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Museo Nacional

Museo Nacional

www.museonacional.gov.co; Carrera 7 No 28-66; admission free Sun, Mon-Sat adult/student COP$2000/500; h10am-6pm Tue-Sat, to 5pm Sun) Housed in the expansive, Greek cross-shaped building called El Panóptico and designed as a prison by English architect Thomas Reed in 1874. Walking through the (more or less) chronological display of Colombia’s past, you pass iron-bar doors into white-walled halls. Signage is Spanish only, but each floor offers a few handy English placards you can take along with you for the highlights. The ground floor looks at pre-Columbian history, with rather oblique references to past groups and some gripping Muisca mummies that may date as far back as 1500 years. On the 3rd floor, room 16 gives the best sense of old prison life – with old cells now done up in various exhibits. The first on the right regards Jorge Gaitán, the populist leader whose 1948 assassination set off the Bogotazo violence – and coincidentally delayed the opening of this museum! Afterward, the lovely gardens have a nice glass Juan Valdéz cafe, and there are many good eating options on nearby Calle 29.

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