Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Restored Camarin for El Carmen

The restored Camarin de Carmen, on 9th St. in La Candelaria. 

Built in 1655, the camarin - a sort of box extending from the side of a church on Calle 9 just above Carrera 5 in La Candelaria - hung on for centuries despite weather, riots and earthquakes as the church building was converted into a military barracks, a school and finally a theatre. But more than three centuries of endurance ended in September 2010, when a delivery truck driving the wrong way on the cobblestone street smashed the ancient structure, severely damaging one of La Candelaria's oldest and most significant pieces of architecture.
A view of Calle 9,
with el Camarin on the right. 

Some placed responsibility on the neighborhood's mayor: she had ordered removed a pair of chains which neighbors had fixed across the street's entrances to block traffic.

After a legal tussle, the company which owned the truck agreed to pay for repairs, and last Saturday, after 15 months of restoration work, the camarin was replaced as close to its original form as possible.

A view down the street towards the Presidential Palace. 
A camarin is a tiny chapel built behind an altar to hold a religious image, in this case La Virgen del Carmen.

A coat of arms on ths street. 
The camarin's return restores an important piece of one of the most colonial-appearing streets in La Candelaria, Bogotá's historical center. The block of 9th Street between Carreras 4 and 5 is one of La Candelaria's few stretches of cobblestone. On its south side is the Colegio Salesiano and on its north the Colegio Santisimo Rosario and a resource center for informal street vendors. On the block below is the Ministry of Foreign Relations, and two more blocks downhill the Presidential Palace, La Casa de Nariño.

And a colorful window on 9th St. 

Graffiti mars this colonial street. 

A handsome old house a block uphill. 

The Ministry of the Exterior, across from el Camarin. 

A poem set in a window. .

And a piece of poetry on a wall. 

Police stopped and searched this old man who had been sitting in a doorway. A security guard told me 'That old man doesn't do any harm, but behind him come many others. They used to mug people all the time on this street.' The cops made the old man move on. 

A lamp two blocks up the street. 


By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

No comments: