You’ve probably already heard of the Colombian city of Medellin, but not as a tourist attraction. Once the infamous stomping ground of “Cocaine Kingpin” Pablo Escobar, this Colombian city boasted a murder rate of 380 per 100,000, earning it a reputation as the most violent in the world. But as the writers at Blackbook recently discovered, these days Medellin’s tourist prospects are looking up.
Life in Medellin has changed dramatically since the dark years of drug violence. Blackbook found a city blessed by “verdant beauty, its residents’ hospitality and gregariousness, its rich artistic heritage, and its richer cuisine.” Painter Fernando Botero was born in Medellin and a new art museum bearing his name opened here in 2004. In addition, the city offers a wealth of delicious foodstuffs including sancocho, a stew of plantains, yucca and potato, as well as local moonshine aguardiente. Even the travel world’s chosen son, Anthony Bourdain, visited Medellin in 2008, giving the town rave reviews.
So is Colombia destined to become the world’s next great hot destination? It’s not quite there yet. An uptick in violence last year again has residents and visitors on edge. But Medellin’s beauty, friendly citizens and unique culture will not go undiscovered for long. A secret this good was bound to get out sooner or later.