The unique thing about Medellin is that this city has seen extremely violent times. Its inhabitants carry the scars from the past and tend to want to look to the future. Understandably so. This is reflected in the degree to which old buildings, often of architectural importance such as the old theater that used to be where the Nutibara building now stands, have been torn down in favor of newer ones.
You can't blame people for wanting to forget and move on but having spent time here and digging deeper into the past, there is also a darker element to this forgetting.
The "culture" that followed form the Escobar days is extremely superficial and materialist. You can see it on the way so many women and young girls dress in Medellin.
The role of the man is to have possessions, money, a big car and some sort of power and the women, to be be beautiful, sexy and erotic with large breasts and curves.
You don't believe me? Take a look around. Consider for yourself how this came to be.
The image below is from a police amnesty in 2009 in the center of Medellin where people were encouraged to throw away arms.
I don't want to pretend that nothing happened here.
(Medellin fashion week)
Colombiamoda is one of the largest fashion events in South America and held in Medellin due to it´s huge textile industry.
Lingerie and revealing clothes are part of the mainstream ideal of being a woman in Medellin. Go to Bogota and you will see an enormous difference where young women dress more as an expression of identity as opposed to uniformity.
Looking to the future
Maybe a surprising thing about Medellin therefore, is how vibrant the city has become. There is steady growth here with new malls and high rises popping up every few months. People are moving into new, middle-class developments such as Ciudad del Rio where the new Museum of Modern Art (MAMM) is located. This is also one of the most successful areas for kids to play safely in a park system beyond the museum.
What I hope however, is that all this enthusiasm is not only focused on upward mobility, SUVs and nice clothes but that Medellin takes her time to also reflect on her past, where they've come from and where they're going.
Below: Not much of the old Medellin to be seen. This area known as El Poblado used to be farmland.
There's an interesting phenomenon here; the heart of the city, or rather the center of its culture and wealth, has always been in motion. It used to be in Prado next to downtown, then Envigado and now El Poblado. The consequence is that these old centers are left to decay to some extent. The new upper-crust of the city is in fact not in Medellin at all, but rather, outside of the city to the East in the "Oriente" where Rionegro, Llanogrande and the international airport are located.
For all its growth and success over the last decade, it seems not everyone wants to face the past. Where will Medellin be in 20 years I wonder?
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