I want to thank Carrie Trotter for making this post. She is currently in Colombia for the adoption of Johan, a child that she and her husband met through Kidsave. Ibague is one of the few areas my Colombian family hasn't been to, so I asked Carrie to put together a post about the area based on her experience.
Ibagué, a city of approximately 500,000 people, is located in the Colombian Andean region in central Tolima. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides except for one plateau on the East and is nestled on the slopes of the Cordillera Central. Ibagué is on the road from Bogota to Cali and is consequently an important commercial center and road transport hub. The fertile countryside produces coffee, cacao, tobacco, sugarcane and rice.
Ibagué is known as the music capital of Colombia due to its famous conservatory and long tradition of offering advanced musical education. Today, the conservatory, founded in 1906, comprises an old, dilapidated building as well as a more modern one. While the buildings are not that impressive they are an important part of the city’s heritage. The conservatory is located just around the corner of Plaza de Bolívar.
Plaza de Bolívar, located in the heart of the historical area, is not only an important symbol for the people of Bogotá but also a crowded meeting point popular with photographers, food vendors, street theatre groups and children running around hundreds of pigeons on the square.
Colombia's most important institutions surround Plaza de Bolívar: Capitolio Nacional (National Capitol), the seat of the National Congress; a French style building known as Edificio Liévano (Liévano building), the seat of Bogota's Mayor; Palacio de Justicia (Palace of Justice) and the Catedral Primada (the Cathedral), in which lies the tomb of Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada, Bogota's founder. These buildings, with the exception of the Cathedral are not open to the public. In the middle of the plaza is a statue of Simón Bolívar made by the Italian sculptor Pietro Tenerani. Dating from 1846, it is the city's oldest public monument.
Another area of interest in Ibagué is a large Botanical Garden just on the outskirts of town. The Jardín Botanico San Jorge boasts over 500 species of plants and miles of walking trails.
Outdoorsmen and hikers use Ibagué as a starting point for the hike to Los Nevados National Park. Within the park is Nevado del Tolima, one of two active volcanoes near Ibagué.