In the not too distant past, Medellín was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. In particular, one area stood above all others as a no-go zone. That area is Comuna 13, which a part of has since become one of the city's top tourist destinations.
How did Medellín's transformation occur, and why Comuna 13? The unspeakable atrocities committed by militant groups and drug traffickers have been the subject of countless movies, television shows, documentaries, and books, but rarely do you hear of the innovations and investment by the city after these groups lost their powerful grip.
When escalators were installed in a section of Comuna 13 to improve the mobility of its residents, the quality of life in the area changed dramatically. Coupled with the colorful graffiti, which started as a way for the youth to express themselves, outsiders began to take notice.
In the past few years, thousands of foreign tourists have made a point to visit Comuna 13 on any trip to Medellín. There, they can interact with locals, learn about the bloody history of the city, and see some of the most impressive graffiti in the world.
The graffiti has many themes, including political and social, unity and equality, and respect for the indigenous and minority communities of Colombia. The art changes frequently, and no trip to Comuna 13 will ever display the same murals.
But perhaps the most enjoyable part of visiting the comuna is visiting with the locals. Smiles are never in short supply, and it seems like everyone is eager to learn about where you're from and have a quick chat. You can eat a home cooked meal at a small restaurant, sip on coffee and hear stories of those who have lived their entire lives there, listen to an up-and-coming rapper, or support an artist selling their work on the street. You'll also be treated to some of the best views of Medellín.
One thing is for sure - a visit to Comuna 13 is bound to touch your heart, brighten your day, and give you hope for the future.
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