Medellin Free City Guide

History of Medellin

Spaniards first discovered the Aburra Valley and some of it’s local inhabitants in the 1540’s. However Medellin was not founded by Spain until 1616 by Francisco de Herrera Campuzano, three quarters of a century later. Early development of Medellin began in what is modern day Poblado. It’s speculated that the early settlers of Medellin were Spanish Jews, who were fleeing from the Inquisition. Some historians believe Paisas (as the locals of Medellin are called) became so independent because of their need to find their own settlement.

Medellin’s rapid growth came much later, around the beginning of the 20th century. The railroad and the boom in the profitable cash-crop, coffee, were the main catalysts for the cities expansion. Within a few short decades Medellin had become a bustling metropolitan city.

By the 1980’s, Medellin’s history took a turn for the worse. Political instability and drug trafficking took hold of the city.  The notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar began to run the city of Medellin with the power that came from his exorbitant wealth, derived from the production of the world’s cocaine supply. At the time, the city’s homicide rate was one of the highest in the world. Escobar died in 1993 and the city has returned to much safer levels. With a homicide rate of 26.1 per 100,000 residents, it’s still 5 times the US average. But less than several major US cities, such as Baltimore and Detroit.

With the improved security status Medellin is now being touted as one of the top must-visit destinations by prestigious media such as National Geographic, The Guardian Newspaper and BBC news. With all this international hype Medellin is currently one of the fastest growing tourist and expatriate destinations in South America.

If you’re a history buff and curious to see old photos of Medellin you might appreciate the following Facebook groups:

Toucan Tip: Try a Medellin Walking Tour

If you want to know more about the history of Medellin you could take the 4 hour Real City Walking Tour. This daily organised group tour is highly recommended on TripAdvisor. It’s advertised as free but of course a tip is expected.

If you don’t like organised tours you’ll enjoy our free Toucan Medellin Walking Tour it’s a an independent self-paced walking tour. On Toucan’s Medellin Walking Tour you’ll get to explore twice as many locations as the Real City Walking Tour and parts of El Centro that are really interesting that you won’t find in any guide book.

Because there is no stopping to listen to the tour guide you can do Toucan’s walking tour in a a few hours or stretch it out all day if you want. We even recommend some great places to eat, take a coffee or go overboard and enjoy a cake.

Best of all it’s free … just download, print and go.

History of Medellin
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