Graffiti Art in Communa 13: Medellin, Colombia

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Medellin, Colombia is known for there dope graffiti art. I was told by expats that I must I sign up for a free Communa 13 tour with Zippy Tours to see the best street art.

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This picture looks like it was drawn just for me
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Notice the detail in this photo

Transportation 

I used UBER to transport me to the San Javier Train Station. It is to be noted that UBER is technically illegal in Colombia. You can still use the app but the driver may ask you to sit in the front seat, so it does not appear as if you are using a taxi-like service.

I was praying that I would make it on time to the tour because of traffic. We were caught behind bicycle riders which significantly delayed our drive time. I attempted to communicate with the driver asking if he would assist in calling the tour company. It was an epic FAIL because he did not understand my mediocre Spanish. Thank God, Zippy tour guides, Laura and David were still waiting for stragglers such as me.

Communa 13 History 

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About 10 minutes later, we began our uphill trek to Communa 13. In the 80’s and 90’s, drug cartels were loyal to drug pin Pablo Escobar. This neighborhood was once labeled as the most dangerous place in the world due to the high rates of crime, gang and drug activity.  Laura our tour guide remembers this time in history as she personally has friends and family that were negatively impacted and killed.

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Location and structure of houses made it easy to traffic drugs.

In October 2002, “Operation Orion” was ordered by the Colombian government and then president Alvara Uribe Velez. The goal was to take down the left wing Guerrillas located in Communa 13. Over 1000, police and armed military invaded the community over several days. Unfortunately, many of the community members were caught in the crossfire. Many were arrested, wounded, killed or simply disappeared. Years later residents of the community still suffer from the innocent lives that were lost during that time.

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Houses represent families that died and a young boy that was killed during Operation Orion
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White rags represent peace after several days of Operation Orion

 

Graffiti Art 

Young people have used hip-hop and graffiti art as a form of self-expression. Beautiful murals are adorned throughout Communa 13.

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Mural I was trying to take a picture of when resident became upset.

Revitalizing Communa 13

 Laura our tour guide was extremely proud to be conducting the Communa 13 tour because several years ago, she stated that tourist would not be free to come to this neighborhood.

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Laura & I

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In order to revive the community, They have built the orange escalators. Prior to the escalators being built, resident had to take a 35-minute strenuous hike up the hill to there homes. It now takes 6 minutes to reach their destination.

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We also saw young kids break dancing and small children performing. It reminded me of my cousins making up songs and dances to perform for our family.

It is a free tour but prepared to tip your guides at the conclusion of the tour. The tour guides do not take you back to the San Javier station. I did not know this and was pretty nervous about using the bus and train by myself because I don’t speak Spanish. I’m happy to report that the train is very similar to stations in Los Angeles and therefore easy to navigate. I didn’t have the opportunity to take the metro cables but I hear the ariel views are awesome.

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If you visit Medellin, I highly recommend you take the Graffiti Communa 13 tour as it is rich in history and culture.

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Hey Dad! Don’t Worry I’m safe! Love you !
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Hey Mama! Don’t Worry I’m safe! Love you

Which mural stood out to you the most and why? I hope you learned something new about Communa 13 and graffiti art!

14 Comments

  1. I always love your travel posts. I also enjoy following you on IG. It’s like I’m getting an exclusive before the blog comes out lol. I love how you provided history as well as touristy things/sights.

  2. Hey Tiffany..beautiful art caltured as always! I think the two of the boys with the birds on thwir shoulders was my fave.

  3. All of this art is beautiful. I love how detailed it is and how so much of it represents the people from all ethnic backgrounds.

  4. Even though the city is full, poverty abounds, and the people need more, their raw talent is truly apparent. The murals depict pain and beauty at the same time.

  5. Girl I need to travel with you one day! I just saw some really cheap tickets to Medellin Colombia so now I would like to go, I am loving these graffiti walls!

  6. The art is amazing in Colombia. I can see how it would upsets the neighbors for people to be in their neighborhood taking pictures, but it kind of comes with the territory. I would love to go to Columbia but have been afraid because of the stigma that comes with Columbia.

    • Please go to Colombia if you can, while there is still a stigma, i felt very safe and always believe that you should see things for yourself. Let me know if you have any questions if you decide to go 🙂

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