These mysterious stairwells in the center of Bogotá prtompt passerby to ask whether the city has a subway system or air raid shelters. On weekdays, men crowd around the stairwells trading emeralds. In fact, the stairwells lead to a pair of underground rooms, which are all that remain of a building demolished in the 1930s to make way for widening of the Ave. Jimenez.
After four years closed to the public, during which the space was used for teaching music and theatre, the basement rooms have been given to the Universidad Distrital to manage and are to open to the public as art galleries, theatres and for dancing.
It's all part of the efforts to rejuvenate Bogotá's city center, which includes transit expansion, new parks, hotels and offices and improved public spaces.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours