Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Churches, an Archaeological Museum, and a Military Museum

A stray dog sleeps VERY contentedly guarded by three soldiers in Candelaria.
Things are not working out for my planned trips for this trip. Today, I was supposed to take a free guided walking tour of the old Candelaria barrio of the City of Bogotá. I am certain the website said it was two hours and that it started at 3:00 p.m. I arrived at the scheduled meeting place at 2:55 p.m. (punctual me) only to find out that the walking tour started at 2:00 p.m. Well, at least it wasn't cancelled due to "low water."

So I decided to organize my own walking tour of Candelaria. And since it was Tuesday (martes) and not Monday (lunes), more should have been open. So I toured a few churches that were open, El Museo Arqueológico, and the Museo Militar. What do you want to see first? Iglesias? O museos?

Iglesia de La Candelaria
La Iglesia de La Candelaria was open. Let's go in and have a look-see.

View from the back of the church
The church was quite and generally simple, except for the very ornate alter. And the very detailed design on the ceiling in the alcove where you entered.

Ceiling of Iglesia de la Candelaria
 The prayer area off to the side also was quite ornate:

Off to the right when you enter
Even more impressive was the Templo de San Agustin, the Temple of St. Augustine.

Templo de San Agustin
Granted, from the exterior it did not look much, but from the inside ...

Interior views of Templo de San Agustin
It was much more impressive when viewed from the inside. The Templo de San Agustin was in an interesting neighborhood.

View from across Calle Siete
It is across the street from Casa de Nariño, the Colombian presidential palace.

Casa de Nariño
Entrance gate to Casa de Nariño
And that would explain the heavy police presence in the neighborhood.

Soldiers guarding the southern perimeter of Casa de Nariño along Carrera Siete
Which was even heavier at times.

Troop transport across the street from Casa de Nariño
And, for no particular reason, here's a picture of black dog sneaking through the fence to get into the battalion command for the Guardia Presidencial building behind the truck.

Dog squeezing through a fence
Upon exiting Templo de San Agustin, I could look up the street and see the beautiful Iglesia del Carmen.

Calle Siete
But, alas, it still was not open. So let's have a look-see at some of the museums.

El Museo Arqueológico, known as "Musa," is in a building called the Casa del Marqués de San Jorge in Candelaria.

Casa del Marqués de San Jorge
The museum is something of a companion to the world-renowned Museo del Oro on the other side of Candelaria. That museum is genuinely world class if for no other reason the sheer volume of gold and gold artifacts inside. I visited it in 2012. This museum? Pottery from the same civilizations whose gold artifacts are in the Museo del Oro. Ceramics < Gold. 

All that aside, the collection features some very interesting pieces:

He looks like he is having quite a good time now, doesn't he? But some of the pieces bordered on teh creepy:

Why do pots need faces on them? Although this one just looks like he needs a little love:

And, finally, this one looks like one of those possessed dolls that you would see in the 1970s in those "made-for-TV" horror movies, which usually starred Karen Black:

But the highlight of the day was the Museo Militar:

Soldiers guard the Museo Militar
It is a small museum that makes almost no concession to the fact that English is the international language of tourism. In other words, the displays are all in Spanish only. The soldiers manning the museum all speak Spanish only.

Interestingly, you did not have to pay to enter, but you did have to show I.D. First time in Colombia outside the airport or my hotel I have been asked to show identification. My passport was safely locked in the hotel safe, but my Nevada driver's license was sufficient to get in.

The courtyard had a lot of weaponry on display when you walk in.

Lots of uniform on display, too.

From the ancient to the more modern era, including this which was probably more from the era of Colombia's founding.

I have got no clue what this was or what it was supposed to be, but I think it looked cool.

The soldier who checked my identification tried to helpful, but language barrier and all.

He even posed for a picture in front of the weaponry.

At least he posed more respectfully than this one soldier. It was nice that one of the soldiers working museum duty posed for a picture with an elderly American tourist celebrating the day after his 55th birthday. But then the soldier had to pose in a way that would make every 10th grade boy in the USA extremely proud, ruining what could have been a very nice respectable, family-friendly photograph with said elderly tourist with his juvenile debauchery:

I mean, come on, he HAD to know the imagery that would result from posing for that photograph in precisely that spot. And if he didn't ... well, then it's even more freakin' hilarious. Best photo yet from Colombia, in my opinion.

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