Thursday, July 24, 2008

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in Santa Marta

One of the highlights of our trip to Colombia was seeing the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in Santa Marta (a quinta is sort of a big farm in Spanish). The villa is the site where Simón Bolívar--known in Colombia as the Liberator--lived out his last days. For those of you who are not familiar with Bolívar, he holds a place in Colombian history somewhat akin to George Washington in the United States. The home is actually known as the "Sanctuary of the Motherland," and it has been well-preserved--by Colombian standards. The site is a gem that contains numerous artifacts from Bolívar's time and is definitely a must-see.

A shot of the family at the Villa. From left to right: My Father-in-Law, Fabio, Aunt Carmen, Me and Javier

The original building dates back to the 17th century. Since it was the last place Simón Bolívar lived, it has historical significance for the modern nations he liberated from Spain--Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. The main house is a Bolivarian museum that is worth seeing, though the preservation of many of the items is depressing (as a historian I wanted to cry when I saw such valuable original artifacts left to rot in the tropical heat and humidity).

A shot of the interior courtyard

The estate also houses a sugar mill, which has been more or less dismantled, although the outside of the structure is still lovely. One wonders why the government hasn't provided any funding for a proper restoration of the property, but then, this is Colombia we are talking about after all.

San Pedro Alejandrino Villa is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Be sure to get a guide! Our guide, Manuel, was amazing--he knew all about the history of the villa and gave us lots of time to take pictures, which is always a plus. Overall I was really impressed, despite my disappointment with the museum's lack of attention to historical preservation. Oh well, you can't have everything!


Melanie said...

Hia Margaret, catching up- being a hostess makes me busy!

No I haven't heard of Julia- I'll look out for it. It sounds a little like "Beaches" which was about the relationship between 2 women which I enjoyed.

What a beautiful looking place. I know how you feel- when I was on Rhodes I only had to bend down to see broken ancient Greek pottery. The rules were that you weren't allowed to remove anything even if the weather would spoil it and people would walk on it if it were in a pathway. It went against every bone in my body. I think sometimes cultural differences can be hard.

Were you allowed to take any internal shots?

Margaret said...

Irony of ironies, we were allowed to take photos inside, but without flash (to "protect" the objects inside, many of which were rotting, literally, or being eaten by bugs..). Unfortunately, the light was terrible so they didn't turn out.