Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture (Palacio del la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe) is a very distinctive building located in El Centro in Medellín. It is likely the most photographed building in the city.
The building was designed by Belgian architect Agustin Goovaerts in the Gothic Revival style. With its use of intricate black and white bricks the building really stands out as an architectural gem in the city.
The dome in the building was modeled upon New York City skyscrapers. Most of all it was built using metal supports from Belgium with a complicated structure of nuts and bolts, rather than traditional welding methods.
Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture is located in El Centro right next to Plaza Botero and also near to Museo de Antioquia. Note the above photo of Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture is by Jenny Bojinova.
History of Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture
General Pedro Nel Ospina, who was the Governor of Antioquia and later became the President of Colombia, requested construction of the building along with several others in 1920.
Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace was originally the official building for the Government of Antioquia. It was known as “Calibío Palace” when the Government of Antioquia used the building.
First of all, construction of the building began in 1925. But work was suspended in 1929 due a financial crisis in the country. Work was resumed in 1932. This construction phase included the construction of the building’s octagonal unit and the eastern wing, and the stairs with their corresponding lobbies and balconies on the Bolivar street side of the building.
In 1937, the palace started to be abandoned by the government. Furthermore, the unfinished halls in the building were closed with makeshift barriers. Because of a deteriorating situation in the building, the government began to plan construction of another building as the seat of the Government of Antioquia.
Finally, a final phase of construction started in 1966 when the architects Gerardo Mejía, Gustavo Restrepo and Gustavo Aristizábal were given the mission to complete the building. And in 1982, the building was declared a National Monument of Colombia.
In 1987, the building was renamed to Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace in honor of Colombian General Rafael Uribe Uribe who fought in the Thousand Days War. And in 1988, the building was designated as the seat of the then Cultural Extension Directorate of the Ministry of Education and Culture of Antioquia (now known as the Institute of Culture and Heritage of Antioquia).
Restoration of Rafeal Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture
Starting in 1988 major restoration work was done in the building to get it to its current more usable state. This was reportedly an 11-year project that employed up to 120 people including architects, engineers, builders, electricians, carpenters and plumbers.
In the building, there are many photos displayed for visitors that show the major restoration activities in the building.
Inside Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture
Inside the Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture building is mainly the many offices of the Institute of Culture and Heritage of Antioquia.
The exterior of the building is very impressive. Most notably, every day thousands of tourists take photos of the exterior of the distinctive Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture building. But not many tourists enter the building as there really isn’t that much to see in the building.
Inside the building, visitors reportedly have access to photographic and music archives. In addition, there is a small art gallery, a library, an interior courtyard and documentation centers. Also in the dome, there is an auditorium used to show films on occasion.
The city of Medellín considers Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture to be a museum but honestly there really isn’t much to see in the building.
Probably the most worthwhile thing to do in the building is walk up to the fourth floor where you can get some views of El Centro. But for most tourists its not really worth entering.
How to Get to Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture
Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture is conveniently located right next to the Parque Berrio metro station on Line A. In addition, the Palace is located right next to Botero Plaza and across the plaza from Museo de Antioquia.
Also, taxis or Uber are alternative ways to get there. You can ask any taxi or Uber driver to take you to Palacio del la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe. Almost every driver in the city will know where it is. And it is normally relatively easy to catch taxis nearby.
During the day, there will be many tourists in the area taking photos. But still take care to watch your valuables. There is normally a noticeable police presence in the area during the day, so it is relatively safe. However, keep in mind that street crime is common in El Centro, particularly after dark.
Address: Carrera 51 # 52-01, El Centro
Phone: +57 4 320 9780
Hours: Monday to Friday: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm; Saturday: 8:00 am – 3:30 pm; Sunday and Holidays: closed.
Cost: Entrance is free to this public building.
Museums in Medellín
On the Medellin Guru website, we have looked at 17 different museums in Medellín:
- Museo de Antioquia – the most popular museum in Medellín, worth visiting. It’s best known for a collection of art of Medellín-born artist Fernando Botero.
- Medellín’s Museo de Arte Moderno (Modern Art Museum) – worth a visit with an intriguing mix of exhibitions located in a striking building.
- Parque Explora – Medellín’s popular interactive science museum and aquarium. It has over 300 activities and the largest freshwater aquarium in South America.
- Jardín Botánico – Medellín’s free botanical gardens that is also considered a museum with over 1,000 different living plants on display.
- Planetario de Medellín – Medellín’s Planetarium and space museum that is very popular and worth seeing, particularly with kids.
- Museo El Castillo – Medellín’s beautiful Gothic-style castle that is a museum.
- Museo Cementerio San Pedro – a cemetery that is also a popular museum in Medellín worth visiting. It also has a church with many beautiful stained-glass windows.
- Museo Casa de la Memoria – a museum dedicated to honoring the victims of urban conflict in Medellín and Colombia and is worth seeing to better understand the city and country.
- Museo del Agua – the popular Medellín water museum.
- Casa Museo Otraparte – a hidden gem in Envigado consisting of a museum, cultural space and café dedicated to the life and works of Colombian philosopher Fernando González.
- Museo Universidad Antioquia (MUUA) – a Medellín museum located on the University of Antioquia’s campus with a huge collection of nearly 40,000 archaeological and natural history pieces.
- Museo Casa Gardeliana – a museum located in Medellín that is dedicated to tango music and musician Carlos Gardel.
- Pedro Nel Gómez Casa Museo – a museum located in Aranjuez that is dedicated to the life and works of important Colombian artist Pedro Nel Gómez who is best known for his extensive work as a muralist.
- Museo Etnográfico Miguel Angel Builes – a hidden gem museum in Medellín dedicated to showing the cultural diversity of indigenous and ethnic groups in Colombia.
- Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture – Medellín’s palace in El Centro is one of the most photographed buildings in the city. It’s considered a museum by the city of Medellín but there aren’t very many exhibits to see inside.
- Museo Entomológico Piedras Blancas (MEPB) – an insect museum located at the Parque Ecológico Piedras Blancas, which is an ecological park located in Santa Elena near Medellín.
- Museo de Ciudad – Medellín’s City Museum, which is located next to Pueblito Paisa. This museum has a scale model of the city and a photo exhibit with photos from the 1890s to about 1950 showing the history of the city of Medellín.
The 10 English-language Colombia guidebooks that I have are missing several of these museums. And each guidebook only includes six to nine out of the 17 museums in Medellín we have looked at.
The Bottom Line: Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture
Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture is a very impressive building from the outside. So, it’s likely the most photographed building in Medellín.
While the city considers this building a museum, you will likely be disappointed by how few exhibits there really are to see in the building. But at least it’s free to enter.
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