitants, make of this a metropolis looking at the future with international projection.

Medellin a young city, from

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