Medellin had the reputation of the most dangerous city in the world. No wonder the city got its bad name, as the fight between notorious Pablo Escobar, the cartels, the military, and paramilitary groups was part of everyday life. However, the notorious reputation of this place doesn’t impact our Comuna 13 visit. In its history, the neighborhood went through a few cycles of rejuvenation. Today, it is a safe tourist destination for those wishing to explore colorfulness and culture.
On our Comuna 13 visit, we found out that violence was an integral part of life. Fights, shootings, and car bombs were common as the cartels fought to gain power over the barrio.
The outskirts of Medellin reveal the polychromatic brick homes that seem to stretch to infinity. Comuna 13 was an ideal ground for crime back in the time due to the lack of police presence. Its residents built the structures illegally, so the government kept bringing them down. However, the residents had nowhere else to go leaving them with no other option than to raise the houses again.
THE POWERFUL TRANSFORMATION
The youth started painting astonishing murals on the crumbled walls to divert their attention from crime. The vivid murals were a hopeful attempt to conceal the bullet holes. However, they are still visible and subtly reveal the barrio’s turbulent history.
During our Comuna 13 visit, we couldn’t believe that the opposing cartels and paramilitary groups used the neighborhood as a war zone. Things changed when the government regained power in 2002, chasing away the notorious groups. This event was a crucial turnover in the history of this barrio, causing a massive transformation into the neighborhood we see today.
Knowing about the history of this place, witnessing the incredible progress was a fantastic experience for us. We love how the residents managed to reflect the massive transformation in lively street art. The art was an attempt to share the stories and the hope for a bright future ahead. The love for art was a way to replace the interest in joining gangs and participating in criminal activities. Therefore, we can say that art is a major tool for cultural expression and social shift.
During our Comuna 13 visit, we couldn’t miss seeing the young artists working on their masterpieces. The paint stains on their clothes reveal their dedication and love for art, while the confidence when holding the brush speaks a lot about their talents. Even the little ones took part in the process, telling us a lot about the society’s shift in the neighborhood.
Comuna 13 is a lively tourist spot that offers a unique experience thanks to its effort and dedication. Instead of joining gangs, the young people take part in improving the neighborhood’s aesthetics and spreading a strong message. As the colorful stairs took us to the higher points of this barrio, we witnessed a lot of impressive street art. Every corner reveals colorful graffiti art, leaving you plenty of places to explore on your visit.
While graffiti is a signature for Comuna 13, it isn’t the only form of art there. Rappers and hip-hop dancers show off their performance at the tiny squares scattered through the barrio. The small art shops and charming cafes are other fun spots to visit, completing your itinerary to experience the barrio life to the fullest.
If you enjoyed the story of the transformation of Comuna 13, don’t miss out on other travel stories. We have plenty of other experiences to share, keep up with our Travel blog to discover more!