The heart of La Candelaria is the Plaza de Bolívar, awhirl with street vendors, llamas, pigeons and visitors; in the evenings, street-food carts set up shop by the cathedral. A pigeon-defiled statue of El Libertadór himself stands in the centre of the square, surrounded by monumental buildings in disparate architectural styles spanning more than four centuries, most covered with political graffiti.
On the west side of the cathedral stands the Neoclassical Capitol, where the Congress meets, with its imposing, colonnaded stone facade. On the plaza’s north side is the modern Palacio de Justicia, which was reconstructed in 1999 after the original was damaged during the army’s much-criticized storming of the building in 1985, in response to the M-19 guerrilla takeover, with more than a hundred people killed in the raid.
Every Friday from 5pm, Cra 7 is closed to traffic from Plaza de Bolívar all the way to C 26, and the streets fill with performers, food vendors and cachacos (Bogotá natives). The Septimazo, as it is called, is people-watching at its best.