Artisan crafts are an integral part of Colombian heritage, representing the country’s diverse indigenous groups, rich historical roots and vibrant artistic community.
With a wealth of cultural workshops scattered throughout Bogota, visitors have the unique opportunity to delve into the world of local artisans, learn the intricacies of their craft and even engage in hands-on creation of their own Colombian souvenirs.
In this comprehensive guide, we explore some of the most noteworthy artisan workshops in Bogota, their fascinating backgrounds and the captivating stories behind their crafts.
Bogota’s Cultural Workshops
The Inspiring Story of La Boquilla’s Coconut Crafts
In 2008 an NGO called ProBoquilla initiated a craft class that brought together seven women from La Boquilla (Cartagena). Thereby marking the inception of the now-celebrated project: ‘Madres-Cabeza de Familia y sus Cocos.’
These women, armed with the skills acquired from the class, began crafting jewelry, silverware, containers, vases, belts and accessories out of coconuts. Hence the name ‘Madres-Cabeza de Familia y sus Cocos.’
The intricate process of crafting these items is a labor-intensive one that involves soaking, cleaning, cutting and polishing the coconuts. With each piece crafted often taking several hours to complete.
Despite the demanding nature of the process, the final results are awe-inspiring. Each piece of craftwork is a testament not only to the hard work and dedication that goes into its creation but also to the remarkable women who create them.
Some of their crafts can be found for sale in the souvenir shops of Bogotá. Including in the Artesanías de Colombia below.
Exquisite Handicrafts of Artesanías de Colombia
Located in downtown Bogota, Artesanías de Colombia is a semi-governmental organization dedicated to promoting Colombian folk art. Their headquarters, nestled within a colonial complex of buildings, houses one of the most esteemed handicraft stores in the city.
Artesanías de Colombia offers a variety of very high-quality crafts that make for the perfect wedding or birthday gift. The store’s product presentation is top-notch and while the crafts may be on the pricier side, the quality and authenticity they offer ensure they’re worth every penny.
Even if you’re not necessarily looking to buy a souvenir while in Bogota, I still believe you should visit Artesanías de Colombia to learn about Colombia’s indigenous artisans and their works. You should think of the Artesanías de Colombia as an art gallery where you not only can you view the works and be educated on their origin, but also purchase them if you wish.
A Treasure Trove of Colombian Handicrafts at La Casona del Museo
Situated next-door to the Gold Museum, La Casona del Museo is a hub for a myriad of Colombian handicrafts. The store boasts a wide array of unique crafts, including mochilas, hammocks, emeralds, colorful ethnic shoes, purses and bags.
While it may appear as a typical tourist trap at first glance, La Casona del Museo offers a diverse selection of Colombian handicrafts that are hard to find elsewhere. The store’s salespeople are always eager to assist and make the shopping experience enjoyable and rewarding.
But a word of caution here, don’t buy emeralds at La Casona del Museo until you have learnt about Colombian emeralds. Next door to La Casona del Museo and in front of the Gold Museum, you will find the International Emerald Museum.
The guides at the International Emerald Museum will teach you what you’re looking for when selecting an emerald and how to spot a fake or low quality item. It also has one of the best views out over Bogotá from up high in the tower.
The Unique Replicas of Colombian Churches at Artesanía de Guacamayas
Located within the Colombia Linda Commercial Center, Artesanía de Guacamayas offers a unique opportunity for tourists to purchase small replicas of traditional Colombian churches. These miniature churches, available at a pocket-friendly price, make for great and easy-to-pack gifts.
A Diverse Array of Crafts at Galería Artesanal de Colombia
Galería Artesanal de Colombia (Craft Gallery Colombia) is a mini mall of artesanías situated near the Museo del Oro in downtown Bogota. The gallery offers a wide assortment of Colombian crafts, including hammocks, ethnically decorated purses and wallets, mochilas, colorful sandals and shoes.
Despite the seemingly cluttered display of items, visitors can find a variety of crafts not easily available elsewhere in Bogota. And often at more affordable prices. The gallery is a one-stop-shop for tourists looking to buy authentic Colombian handicrafts.
High-Quality Crafts at Escuela de Artes y Oficios Santo Domingo Store
The Escuela de Artes y Oficios Santo Domingo, located just a block off the Plaza de Bolivar, is a haven for high-quality artisan crafts. The school offers apprenticeships in carpentry, weaving, embroidery, leather and silver work. And the crafts produced by its graduates and teachers are nothing short of exceptional.
Motalas: A Source for Traditional Indigenous Crafts
Motalas, located in the Centro Artesanal Plaza Bolivar, specializes in selling molas, traditional indigenous sewn tableaux from the area of Colombia bordering Panama. The store also offers bags, shoes and wallets with molas incorporated into them.
Artesanías el Zipa: A Hidden Gem in the Unicentro Shopping Center
Tucked away behind the Zara Men’s Store in the Unicentro Shopping Center is Artesanías el Zipa, a small enclave of artesanía offerings. Despite its smaller size, the store offers a wide selection of Colombian crafts. It’s the perfect store for finding that special Colombian gift while visiting the Unicentro Shopping Center.
High-End Artesanías at Artesanías de Colombia/El Chico
Artesanías de Colombia/El Chico offers a premium shopping experience for Colombian artesanías. The store is known for its finely and expertly produced crafts, offering fair prices for high-quality items. And it has so many different items you could furnish your Colombian home from shopping at the Artesanías de Colombia/El Chico.
The friendly and knowledgeable staff also provide excellent packing services for gifts. They will gift wrap your purchase for you. So it’s ready to be given as a gift to your loved ones when you get home.
Workshop Groups and Tours – Make your Own Souvenir
The cultural workshops in Bogota offer a unique insight into the traditional art of Colombian crafts. Whether it’s learning about the process of crafting, engaging in a hands-on experience, or purchasing a beautiful piece of art, these workshops offer an enriching and unforgettable experience for anyone interested in Colombian culture and art.
Two of the best classes you can take while touring Bogotá are the emerald ring workshop, where you can make your own emerald ring. And the Wayuu mochila backpack workshop, where you’ll learn all about the origins of this fashion accessory and the Wayuu indigenous communities from Northern Colombia who produce them.
Where Can I Get More Information On Bogotá?
I’ve made my Bogotá Colombia City Guide available on this website. And I would strongly recommend you read it before traveling to Colombia. It will help you navigate Bogotá and Colombian society.
My Bogotá Colombia City Guide will save you a lot of time and a significant amount of money on your trip to Colombia. Colombia is not the sort of destination in which you can just arrive unprepared.
Read the Bogotá Colombia City Guide here.