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Santiago de León de Caracas
Top left: UCV Olympic Stadium; top right: Offices in Crystal Park; middle: Plaza Venezuela Fountain; bottom left: Los Próceres Monument; bottom right: Libertador Avenue.

Flag

Seal
Nickname(s): La Sultana del Ávila ("The Avila's Sultana")
La Sucursal del Cielo ("Heaven's Branch on Earth)"
Santiago de León de Caracas is located in Venezuela
Santiago de León de Caracas
Coordinates: 10°30′N 66°55′W / 10.5°N 66.917°W / 10.5; -66.917Coordinates: 10°30′N 66°55′W / 10.5°N 66.917°W / 10.5; -66.917
Country Venezuela
States Capital District, Miranda
Municipalities Libertador, Chacao, Baruta, Sucre, El Hatillo
Founded 25 July 1567
Government
 - Mayor Antonio Ledezma
Area
 - Total 1,930 km2 (745.2 sq mi)
Elevation 900 m (2,953 ft)
Population (2001)[1]
 - Total 2,097,350
 Density 1,431.5/km2 (3,707.6/sq mi)
 - Demonym caraqueño(a)
Time zone VST (UTC-04:30)
 - Summer (DST) not observed (UTC-04:30)
Postal code 1010-A
Area code(s) 212
Website alcaldiamayor.gob.ve (Spanish)
The area and population figures are the sum of the figures of the five municipalities (listed above) that make up the Distrito Metropolitano.

Caracas (Spanish pronunciation: [kaˈɾakas]) is the capital and largest city of Venezuela. It is located in the north of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range (Cordillera de la Costa). The valley's temperatures are springlike. Terrain suitable for building lies between 760 and 910 m (2,493.44 and 2,985.56 ft) above sea level. The valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2200 m (7400 ft) high mountain range, Cerro Ávila; to the south there are more hills and mountains.

El Distrito Metropolitano de Caracas (Metropolitan District of Caracas) includes the Distrito Capital (the capital city proper) and four other municipalities in Miranda State including Chacao, Baruta, Sucre, and El Hatillo. The Distrito Capital had a population of 2,097,350 as of 2009,[1] while that of Distrito Metropolitano was estimated at 3,196,514 as of (2008).[2]

Contents

History

Conqueror Diego de Losada, founder of Santiago de León de Caracas
Sketch of Caracas in 1812

At the time of its founding, more than five hundred years ago, the valley of Caracas was populated by indigenous peoples. Francisco Fajardo, the son of a Spanish captain and a Guaiqueri cacica, attempted to establish a plantation in the valley in 1562 after founding a series of coastal towns. Fajardo's settlement did not last long. It was destroyed by natives of the region led by Terepaima and Guaicaipuro. This was the last rebellion on the part of the natives. On 25 July 1567, Captain Diego de Losada laid the foundations of the city of Santiago de León de Caracas.

During the 1600s, the coast of Venezuela was frequently raided by pirates. With the coastal mountains as a barrier, Caracas was relatively immune to such attacks – one of the reasons it became the principal city of the region. However, in the 1680s, buccaneers crossed the mountains through a little-used pass while the town's defenders were guarding the more often-used one, and, encountering little resistance, sacked and set fire to the town.[3]

The cultivation of cocoa under the Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas stimulated the development of the city, which in 1777 became the capital of the Captaincy General of Venezuela.

An attempt at revolution to gain independence organized by José María España and Manuel Gual was put down on 13 July 1797. But the ideas of the French Revolution and the American Wars of Independence inspired the people, and on 5 July 1811, a Declaration of Independence was signed in Caracas. This city was also the birthplace of two of Latin America's most important figures of the Venezuelan War of Independence: Francisco de Miranda and "El Libertador" Simón Bolívar. An earthquake destroyed Caracas on 26 March 1812, which was portrayed by authorities as a divine punishment for the rebellion against the Spanish Crown. The war continued until 24 June 1821, when Bolívar gained a decisive victory over the royalists at the Battle of Carabobo.[4]

As the economy of oil-rich Venezuela grew steadily during the first part of the twentieth century, Caracas became one of Latin America's economic centers, and was also known as the preferred travel hub between Europe and South America. During the 1950s, Caracas began an intensive modernization program which continued throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. The Universidad Central de Venezuela, designed by modernist architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva and now a UNESCO monument, was built. New working- and middle-class residential districts sprouted in the valley, extending the urban area towards the east and southeast. Joining El Silencio, also designed by Villanueva, were several workers' housing districts, 23 de Enero and Simon Rodriguez. Middle class developments include Bello Monte, Los Palos Grandes, Chuao, and El Cafetal. On 17 October 2004, one of the Parque Central towers caught fire. The dramatic change in the economic structure of the country, which went from being primarily agricultural to dependent on oil production, stimulated the fast development of Caracas, and made it a magnet for people in rural communities who migrated to the capital city in an unplanned fashion searching for greater economic opportunities. This migration created the rancho (slum) belt of the valley of Caracas.

Symbols

Colonial painting of Our Lady of Caracas, Patroness of the city
View of Caracas in 1839; once a colonial city of red-tiled roofs, the city now has many skyscrapers

The flag of Caracas consists of a burgundy red field with the version of the Coat of Arms of the City (effective since the 1980s). The red field symbolises the blood spilt by Caraquenian people in favour of independence and the highest ideals of the Venezuelan Nation. Later, in the year 1994, presumably as a result of the change of municipal authorities, it was decided to increase the size of the Caracas coat of arms and move it to the centre of the field. This version of the flag is still in use today.

The coat of arms of the City of Caracas was adopted by the Libertador Municipality to identify itself. Later, the Metropolitan Mayor Office assumed the lion, the scallop and Saint James' Cross for the same purpose.

The anthem of the city is the Marcha a Caracas, written by the composer Tiero Pezzuti de Matteis with the lyrics by José Enrique Sarabia. The lyrics are said to be inspired by the heroism of the Caracas people, and the memory of the City of Red Roofs. Incidentally, the National Anthem of Venezuela (Gloria al Bravo Pueblo) recites: "...Y si el despotismo levanta la voz, seguid el ejemplo que Caracas dio." ("...and if despotism raises its voice, follow the example that Caracas gave."), reflecting the fact that, in addition to generously giving many heroic fighters to wage the War of Independence, the junta set up in Caracas (19 April 1810) served as inspiration for other regions to do the same, as did its declaration of independence a year later.

Local government

Caracas has five municipalities: Baruta, El Hatillo, Chacao, Libertador and Sucre. The constitution of Venezuela specifies that municipal governments be divided into executive and legislative branches. The executive government of the municipality is governed by the mayor, while the legislative government is managed by the Municipal council. In 8 March 2000, the year after a new constitution was introduced in Venezuela, it was decreed in Gaceta Official N° 36,906 that the Metropolitan District of Caracas would be created, and that some of the powers of these municipalities would be delegated to the Alcaldía Mayor, physically located in the large Libertador municipality, in the center of the city.

In 2009, Congress stripped the mayor of control of Libertador and replaced him with an official hand-picked by the president. [5]

Alejandro Otero´s Abra Solar

Economy

Businesses located here include service companies, banks, and malls, among others. Most economic activity is in services, excepting some industries established in its metropolitan area.[citation needed] The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is headquartered here. The PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela[citation needed] and negotiates all the international agreements for the distribution and export of petroleum.[citation needed] When the company existed, the airline Viasa had its headquarters in the Torre Viasa.[6][7]

Small and medium industry contribute to the Caracas economy. The city has communication and transportation infrastructure between the metropolitan area and the country. Caracas is a regional center for the distribution of products. The high concentration of population has also been an important factor for the growth of retail wholesale markets, which form the fastest-growing segment of commerce in the region.[citation needed] Important industries in Caracas include chemicals, textiles, leather, food, iron and wood products. There are also rubber and cement factories.[citation needed]

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Cost of living

A 2009 United Nations survey reported that the cost of living was 89% higher than its baseline, New York City.[8]

Geography

North-south view of central Caracas from Cerro El Ávila

Caracas is contained entirely within a valley of the Venezuelan central range, and separated from the Caribbean coast by a roughly 15 km expanse of El Ávila National Park. The valley is relatively small and quite irregular, the altitude with respect to sea level varies from between 870 and 1,043 meters (2,854–3,422 ft), with 900 meters (2,953 ft) in the historic zone. This, along with the rapid population growth, has profoundly influenced the urban development of the city. The most elevated point of the Capital District, wherein the city is located, is the Pico El Ávila, which rises to 2,159 meters (7,083 ft). The main body of water in Caracas is the Guaire river, which flows across the city and empties into the Tuy river, which is also fed by the El Valle and San Pedro rivers, in addition to numerous streams which descend from El Ávila. The La Mariposa and Camatagua reservoirs provide water to the city.

Climate

Francisco Fajardo highway at night

Under the Koppen climate classification, Caracas has a Tropical savanna climate. Caracas is also intertropical, with precipitation that varies between 900 and 1,300 millimeters (35–51 in) (annual), in the city proper, and up to 2,000 millimeters (79 in) in some parts of the Mountain range. While Caracas is within the tropics, due to its altitude temperatures are generally not nearly as high as other tropical locations at sea level. The annual average temperature is approximately 21.2 °C (70 °F), with the average of the coldest month (January) 19 °C (66 °F) and the average of the warmest month (May) 22 °C (72 °F), which gives a small annual thermal amplitude of 3 °C (37 °F). In the months of December and January abundant fog may appear, in addition to a sudden nightly drop in temperature, until reaching 07 °C (45 °F)[9] or less. This peculiar weather is known by the natives of Caracas as the Pacheco. In addition, nightly temperatures at any time of the year usually do not remain above 20 °C (68 °F), which results in very pleasant evening temperatures. Hail storms appear in Caracas, although only on rare occasions. Electrical storms are much more frequent, especially between June and October, due to the city being in a closed valley and the orographic action of Cerro El Ávila.

Climate data for Caracas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32
(90)
35
(95)
35
(95)
37
(99)
36
(97)
35
(95)
37
(99)
36
(97)
36
(97)
33
(91)
32
(90)
32
(90)
37
(99)
Average high °C (°F) 25
(77)
26
(79)
27
(81)
27
(81)
27
(81)
26
(79)
26
(79)
26
(79)
27
(81)
26
(79)
26
(79)
25
(77)
28.4
(83)
Average low °C (°F) 13
(55)
13
(55)
14
(57)
16
(61)
17
(63)
17
(63)
16
(61)
16
(61)
16
(61)
16
(61)
16
(61)
14
(57)
14
(57)
Record low °C (°F) 8
(46)
8
(46)
7
(45)
11
(52)
11
(52)
12
(54)
11
(52)
12
(54)
12
(54)
12
(54)
11
(52)
7
(45)
7
(45)
Precipitation mm (inches) 16
(0.63)
13
(0.51)
12
(0.47)
59
(2.32)
80
(3.15)
139
(5.47)
121
(4.76)
124
(4.88)
114
(4.49)
123
(4.84)
73
(2.87)
42
(1.65)
916
(36.06)
Source: weatherbase.com[10] 8 June 2007
Source #2: weather.com[11] 8 June 2007

Demographics

The population of Caracas proper (Distrito Capital) is estimated to be 2,097,350 as of 2009,[1] while that of the Metropolitan District of Caracas is estimated at 3,196,514 as of (2008).[2] The conurbation including the surrounding suburbs has an estimated population of 4.3 million as of 2010.[12]

Main sights

East Park.
Casa del Libertador (Simón Bolívar's birthplace)
National Pantheon of Venezuela
Caracas Cathedral
View of Altamira neighbourhood in Caracas
Las Mercedes commercial district
Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex

Federal Capitol

The Federal Capitol occupies an entire city block, and, with its golden domes and neoclassical pediments, can seem even bigger. The building was commissioned by Antonio Guzmán Blanco in the 1870s, and is most famous for its Salón Elíptico, an oval hall with a mural-covered dome and walls lined with portraits of the country's great and good.

East Park

The Caracas East Park (Parque del Este, now officially Parque del Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda) was designed by Brazilian architect Roberto Burle Marx. It is a green paradise in the middle of the city, and it contains a small zoo. A replica of the ship led by Francisco de Miranda, the Leander, is being built in the southern part of the park. Before there used to exist a replica of the Santa Maria ship, used by Christopher Colombus in his voyages to America.

Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex

The Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex (Complejo Cultural Teresa Carreño), or more commonly the Teresa Carreño Theatre (Teatro Teresa Carreño), is one of the most important Theaters of Caracas and Venezuela, where symphonic and popular concerts imagine frequently, operas, ballet and theatre.

Simón Bolívar birthplace house

Skyscrapers may loom overhead, but there is more than a hint of original colonial flavour in this neatly proportioned reconstruction of the house where Simón Bolívar was born on 24 July 1783. The museum's exhibits include period weapons, banners and uniforms.

Much of the original colonial interior has been replaced by monumental paintings of battle scenes, but more personal relics can be seen in the nearby Museo Bolivariano. Pride of place goes to the coffin in which Bolívar's remains were brought from Colombia; his ashes now rest in the National Pantheon.

National Pantheon

Venezuela's most venerated building is five blocks north of Plaza Bolívar, on the northern edge of the old town. Formerly a church, the building was given its new purpose as the final resting place for eminent Venezuelans by Antonio Guzmán Blanco in 1874.

Parque Central Complex

At a short distance east of Plaza Bolívar is Parque Central, a concrete complex of five high-rise residential slabs of somewhat apocalyptic-appearing architecture, crowned by two 56-storey octagonal towers, one of them is under repair due to the fire which burnt the building on 17 October 2004.

Parque Central is Caracas' art and culture hub, with museums, cinemas and the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex. The Mirador de la Torre Oeste, on the 52nd floor, gives a 360° bird's-eye view of the city.

Plazas

  • Plaza Bolívar is the focus of the old town with the monument to El Libertador, Simon Bolívar, at its heart. Modern high-rise buildings have overpowered much of the colonial flavor of Caracas' founding neighbourhood.
  • Plaza Venezuela is the geographic center of Caracas. It is a large urban plaza at the entrance of the Central University of Venezuela. Kinetic artists have displayed their works there, including Carlos Cruz-Diez, Alejandro Otero and Jesus Soto. East of the Plaza is the Plaza Venezuela Fountain, a large computerized display of water, music and colored light refurbished in 2009 to include the latest available technology.[13]
  • Plaza Caracas was constructed in 1983. It is in the Simón Bolívar Center, at the foot of the 30-story towers, dominating El Silencio District and forming a unique testimony to the early days of the modernization of the city. It has various levels for pedestrian and motorised traffic, and contains the business, shops, restaurants, services of a zone in which are concentrated public and private institutions.

El Hatillo

El Hatillo is a colonial town located at the south-east suburbs of Caracas in the municipal area of the same name. This small town, which is one of Venezuela's few well-preserved typical colonial areas, gives an idea of what Caracas was like in centuries past.

Cerro El Ávila

Cerro El Ávila (Mountain El Ávila) (Indigenous name: Guaraira Repano), is a mountain in the mid-North of Venezuela. It rises next to Caracas and separates the city from the Caribbean Sea. It is considered the lung of Caracas due to the fact that there is a lot of vegetation on it.

Las Mercedes

This zone contains restaurants with varied gastronomical specialties, along with pubs, bars, pools and art galleries.

Altamira neighborhood

Altamira is a neighborhood located in the Chacao municipality of Caracas, it has its own Metro Station, many hotels, malls and restaurants, and is an important city business and cultural centre , the Francisco de Miranda avenue (a major avenue in Caracas) and the Distibuidor Altamira (a congested highway exit) are both located in Altamira.

Religious buildings

Caracas contains a number of religious buildings, first among them, the Caracas Cathedral. Situated on the northeast corner of the Plaza Bolívar, it was founded in 1594. The parents of Simón Bolívar are buried there, besides its hand carved altars, it possesses works of art such as, The Resurrection by Rubens, the Presentation of the Virgin by Murillo, and the Last Supper, an unfinished work by the Venezuelan painter Arturo Michelena.

The Iglesia de San Francisco is of historical value. Bolívar's funeral was held here twelve years after his death. Here he was proclaimed Libertador in 1813 by the people of Caracas. The church has gilded baroque altarpieces, and retains much of its original colonial interior, despite being given a treatment in the 19th century under the auspices of Antonio Guzmán Blanco, which was intended to be modernizing.[citation needed] It contains some 17th century masterpieces of art, carvings, sculptures and oil paintings. The Central University of Venezuela, established during the reign of Philip V, was lodged for centuries in the church cloisters next door, which today are the seat of the Language Academy, and the Academies of History, Physics, and Mathematics.

The Mosque of Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ibrahim is the second largest mosque in Latin America. For many years it was the biggest.[14]

Colleges, universities and international schools

Central University of Venezuela

The Central University of Venezuela (Universidad Central de Venezuela in Spanish) is a public University. Founded in 1721, it is the oldest university in Venezuela and one of the first in Latin America.[citation needed] The university campus was designed by architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva and it was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2000. The Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas, as the main Campus is also known, is considered a masterpiece of architecture and urban planning and it is the only university campus designed in the 20th century that has received such recognition by UNESCO.[citation needed]

Central University of Venezuela.
Laberinto Cromovegetal, at the Simón Bolívar University.

Simón Bolívar University

The Simón Bolívar University (Universidad Simón Bolívar, in Spanish, or USB) is a public institution located in Caracas, Venezuela with scientific and technological orientation. Its motto is "La Universidad de la Excelencia" ("University of Excellence"). Both nationally and globally, Simón Bolívar University is a well-known school with a high reputation in scientific and engineering careers[citation needed].

Other universities

International schools

Sports

UCV Baseball Stadium.
Brigido Iriarte soccer stadium.

There are professional Association Football, baseball and several other sports.

Professional teams include Deportivo Italia, Caracas Fútbol Club, SD Centro Italo Venezolano, Estrella Roja FC and Real Esppor Club. The Deportivo Italia has arrived to the semifinals of international tournaments such as the Copa Libertadores de America, while the Caracas Fútbol Club has arrived to the quarterfinals.

Baseball teams Tiburones de La Guaira and Leones del Caracas play in the Estadio Universitario de la UCV, of the Central University of Venezuela, with a capacity of 26,000 spectators.

Another baseball team started in Caracas: the Navegantes del Magallanes. It was moved to Valencia, Carabobo.

Association Football stadiums include:

Caracas is the seat of the National Institute of Sports and of the Venezuelan Olympic Committee.

Caracas hosted the 1983 Pan American Games.

Teams

Culture

Cloud Sheper, by Hans Arp, UCV

Caracas is Venezuela's cultural capital, boasting many restaurants, theaters, museums, and shopping centers. The city is also home to an array of immigrants from but not limited to: Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Middle East, Germany, China, and Latin American countries. The city has the reputation as being one of the most dangerous cities in the world.[15][16][17][18]

Museums, libraries and cultural centres

Caracas, has been a city with great cultural aspirations throughout the course of its history. Institutions such as the old Atheneum bear witness to this awareness. The National library holds a great amount of volumes, and affords abundant bibliographic information for the student of the discovery and independence of Venezuela. The museum of Colonial Art has on show an interesting exhibition of Venezuelan art from the periods previous to its independence with fountains, furniture, colonial courtyards etc. In the Fine Arts Museum are kept some archaeological finds with some good examples of precolombine pottery.

Since 1974, Caracas has had a Contemporary Art Museum, containing works representing the most important tendencies in contemporary art, and since 1982, counts with a Children's Museum, a privately managed museum foundation, with the purpose of teaching children about science, technology, culture and arts. The Natural Science Museum, has a rich collection os archaeological pieces from the primitive native cultures, in these collections and in other no less important galleries (Raúl Santana Creole Museum, Transport Museum, the Coin Museum, Bolivarian Museum, Jacobo Borges Museum, Carlos Cruz-Diez Museum, Alejandro Otero Museum, Sacred Museum, etc.) the cultural aspirations of Caracas are more than evident.

Gastronomy

Caracas has a gastronomical heritage due to the influence of immigrants, leading to a choice of regional and international cuisine.[citation needed] There is a variety of international restaurants including French, Arabic,Italian, Spanish, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican. The district of La Candelaria contains Spanish restaurants, resulting from Galician and Canarian immigrants that came to this area in the mid-20th c

Notable natives

Federal Capitol
Statue of Simón Bolívar at Los Próceres Monument
Los Conductores del País mural, at the Francisco Fajardo Highway

Caracas has been the birthplace of many politicians and artists that notably shaped the country's history and culture:

Transportation

Inside Plaza Venezuela station of the Caracas Metro
Boyacá Avenue (Cota Mil)
St. Peter´s Church
  • The Caracas Metro has been in operation since 1981. With 4 lines and more than 50 stations, it covers a great part of the city, it also has an integrated ticket system, that combines the route of the Metro with those offered by the Metrobús, a bus service of the Caracas Metro.
  • Buses are the main means of mass transportation. There are two bus systems: the traditional system and the Metrobús. The traditional system runs a variety of bus types, operated by several companies on normal streets and avenues:
    • Autobus; large buses.
    • Camioneta; medium size buses.
    • microbus or camionetica; vans or minivans.
  • IFE; train services to and from Tuy Valley cities of Charallave and Cúa.
  • Simón Bolívar International Airport, the biggest and most important in the country is located outside the city, roughly 20 miles (32 km) from the downtown area.
  • Caracas Aerial Tramway
  • In March 2009 four of the five Caracas districts launched Plan Vía Libre to reduce traffic (the pro-Chavez Jorge Rodríguez' Libertador District is currently not cooperating as the other districts are in the hands of the opposition[19]). On each weekday, cars with certain number plates are banned from entering key parts of the city centre; the numbers rotate so that any particular car is banned one day a week.[20]

International relations

Caracas is twinned with:

Districts

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Population projection for federal entities
  2. ^ a b (Spanish)"Elecciones Regionales 23 de noviembre 2008 - Distrito Metropolitano de Caracas". CNE. http://www.cne.gov.ve/elecciones/regionales2008/documentos/CE_METROPOLITANO2008.pdf. Retrieved 13 July 2009. 
  3. ^ John Lombardi, Venezuela, Oxford, England, 1982, p 72.
  4. ^ Maurice Wiesenthal, The History and Geography of a Valley, 1981.
  5. ^ Reuters report retrieved 18 September 2009
  6. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 30, 1985. 130." Retrieved on June 17, 2009.
  7. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 26, 1988. 125.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "Weather Centre - World Weather - Average Conditions - Caracas". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/city_guides/results.shtml?tt=TT001970. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 
  10. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Caracas, Venezuela". weatherbase.com. http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/weatherall.php3?s=61408&refer=&units=us. Retrieved 8 June 2007. 
  11. ^ "Average Weather for Caracas, * - Temperature and Precipitation". weather.com. http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/VEXX0008?from=search. Retrieved 8 June 2007. 
  12. ^ citypopulation.de
  13. ^ (Spanish) VTV Noticias {{cite web|last= |first=|url=http://www.vtv.gov.ve/noticias-ciencia-y-salud/22024 |title=Con gran explosión de luz, sonido y movimiento fue reinaugurada fuente de Plaza Venezuela |publisher=vtv.gov.ve |date= |accessdate=December 13, 2009
  14. ^ The New York Times/ Brooke, James (January 3, 1993). "Caracas Getting Continent's Biggest Mosque". nytimes.com. http://www.nytimes.com/1993/01/03/world/caracas-getting-continent-s-biggest-mosque.html. Retrieved December 13, 2009. 
  15. ^ Ingham, James (20 April 2007). "Americas | Airships to tackle Caracas crime". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6576413.stm. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 
  16. ^ "Venezuela". Travel.state.gov. http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1059.html. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 
  17. ^ "Venezuela Warnings or Dangers - Travel Guide". VirtualTourist.com. http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/South_America/Venezuela/Warnings_or_Dangers-Venezuela-BR-1.html. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 
  18. ^ Feinman, Sacha (27 November 2006). "Crime and class in Caracas. - By Sacha Feinman - Slate Magazine". Slate.com. http://www.slate.com/id/2154426. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 
  19. ^ Gabriel, George. "Discourse and Division in Venezuela". venezuelanalysis.com. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/4257. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 
  20. ^ (Spanish) Noticias24, 1 March 2009, Mañana comienza el “Plan Vía Libre” para combatir las colas en Caracas
  21. ^ "Sister Cities of Istanbul". http://www.greatistanbul.com/sister_cities.htm. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  22. ^ Erdem, Selim Efe (1 July 2009). "İstanbul'a 49 kardeş" (in Turkish). Radikal. http://www.radikal.com.tr/haber.php?haberno=94185. Retrieved 22 July 2009. "49 sister cities in 2003" 
  23. ^ Madrid city council webpage "Mapa Mundi de las ciudades hermanadas". Ayuntamiento de Madrid. http://www.munimadrid.es/portal/site/munimadrid/menuitem.dbd5147a4ba1b0aa7d245f019fc08a0c/?vgnextoid=4e84399a03003110VgnVCM2000000c205a0aRCRD&vgnextchannel=4e98823d3a37a010VgnVCM100000d90ca8c0RCRD&vgnextfmt=especial1&idContenido=1da69a4192b5b010VgnVCM100000d90ca8c0RCRD Madrid city council webpage. Retrieved 22 July 2009. 

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

A view of Caracas valley, with northern mountains in the background, as seen from a plane landing in the airport.
A view of Caracas valley, with northern mountains in the background, as seen from a plane landing in the airport.

Caracas is the capital and largest city of Venezuela. It is located in northern Venezuela, near the Caribbean.

Understand

Venezuela’s urban spirit can be discovered mainly from understanding Caracas, its capital city.

Caracas is not one of the top touristic destinations of Venezuela, and travelers often bypass the capital city in order to see the country’s amazing natural attractions. However, the Venezuelan capital can be a fascinating city to explore, replete with excellent art, food and a bustling nightlife.

Caracas is located in a beautiful valley, overlooked by Mount Avila, an impressive mountain that separates the city from the Caribbean Sea and shapes most of the city’s landscape. It is a popular weekend destination for the city’s residents (known as Caraqueños) and is easily reached by taking a very modern cable car that goes all the way from the mountain base to the “Ávila Mágica” park, which is situated at the top of the mountain.

In Caracas the staggering inequalities of wealth that characterize Venezuela’s economic situation are on display. They range from very poor neighborhoods in the hills west of the city called “barrios”, to the modern business district of El Rosal, or even the huge mansions of the rich eastern neighborhoods.

The city’s streets and highways are always crowded with vehicles, as Venezuela has the cheapest gasoline in the world (at about $0.12/gallon). Subsidized gasoline and inadequate infrastructure have helped spur pollution and big traffic lines in almost all of the inner city motorways. Nevertheless Caracas’ subway system is one of the best in all Latin America.

Some of the city’s most important aspects are the warmth of its inhabitants, their love of the beach and partying, and their welcoming nature.

Entertainment and Nightlife

Caracas is a cosmopolitan city and is admired for its gastronomy. It has restaurants and bars inspired by the cuisine of many different countries and cultures due to great waves of immigration from Europe and the Middle East after the Second World War.

The city is filled with “centros commerciales” and department stores, and the popular restaurants and clubs in the towering malls due to security concerns. In the San Ignacio Mall you’ll find the city’s young, rich and beautiful drinking whiskey and “Las Mercedes” and “La Castellana” districts are also popular late night hot spots.

People often party until 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, so it’s advisable to take a cab when heading out.

Climate

Caracas has a tropical climate with very little variation between summer and winter temperatures. Set in a valley some 900 meters above sea level, its climate is often described as its best feature: never cold, seldom too hot. Average daily temperature in summer ranges from a minimum of 18˚C (64˚F) to a maximum of 28˚C (82˚F). Winter temperatures are only two to three degrees cooler. Most rainfall occurs during the period from May to November and can be accompanied by electrical storms.

Bolivares fuertes shown with old bolivares.
Bolivares fuertes shown with old bolivares.

The government of Venezuela implemented foreign exchange controls in 2003 including a fixed official rate of exchange against the U.S. dollar. Foreign exchange transactions must take place through exchange houses or commercial banks at the official rate. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to exchange money at hotels. Currency exchange for tourists can be arranged at "casas de cambio" (exchange houses), located near most major hotels. It is also possible to exchange money at commercial banks; however, tourists should be aware that the exchange will not be immediate. Exchanges through commercial banks must first be approved by the Commission for Administration of Foreign Currencies (CADIVI). This requires a registration process, which delays the exchange. The exchange control mechanisms also require the exchange houses and commercial banks to obtain authorization from CADIVI to trade Bolívares Fuertes (BsF, the local currency) into U.S. dollars or Euros.

It’s likely that travelers will encounter Venezuelans who are willing to exchange Bolívares Fuertes for U.S. dollars or Euros at a rate significantly higher than the official rate of exchange. These "parallel market" currency exchanges are prohibited under the Venezuelan foreign exchange controls. Travelers engaging in such activity may be detained by the Venezuelan authorities if they are discovered. Additionally, in accordance with an October 2005 law, any person who exchanges more than 10,000 U.S. dollars (or its equivalent in other currencies) in the course of a year through unofficial means is subject to a fine of double the amount exchanged. If the amount exceeds 20,000 U.S. dollars the penalty is two to six years imprisonment. Any person who transports more than 10,000 U.S. dollars into or out of Venezuela by any means must declare this amount to customs officials.

Within the "Parallel Market" there are various exchange rates: the tourist, the black market (a bit higher but dangerous and shady), and the bonds brokerage one (high amounts in government bonds, when on sale). That highest one, which appears as reference on certain internet pages, is the government dollar bonds rate, inaccessible unless you buy thousands of dollars in government bonds through a Venezuelan brokerage firm. This last one determines the rate of the black market one and the tourist one. Once you change you cannot change back to euros or dollars. The rates vary around Venezuela and from week to week. The tourist rate rarely varies in time. The tourist rate is 4 to the dollar (as of October 2009) and it is 6 euros/BsF. Note that these rates are more than double the official prices.

Credit cards are generally accepted at most establishments, but foreign exchange controls have made foreign credit card use less common than in the past, mostly because of the unfavorable official exchange rate. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club have representatives in Venezuela. Due to the prevalence of credit card fraud, travelers should exercise caution in using their credit cards and should check statements regularly to ensure that no unauthorized charges have been made. Caracas has ATMs with 24-hour service where users may withdraw local currency, but many of these ATMs may not accept foreign-issued debit cards.

Get in

By plane

Maiquetía's Simón Bolívar Airport has three passenger terminals [1] (Internacional, Nacional and Auxiliar) and is 25 km away from central Caracas via a highway through the coastal mountains. A new road bridge, replacing one that collapsed in 2006, came into service in July 2007, ending months of tortuous journeys to and from the airport. The trip to Caracas should now take around 40 minutes or up to 60-70 minutes during rush hour.

This international airport is served by American Airlines, Aeropostal, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Avianca, Aero República, Alitalia, Air France, Air Canada, Continental, Delta, Iberia, LAN, TACA and Varig among others. Non stop flights are available to and from Miami, New York, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Madrid, Paris, Roma, Milano, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Aruba, Bogotá, Medellín, Cartagena de Indias, Panamá City, Lima, Fort de France, Toronto and other cities.

Taxi fares are usually BsF 150 (US$70 at official rate, around US$ 35 at "tourist" rate) to Caracas but there are many unlicensed taxis offering their services and travelers should exercise caution. In particular, it is advised to agree on a price before getting into the taxi, not sharing with anyone other than the driver, with a preference given to the airport's official black Ford Explorer cabs. Check with your hotel to see if they arrange airport pickup - it may need to be booked in advance. There is also a new taxi service that you can book online at [2].

Please be aware that there is an exit fee of BsF 115 (as of July 2008) that must be paid in cash as the office in charge of collection does not accept credit cards. Also you will have to pay an additional airport tax of 46 BsF directly after check-in at the gate. However there are ATMs, currency exchange houses (charging the official rate) and unofficial brokers willing to provide BsFs at a more advantageous rate.

By car

Fairly decent highways connect Caracas with La Guaira and the airport to the north; Maracay, Valencia and Maracaibo in the west; Barcelona and Puerto La Cruz in the east.

While driving in Caracas can be a hectic experience, renting a car to experience the outlying areas is a wonderful way to leave behind the well-traveled routes.

Car rental is available in the following locations:

  • Hertz Car Rental, Maiquetia International Airport, +58 212 355-1197, [3]. Mon-Fri 5am-11:30pm, Sat-Sun 6pm-11:30pm. Hertz Car Rental is available at the international and the domestic terminals, as well as several locations in the city  edit
  • Budget Car Rental, Budget Rent-A-Car Building, Avenida Nueva Granada, +58 212 603-1360, [4]. Mon-Fri 8am-12pm and 1:30pm-6pm.  edit

By bus

A taxi from the bus terminal to the center will cost you around BsF 30.

Buses from the airport to Caracas cost around BsF 30. Passengers have the option of alighting either at Gato Negro metro station (somewhat unsafe at street level) or under a bridge at the Parque Central bus terminal, from where you'll need to get a taxi to your final destination or walk about 1 km along a busy road to the Bellas Artes metro station.

There is also a new government-run bus service to the Alba Hotel in Bellas Artes, which costs BsF 8. Passengers do not need to be guests at Alba. Further information is available from the two tourist board offices in the international terminal of Maiquetía airport.

The La Bandera bus terminal connects Caracas with towns and cities to the west of the capital such as La Victoria (1 hour), Maracay (1.5 hours), Valencia (2.5 hours) and Merida (~12 hours). The 800m walk from La Bandera metro station to the bus terminal is unsafe after dark and travelers should exercise caution at all times. For the eastern part of the country there's the Terminal del Oriente. Beware of the small "independent" bus services which are announced by "voceros" on both terminals. Although they have more flexible departure times, the buses can be small and uncomfortable, with speakers that blast loud music even at night.

There are also private carriers that offer more comfort. They also cost a little more. The most well known are Aeroexpresos Ejecutivos[5], Expresos Alianza and Expresos del Oriente, which operate from their own private terminals, something to consider if you plan on transferring for a destination they don’t cover.

Get around

Taxis can be easily hailed in the street and are generally (but not always) safe. They have no meters so prices should be agreed on before getting in. Some reports indicate that the situation has improved and there are fixed rates posted. Caracas traffic is notoriously bad and the metro is a better option if your destination is conveniently located near a station. Licensed taxis have yellow plates and while some private cars with white plates are taxis too, it’s generally safer to take a licensed cab.

Venezuelan taxi cab drivers may quote you about double the actual price when you ask how much a ride will be. Bargaining is totally acceptable in this case. Simply respond with a more reasonable price that you are willing to pay, and it’s more than likely you can meet in the middle. If the taxi driver continues to quote an outrageous price, simply walk away and try another.

The Caracas metro is clean, modern, safe and extremely cheap. A single journey costs just BsF 0.50, "ida y vuelta" (round trip) is BsF 0.90 and a 10 journey "multi abono" ticket is BsF 4.50. Because prices have changed little in recent years and bus fares have outpaced inflation, the metro is frequently overcrowded, particularly during peak hours.

The metro system is backed up by a network of metrobuses that depart from certain metro stations and take fixed routes to areas of the city not reached by the underground. Like the metro, metrobuses are cheap and clean, but passengers complain of bus shortages. Most services run only about every 20 minutes. The buses have fixed stops and will not pick up passengers elsewhere.

The ubiquitous minibuses, or por puestos, run along many main roads in Caracas, often ending up in obscure residential neighborhoods that are not accessible by metro. They can be flagged down anywhere and you can generally ask the driver to let you jump off whenever he stops, such as traffic lights. Although sometimes useful (for reaching the Sabas Nieves entrance to El Avila from the Altamira metro station) the buses are more expensive than the metro (BsF 1.20 a ride), slower, and are invariably in a very bad condition.

Paddleboats in the Parque del Este.
Paddleboats in the Parque del Este.

Caracas has more than enough sights and attractions to fill three or four days although it is often overlooked by international travelers.

  • La Plaza Bolivar, located near the Metro Capitolio. located in the city center. Statues of Simon Bolivar, close to the Congress and other government buildings. Nice examples ofcolonial architecture.  edit
  • La Casa Natal de Simon Bolivar. Bolivar's birthplace, also downtown. One of the few well-preserved colonial buildings with some great paintings and a museum. Next door is the Museo Bolivariano with some of Bolivar's war relics. Metro La Hoyada.  edit
  • Museo de Arte Colonial, Located in the Quinta Anauco on Av Panteon in San Bernardino. this is a lovely old house and garden that hosts small concerts some weekends.  edit
  • Universidad Central de Venezuela. was designated a World Heritage Site by the UN in 2000. Designed by Venezuela's most famous architect, Carlos Raul Villanueva, the university campus, known as the Ciudad Universitaria is a sprawling complex considered a masterpiece of 1950s and 1960s architecture blended in with art. A stroll around the grounds, keeping an eye open for moden art works by artists such as Fernand Leger. Metro Ciudad Universitaria.  edit
  • Jardin Botanico, located next to the Central University. is a well-kept garden with an impressive array of tropical plants and trees. Metro Ciudad Universitaria or Plaza Venezuela.  edit
  • Parque del Este, (located near the “Parque del Este” metro stop). This expansive park stretches on and holds many unexpected treats including a planetarium, a small zoo, and a cafe that is occasionally open to serve you a cafe con leche while you watch the turtles in a pond.  edit
  • Centro de Arte La Estancia, Avenida Francisco de Miranda,, +58 212 507 8815, [6]. 9:30a-4p Tu-F, 10a-4p Sa-Su. An art gallery situated in the middle of the lush and manicured gardens. Rotating exhibits by a variety of artists are shown.  edit
A view of Caracas from near the top of the Teleferico
A view of Caracas from near the top of the Teleferico
  • The Avila mountain to the north of Caracas is highly recommended for hiking, views of Caracas, and its fresh air. The Sabas Nieves entrance, accessible by bus from Altamira, is the most popular.
  • The Teleferico is a cable-car that takes visitors up the Avila. The ascent provides a beautiful view of the city. At the top (altitude approximately 2600 m), there is a view of Caracas to the south, and of the ocean (Caribbean Sea) to the north on a clear day. It will cost BsF 25 (US$ 12.60) to get a round-trip ticket to the teleferico. Reduced fares are available for students (BsF 15) and children (BsF 10), senior citizens over 60 are free. Take the ride up to Avila as early as possible before an afternoon haze obstructs your view from the top of the mountain. There are a few restaurants, many food kiosks, and numerous attractions suitable for children. These include a small skating rink, some small rides, and jungle-gyms. There is a well known fondue restaurant also located at the top. Some hiking trails branch off from the teleferico station, but without a map it is not easy to find them or know where they go, as they are not marked.
  • Centro Comercial Sambil. One of South America's largest shopping malls, with two movie theaters, dozens of restaurants and probably hundreds of shops. Popular destination for shopping and hanging out. Metro Chacao.  edit
  • Altamira. An exclusive neighborhood and shopping district in the eastern part of the city. Can be accessed easily by metro.  edit
  • Centro Comercial San Ignacio. Many boutique stores here, as well as lots of good bars and restaurants. A hub of Caracas nightlife.  edit
  • Centro Comercial El Recreo. Another large mall, located next door to the Gran Meliá Hotel. Metro Sabana Grande.  edit
  • Centro Ciudad Comercial Tamanaco (CCCT). An old but popular complex of shops, offices, restaurants and a couple of nightclubs. Take a Metrobus from the Altamira metro station.  edit
  • Centro Comercial El Tolón. An upmarket mall in the Las Mercedes neighborhood. 15 minutes walking from Chacaito metro.  edit
  • Centro Comercial Paseo Las Mercedes. A bit old fashioned but a good art house cinema and Oscar D'Leon's Mazukamba nightclub is here.  edit
Pabellon criollo.
Pabellon criollo.
  • El Granjero del Este, Av. Río de Janeiro, +58 212 991 6619. Open late. One of the better of the dozens of "areperas" dotted around town. Specializes in arepas, a savory corn-flour bread that doubles as Venezuela's traditional staple food. Pick from a dozen types of filling (including the classic Reina Pepiada - chicken, avocado, spring onions and mayo.) Or try a cachapa (a sweet corn pancake with a choice of toppings) or a nice steak with yuca. Wash it all down with beer, or with freshly made tropical juice. To do it the traditional way, go at 3 a.m., after a night out dancing. Cheap.  edit
  • Maute Grill, Av. Rio de Janeiro. open late. A very nice place, often crowded but rightfully so, the food and wine are outstanding. Expensive.  edit
  • Malabar, Calle Orinoco, +58 212 991-3131. Expensive but very good cuisine, mostly French, with a relaxed but trendy atmosphere.  edit
  • Aranjuez, Calle Madrid, Qunita Anacoa, +58 212 993-1326. One of the older steak houses in Caracas, with top quality Argentine and Venezuelan cuts of beef.  edit
  • Cafe Ole, Calle California at Calle Jalisco, +58 212 993-9059. This open air candlelight cafe is a popular haunt for after dinner cafe and some excellent desserts.  edit
  • Mamma Mia, Avenida Principal, +58 212 993-7230. A perennially popular though noisy restaurant with a good selection of Italian dishes.  edit
  • Avila Tei, Avenida San Felipe, Centro Coinasa, +58 212 263-1520. Excellent, if costly, Japanese restaurant.  edit
  • Chez Wong, Plaza La Castellana (facing the roundabout), +58 212 266-5015. Very good Chinese restaurant.  edit
  • Chili's, Calle Jose A Lamas, Torre La Castellana, +58 212 267-9146. A branch of the American Tex-Mex chain.  edit
  • La Estancia, Avenida Principal La Castellana, +58 212 261-1874. A famous beef/meat restaurant with traditional Spanish decor.  edit
  • La Romanina, Av Avila (between Calle Miranda and Av Mohedano, just west of Plaza La Castellana), +58 212 266-8819. A simple setting but very good thin crust pizzas.  edit
  • New Spizzico, Av Principal La Castellana (one block north of the Plaza), +58 212 267-8820. Very pleasant Mediterranean style decor with a lovely outdoor terrace. Good mostly Italian food but not with very generous portions.  edit
  • El Budare de la Castellana, Avenida Principal de La Castellana, con 1ra Transversal., +58 212 263-2696. Traditional Venezuelan Restaurant. Moderately priced and open 24 hours. About one block north and west of Plaza Altamira.  edit
  • El Tarantín de Valentina, Tercera transversal entre Segunda Avenida y Andrés Bello, Los Palos Grandes., +58 212 2858839, [7]. Tue-Fri: Noon - 10 pm, Weekends: 9 am - 5 pm. An excellent choice if you want to sample traditional Venezuelan food served with style and meticulous hygiene. Offers regional specialties from all over the country. The owner, Valentina Quintero, is the author of the most popular tourist guide about Venezuela for Venezuelans and something of a local celebrity.  edit
  • Cafe-Trattoria Mediterraneo, 1ra Avenida Los Palos Grandes, Edificio Oriental, +58 212 283-3680. Great retro decor, and a minimal but excellent menu. Recommended.  edit
  • Bar Basque, Alcabala a Peligro, La Candelaria, +58 212 572 4857. Caracas has a large Basque immigrant community and many excellent Basque restaurants. Bar Basque is the pick of the litter. Run by the same family for half a century, it's a legendary hangout for the politically connected. As in all Basque restaurants, the menu focuses on seafood. Superlative food. Expensive. Only a few tables, reservations required.  edit
  • El León. On the corner of La Castellana roundabout, this Caracas stalwart benefits from one of the best open air terraces in Caracas. Plastic tables and chairs are simple and the service is slow, but the beers are cheap and the atmosphere is good. This is a favorite hangout for Caracas' college crowd.
  • Whiskey Bar. Located in the "Centro Comercial San Ignacio" (Shopping Center), it has a similar layout to a typical East Coast lounge in the United States. This place is a popular hang-out for uppity Venezuelans. If you feel comfortable around posh and preppy crowds and you have certain buying power and trendy casual wear, this is a great place to enjoy people-watching while listening to great rock-alternative music.
  • El Maní Es Así. Located in a side street behind Sabana Grande, this remains Caracas' best-renowned salsa club where lower middle-class locals and tourists like to show off their moves, accompanied by live bands, till the early hours. To get a table, you'll probably have to pay 'servicio', i.e. agree to buy a bottle of rum or whisky. Sadly, the area around the club is not safe after dark and visitors should arrange taxis to avoid walking in the area.

Exclusive modern nightclubs:

  • Sake Bar.
  • Sawu.
  • Discovery.
  • Triskel.
Hotel Alba Caracas.
Hotel Alba Caracas.

Caracas has many hotels, but lacks youth hostels found in other South American countries. Backpackers will find that Caracas is not a cheap destination and there are not rooms available in the 20-30 USD typical hostel range. While the whole of the city is considered to be dangerous at night, it’s preferable to stay near Sabana Grande or farther east.

Many hotels in the Sabana Grande area will offer rooms on an hourly basis (euphemistically known as love hotels) which are primarily for unmarried Venezuelan couples.

Budget

Most hotels are in Sabana Grande, which is the geographic center of the city or midtown. The true downtown or historic city center, is known as "el centro". Always stay east of “el centro”. While Sabana Grande has affordable hotel rates (from $100 to $400 five-star), you need to be wary of occasional street crime in the form of purse snatching (on women) and pick-pocketing. the The Sabana Grande Boulevard currently sports high-shining lamp posts and police officers along the boulevard. However, crooked cops are also known to harass hippie-looking travelers during the day, searching for drugs [8]. Sabana Grande is a pleasantly walkable promenade, fantastic for people-watching and casual shopping. As for the large shopping malls around Sabana Grande, they are absolutely safe, especially one known as El Recreo. All this makes Sabana Grande one of the best place to stay for many. Neighborhoods further east or south such as Altamira and Las Mercedes offer safer accommodations, but at a much increased cost.

  • Hotel Altamira, Av Jose Felix Sosa, Altamira Sur (near Britanica Tower), +58 212 267-4284, +58 212 267-4255 (, fax: +58 (212) 267-1926). Around $70.  edit
  • Casa Luisa, Near El Hatillo, some 10-12km from midtown Caracas, (). Mrs. Luisa has a three bedroom apartment where she rents out 2 of the rooms (with space for 3 in each room). She prepares nice breakfasts and shares travel tips. $50 a night, $5 breakfast.  edit
  • Nelson's Place www.nelson.com.ve [9] - Nelson is a fully bilingual (English-Spanish) traveler and young college professor who has a nice apartment next to his office near Sabana Grande that he rents out for $60 a night. It is perfectly located in midtown Caracas, a block away from the Sabana Grande Boulevard, the metro station, and across the street from the El Recreo Shopping Mall. It has free internet. Nelson has a courteous driver that will pick you up at the airport and drive you safely to his place (included in reservation fee). He also helps you out with travel arrangements and tips to all over Venezuela, including Angel Falls.
  • Hotel Milenio, (located between the Ciudad Universitaria metro and the Sabana Grande metro).  edit
  • El Cid, + 58 212 263-1715. This residential hotel also caters for short visits. Excellently located in the La Castellana district, it offers an alternative to many hotels, though with aged wooden furniture and worn out rooms. The service is poor. BsF 280-360 ($130-167).  edit
  • Hotel Shelter Suites, Av Libertador and Av Jose Felix Sosa, Chacao (opposite Sambil shopping mall), +58 212 265-3860 (). Great location, clean and modern, this is a popular option and should be booked two weeks in advance. Max 2 people per room. Rooms from BsF 190.  edit
  • Hotel Savoy, (near the Alliance Francaise). From BsF 135.  edit
  • Hotel Alba Caracas, Avenida Mexico con Sur 25 (formerly the 'Caracas Hilton'). This once impressive Hilton hotel has suffered from the deterioration of central Caracas. Although close to the city's best museums, the Bellas Artes area is no longer the capital's finest and should not be wandered at night. In September 2007, the hotel was taken over by the state and aims to provide 'socialist tourism' services.  edit
  • Pestana Caracas Hotel & Suites, 1ª Avenida Urb. Santa Eduvigis, +58 212 208 1916 (), [10]. A modern and stylish hotel with all the amenities you might expect at the price.  edit
  • Gran Meliá, Ave. Casanova, urb. Bellomonte, 1050, +58 212 762-8111 (toll free: +1 800 745-8883, , fax: +58 212 762-3737), [11]. Upscale 5 star hotel. Located in Sabana Grande, this hotel is connected directly to the El Recreo shopping mall and a block away from the newly-restored Sabana Grande boulevard. Local attractions include Sabana Grande Boulevard, Plaza Bolívar, El Recreo Gallery, Teresa Carreño Theatre, and Cerro El Avila National Park, all in close proximity; and only 2 blocks north, the Sabana Grande metro station.</Many international celebrities, CEOs, royals and presidents stay here when they visit Venezuela. It boasts a guest list that includes Sting, Phil Collins, the Black Eyed Peas, the King of Spain and the Saudi Arabian royal family.  edit
  • JW Marriott Hotel Caracas, Av. Venezuela con Calle Mohedano, El Rosal, +58 212 957-2222 (toll free: 0 800 100-6139, fax: +58 212 957-1111), [12]. Luxury business hotel located in the center of the business district, the JW Marriott Hotel Caracas is the premier hotel in the city, becoming deservedly popular in recent years. Excellent accommodation, exceptional restaurant and good service.  edit
  • Hotel Intercontinental Tamanaco, Final Av. Principal De Las Mercedes, +58 212 909-7111 (fax: +58 212 909-7116), [13]. checkin: 3pm; checkout: 12pm.  edit
  • Embassy Suites, +58 212 700-4200. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm.  edit
  • Radisson Eurobuilding, Final Calle La Guairita, Chuao Caracas, 1064 A, +58 212 902 1111‎, [14].  edit

Stay safe

In general, Caracas is extremely unsafe. Avoid dangerous areas and leave flashy jewelry and brand clothing behind to avoid unwanted attention. Venezuelans are usually friendly and helpful, and political crime and harassment are rare.

In the case that you are robbed, simply hand over what is asked of you. Protesting can lead to a much more dangerous invitation. For this reason it is advisable to carry a “decoy” wallet with small bills (around $50). Most thieves carry guns and they will use them regardless of the consequences (there is a sense of immunity due to poor policing). As a traveler, it is unlikely that you will be the target of a kidnapping or violent crime. The “barrios" (poor neighborhoods) are to be avoided. These poor neighborhoods or shantytowns are mostly built into the hills around Caracas, similar to the "favelas" in Brazil. These neighborhoods are extremely dangerous, beware!

As with many other developing nations, petty theft is a problem. Ask hotel management to store your valuable when you leave your room and use a money belt for your passport/extra cash when traveling.

In Caracas, as in most places, being smart = being safe!

Contact

There are many "Centros de Conexiones" in which you can easily make domestic and international calls. There is also a growing number of internet cafes.

  • Free WiFi
  • Chili's, Torre La Castellana.  edit
  • Tony Roma's, Las Mercedes.  edit
  • Café Ole.  edit

Cope

Caracas has been the staging ground of violent political conflict in the last few years, as well as suffering from a high incidence of crime. While taking appropriate precautions (dressing down, keeping valuables out of sight and avoiding dangerous areas) will probably keep you out of harm's way, paranoia abounds. Traveling with a partner or in groups is advisable.

Sunset in La Guaira.
Sunset in La Guaira.

El Litoral, or the narrow band of coast between El Avila and the Caribbean Sea, is also known at the State of Vargas and the location of the best airport hotels. These beaches are not well known with visitors but are popular with Caraqueños on weekends. The area has been slow to recover from the disastrous mudslides of December 1999 which ironically made the beaches better. Still they are of lesser quality than the beaches of Choroni, Morrocoy, Mochima or Margarita.

  • La Guaira - historic port district
  • Macuto - long history as the favored among the urbanite Caracenos and most crowded on weekends
  • Caraballeda - upscale district with yacht marina
  • Naiguatá - surf and cultural festival zone
  • Catia La Mar - west of the airport with cheaper hotels that do airport pickup. Marginal neighborhood and beaches
  • El Hatillo - nice restaurants and pretty colonial architecture.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CARACAS, the principal city and the capital of the United States of Venezuela, situated at the western extremity of an elevated valley of the Venezuelan Coast Range known as the plain of Chacao, 62 m. S.S.E. of La Guaira, its port on the Caribbean coast, in lat. 10° 30' N., long. 67° 4' W. The plain is about II m. long by 3 m. wide, and is separated from the coast by a part of the mountain chain which extends along almost the entire water front of the republic. It is covered with well-cultivated plantations. The Guaira river, a branch of the Tuy, traverses the plain from west to east, and flows past the city on the south. Among its many small tributaries are the Catuche, Caroata and Anauco, which flow down through the city from the north and give it a natural surface drainage. The city is built at the narrow end of the valley and at the foot of the Cerro de Avila, and stands from 2887 to 3442 ft. above sea level, the elevation of the Plaza de Bolivar, its topographical centre, being 3025 ft. Two miles north-east is the famous Silla de Caracas, whose twin summits, like a gigantic old-fashioned saddle (silla), rise to an elevation of 8622 ft.; and the Naiguete, still farther eastward, overlooks the valley from a height of 9186 ft. The climate of Caracas is often described as that of perpetual spring. It is subject, however, to extreme and rapid variations in temperature, to alternations of dry and humid winds (the latter, called catias, being irritating and oppressive), to chilling night mists brought up from the coast by the westerly winds, and to other influences productive of malaria, catarrh, fevers, bilious disorders and rheumatism. The maximum and minimum temperatures range from 84° to 48° F., the annual mean being about 66°, and the daily variation is often as much as 15°. The city is built with its streets running between the cardinal points of the compass and crossing each other at right angles. Two intersecting central streets also divide the city into four sections, in each of which the streets are methodically named and numbered, as North 3rd, 5th, 7th, &c., or West 2nd, 4th, 6th, &c., according to direction and location. This method of numeration dates from the time of Guzman Blanco, but the common people adhere to the names bestowed upon the city squares in earlier times. The streets are narrow, but are clean and well-paved, and are lighted by electricity and gas. There are several handsome squares and public gardens, adorned with statues, trees and shrubbery. The principal square is the Plaza de Bolivar, the conventional centre of the city, in which stands a bronze equestrian statue of Bolivar, and on which face the cathedral, archbishop's residence, Casa Amarilla, national library, general post office and other public offices. The Independencia Park, formerly called Calvario Park, which occupies a hill on the west side of the city, is the largest and most attractive of the public gardens. Among the public edifices are the capitol, which occupies a whole square, the university, of nearly equal size, the cathedral, pantheon, masonic temple (built by the state in the spendthrift days of Guzman Blanco), national library, opera-house, and a number of large churches. The city is generously provided with all the modern public services, including two street car lines, local and long distance telephone lines, electric power and light, and waterworks. The principal water supply is derived from the Macarao river, 15 m. distant. Railway connexion with the port of La Guaira was opened in 1883 by means of a line 23 m. long. Another line (the Gran Ferrocarril de Venezuela) passes through the mountains to Valencia, III m. distant, and two short lines run to neighbouring villages, one to Petare and Santa Lucia, and the other to El Valle. The archbishop of Venezuela resides in Caracas and has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the dioceses of Ciudad Bolivar, Calabozo, Barquisimeto, Merida and Maracaibo. There are no manufactures of note.

Caracas was founded in 1567 by Diego de Losada under the pious title of Santiago de Leon de Caracas, and has been successively capital of the province of Caracas, of the captaincygeneral of Caracas and Venezuela, and of the republic of Venezuela. It is also one of the two chief cities, or capitals, of the Federal district. It was the birthplace of Simon Bolivar, and claims the distinction of being the first colony in South America to overthrow Spanish colonial authority. The city was almost totally destroyed by the great earthquake of 1812. In the war of independence it was repeatedly subjected to pillage and slaughter by both parties in the strife, and did not recover its losses for many years. In 181o its population was estimated at 50,000; seventy-one years later the census of 1881 gave it only 55,638. In 1891 its urban population was computed to be 72,429, which in 1904 was estimated to have increased to about 90,000.


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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English

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Proper noun

Caracas

  1. The capital of Venezuela.

Translations

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Simple English

Caracas
—  City  —
Santiago de León de Caracas
Top left: Simón Bolívar Center; top right: Parque Central Complex; middle: Plaza Venezuela Fountain; bottom left: Plaza Bolívar; bottom right: Los Próceres Monument.
Nickname(s): La Sultana del Ávila (The Avila's Sultana)
La Sucursal del Cielo (Heaven's Branch on Earth)
Country Venezuela
State Venezuelan Capital District
Miranda
Municipality Libertador
Founded 25 July 1567
Founder Diego de Losada
Metropolitan Municipalities: Libertador, Chacao, Baruta, Sucre, El Hatillo
Government
 - Type Mayor-council
 - Mayor Antonio Ledezma (ABP)
Area
 - Metro 1,930 km2 (745.2 sq mi)
Elevation 900 m (2,953 ft)
Population (2009)
 Density 1,431.5/km2 (3,707.6/sq mi)
 Metro 5,196,514
 - Demonym caraqueño (m), caraqueña (f)
Time zone VST (UTC-04:30)
 - Summer (DST) not observed (UTC-04:30)


Caracas is the capital city of Venezuela. Santiago de Losada founded the city in 1567. It is where Simon Bolivar was born. The city has 6 million people who live in the metropolitan area. Caracas is the center of the economical activity of the country and also hosts the main government offices.

Sports

All the best teams of the sports done in Venezuela are concentrated in the metropolitan area of Caracas. Between those teams we have:

  • baseball: Leones de Caracas
  • football: Deportivo Italia; Deportivo Petare; Caracas FC.

Famous sites

  • Avila National Park
  • Humbolt Tramway
  • Simon Bolivar Birthplace
  • Caracas Cathedral
  • Bolivar Square
  • Altamira Square
  • East Park
  • Los Proceres
  • Parque Central
  • Sambil Mall



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