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Usaquén's colonial district has always been one of my favorite places in Bogotá, especially during the popular flea market held on every Sunday and holiday. In addition to the market, this area has several great restaurants, a large beautiful plaza, and a lot more history than you'd imagine.
The Plaza at Usaquén
Usaquén has seen it all. From the Chibcha indigenous tribe that originally inhabited the area, to the Spanish who in 1539 started populating the area known as Usaquén. Large haciendas were built, like the Hacienda Santa Ana and the Hacienda Santa Bárbara – today these have been turned into shopping malls and residential areas. Bloody battles were fought on this land and troops camped out here. Then towards the end of the nineteenth century, the area became a playground for Bogotanos. In 1954 Usaquén was established as an official neighorhood of Bogotá and in 1987 it was declared a national monument.
Finally, in 1991 Usaquén's flea market was born. Without knowing a thing about its long history, people come here every Sunday and holiday to spend the day eating, shopping and strolling. The market itself isn't very big but there is a lot to see and do, and every week has different crafts, antiques, food, live music and much more.
Placemats, baskets, hats and jewelry
For those who live to eat (like me), the flea market at Usaquén has a lot to offer. There are always unique kitchen items like wooden cooking utensils, handmade placemats and tablecloths, trays and plates made from different materials, and the famous chamba pottery. If you are looking for food and drinks to take with you, there are hand crafted marmalades and conserves, candies, fruit infusions and coca leaf products - all 100% Colombian.
Sweets and other Colombian snacks
Usaquén has also become something of a gastronomic mecca with restaurants of all kinds and to fit all budgets - meats, sushi, pizza, typical Colombian cuisine, mexican, ceviches, etc. If what you're looking for is something quick and easy to keep you going while you wander the market and streets of Usaquén, you can choose from Colombian corn on the cob, obleas, empanadas, fresh fruit and juice, among other things. In either case, you won't be hungry!
Corn on the cob - Colombian style (mazorca)
Spending a Sunday in Usaquén is definintely like spending the day out of town. Its history, architecture, culture and town-like feeling, plus all the comforts of the city, continue to make Usaquén a playground for bogotanos as well as for visitors from overseas who come looking for Colombian souvenirs.
Freshly squeezed tangerine and lulo juice
A few suggestions: Arrive by bike, taxi or bus to avoid the hassle of parking. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes so you can walk around and explore the streets of Usaquén. Be prepared for rain or shine - dress in layers and bring an umbrella or waterproof jacket. Take cash and small change so you can support the artisans who come to sell their products at the market. And finally, don't forget that Usaquén has a long and important story in the history of Bogotá...
The flea market is set up on the streets around the central plaza of Usaquén - a few blocks north of the Santa Barbara shopping mall - every Sunday and holiday. Don't miss walking around the neighborhood and get to know the other stores and restaurants found in the area.