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Caracas, Venezuela

13 Mar, 2009

Caracas, Venezuela

Caracas is the capital and biggest city in the Latin American country of Venezuela. The population of about 4 million makes the city the most populated center in the country as well. To tourists, Caracas is best known as a cultural center. The place is a living museum of modern art. Its importance in South America could never ever be underestimated.
The Venezuelan capital spreads along a high plateau, partitioned by the high green mountains from the sea. It presents an urban fabric, with numerous skyscrapers jumping out from low-rise buildings in the same manner as bars rise on a graph. The city is cosmopolitan and fast-paced, as well as progressive from more than 400 years of history distinctly buried beneath the popular glass and concrete structures and monuments. The oil-fueled affluence is strong, mixing with the signs of corrosion to mar the patina of modernism.
No other place in Venezuela contains much cultural activity as in Caracas. There are world-class museums and eclectic restaurants. Nightlife in the city is most attractive for clubbers, party animals, salsa aficionados and bar hoppers. The opportunity to mingle and rub shoulders with the city’s die-hard party goers is a must.
Commerce makes Caracas bustle. Thus, shopping is an outstanding vocation among inhabitants and tourists. You surely could not run tired of prowling the glitzy malls and the most sprawling street markets. To complement such attractions and more, there is a conducive and ideal sunny climate, frequently described as an ‘eternal summer,’ a natural exuberance pleasantly contrasting the urban fabric. Be mesmerized to see Frangipani bloom outside the urban jungle and hear the small frogs cheep from trees outside streets.
Despite obvious attractions, Caracas has a grittier side that predominates, prompting tourists to wonder more. The traffic could be relentless and the noise and trash could be unnerving. Shanties could be seen from the sides of the urban centers. Such sights provide bumps to the exhilarating and exciting tourism ride in this city. At the end of the day, the panoramic views and the cordial hospitality of locals still will predominate and cap the hours.

Geography

Caracas is situated along the northern portion of Venezuela. The place follows the contours of the Caracas Valley, a narrow strip along the national coastal mountain range. The site is nearby the Caribbean Sea. Guaire River is the main water body within the city, flowing across the land and emptying into the adjacent Tuy River. Pico El Avila is the most elevated location in the area.
In the middle of Caracas could be found the main airport, the Aeropuerto Internacional Simon Bolivar. The hub has two terminals: the international and the domestic. From the airport, tourists could easily tour around the city through cabs. Vacation hotels and inns are nearby.
Because of its geographic location, climate is predominantly intertropical. The warmest month is May, while the coldest is January. Tourists could worry less about hail storms as such weather disturbances rarely appear. On the other hand, electrical storms get more frequent from June to October because the city is an enclosed valley and is logically subject to Cerro El Avila’s orographic action.

History

The site of the city was originally inhabited by Toromaima Indians until Francisco Fajardo discovered the place in 1560. Fajardo, coming from the neighboring Margarita Island, established the first settlement and called it San Francisco. Since then, attempts to drive away indigenous population ensued. In 1561, Juan Rodriguez Suarez re-founded the city after the native people failed Fajardo’s initiatives. The new city was called Villa de San Francisco.
In 1567, the Venezuelan province governor commanded complete conquest of the area. The tribe was finally and completely defeated. The settlement was re-established the same year (July 25). It was then renamed as Santiago de Leon de Caracas. By 1577, the town became an administrative center and emerged as the third capital of the country.
Through the centuries that followed, Caracas further grew. When an oil reserve was discovered in 1914 within the Maracaibo basin, the city gained more prominence. The boom of the city came when global demand for oil burst in the 1970s. Because of oil money, the city of Caracas has turned to become a booming and modern capital of the country. Tourists from all over the world eventually took turns to get to know more about the city’s rich historical architecture, skyscrapers and natural panoramic wonders.

Tourism

Aside from the oil industry, tourism is no doubt an important sector in Caracas. Every year, thousands of tourists from all over the world come to observe and see the city’s wonders. Particular sites of interest abound and further lure more vacationers and travelers.
The Federal Capitol is one of the popular Caracas tourism sites. It occupies a city block with its attractive and golden domes as well as neoclassical pediments. National Pantheon is the country’s most venerated building. It was formerly a church and later converted into a final resting venue for eminent Venezuelans.
Want to journey back to history? Try visiting the colonial town of El Hatillo at the southeastern suburbs of the city. The surroundings of the old town give an explicit idea of how Caracas was like in the past centuries. On the other hand, Plaza Bolivar focuses on a similarly old town, mixed with modern tall buildings. At the heart of the plaza is the El Libretador monument, which was constructed as a tribute to hero Simon Bolivar. Across the city could also be found a number of parks, the largest being Avila National Park.
Tourists can get back to reality and enjoy modern Caracas. The city is also well noted for its exquisite restaurants and shopping centers. The quality of such establishments could par peers and counterparts from all over the world. Luxury is not a new concept in Caracas, you will see. Many iconic figures and celebrities come to pick and buy the best gold jewelries and clothes. Shoe products are also exceptional, the result of many Italian immigrations to Caracas in the 1950s.

Caracas, Venezuela

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