December marks the start of Caracas' dry season, and it is a good time to escape the city for the mountains. El Ávila range looms north of the city and the park is surprisingly accessible from downtown. Hikers and walkers will find more than 200 kilometers (124.27 miles) of trails, but a cable car, or teleférico, climbs the imposing slopes in a quick 12-minute ride for those desiring a faster ascent. On clear days, El Ávila Peak offers breathtaking views of Caracas and the Caribbean.
Tucked away off one of the streets near Plaza Bolivar, the birthplace of El Libertador Simon Bolivar is no longer the tranquil house it once was due to its current popularity. Known as Casa Natal del Libertador, this quaint 17th Century house will take you back in time to the colonial era. A single story house, the Casa opens up to beautiful courtyards and patios. While its architecture is largely Spanish Colonial, the front facade is built in stone which differs from more characteristic colonial houses. The corridors, antique furniture and chambers depict Bolivar's journey from being a child to becoming Venezuela's most prominent national leader. Artwork by Tito Salas depicting Bolivar's significant life events are displayed inside the house. This house is a labyrinth of memories and a peek into the life of one of the most celebrated heroes of Venezuela.
An illustrious monument to the national heroes of Venezuela, the National Pantheon is also an exquisite architectural and historical landmark. Built originally in the colonial style in the 1870s, the pantheon was revamped to become one of the first Neo-Gothic buildings in Venezuela. Awash in light pink, the aisles showcase some of the bravest national heroes and significant luminaries in Venezuelan history. The central nave of the interior is dominated by El Libertador Simon Bolivar, the most eminent of Venezuela's national leaders, with his sarcophagus placed at the earlier site of the altar. A magnificent Baccarat chandelier with 4,000 shards and over 200 lights festoons the ceiling. Excellent works of art by Tito Salas hang on the ceilings and are a great draw for art connoisseurs. A symbol of national pride and art, the National Pantheon is a glorious tribute to the greatest personalities of Venezuela.
In Venezuela, Acquavella is synonymous with the concept of art gallery, since it is one of the oldest institutions of this type in the country. Founded in 1954, it makes use of all the technological resources available to project its work worldwide. At its website, you can access the latest exhibition in case you have not been able to see it at the gallery. Acquavella has been the home to and promoter of works by important Venezuelan painters, such as Cabré, Castillo, Golding and Monasterios. It continually presents collective and individual exhibitions. At the web site, information about 14 permanent collections may also be found. Admission is free.
This museum was opened in 1976, and is devoted to the preservation and exhibition of works by Venezuelan artists from Colonial times to present day. The Permanent Collection includes relevant names from the 19th Century like Arturo Michelena, Cristobal Rojas, Martin Tovar y Tovar and Tito Salas; among later artists are Francisco Narvaez and Hector Poleo, plus a vast selection of works by Armando Reveron. Present Venezuelan art is represented by Alejandro Otero, Francisco Hung, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Jacobo Borges, Regulo Perez, Meyer Vaisman and other great creators. The museum also presents temporary exhibitions coming from public or private collections.
This museum is more oriented towards the spread of knowledge than to mere exhibition. The interested public visits it regularly, since it organizes exhibitions on specific topics, such as biodiversity, petroleum, communications and nutrition. An area that captivates both young and not so young is one that presents a sizeable collection of stuffed mammals of all sizes, including a giraffe, placed in a painstaking recreation of their natural environment.
The warm yet sober elegance of this museum, created in 1950, is divided into four areas dedicated to the Colonial Period, Porcelain and Ceramics, the Bolívar Collection and Miscellanies. In the Colonial Period section, the museum boasts furniture, paintings and miscellaneous objects. The Ceramic collection includes crockery of different styles and uses, which belonged to relevant families such as the Bolívars. Some of these pieces, as well as other objects, also form part of the Bolívar collection. Apart from the collections, this foundation also has highly valuable documents relating to 19th century Venezuela, including the Simón Bolívar archive.
This exhibition hall has 400 square meters of open exhibition space, which permits great flexibility in the disposition of the elements for each show. This adaptability is of great importance, since the main objective of this hall is to promote alternative and experimental modern art from both Venezuela and overseas. It was inaugurated in 1957, and besides the exhibitions, it holds auctions of the works of Venezuelan artists and pieces that even include some from the colonial period. Admission is free.
This room, as is the case with the Sala RG, is located at the Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos Rómulo Gallegos (CELARG), an institution created in 1974 and named after the Venezuelan novelist and ex-President. La Nueva Galería, or New Gallery, was created more recently than the RG, and takes advantage of the hall leading to the theaters belonging to this center and the surrounding space. Its main purpose is the presentation of young artists and the promotion of their works.
The Goethe Institut is a German culture center, aimed at fostering cultural development.
Galería Freites was first opened in 1980. It is more than a place to display and sell works of art. They have a proven track record with regards to the promotion and projection of national and international artists, especially paintings and sculptures. The gallery represents artists like Santiago Cárdenas, Lynn Chadwick, Manuel Espinoza and Edgar Sánchez. It also has a branch in Coral Gables, in Florida (US), which has enabled the promotion of Venezuelan artists and the organization of exhibits of these artists abroad. Admission is free.
Although the current Universidad Central de Venezuela extends to different postal areas and underground stations, we recommend you begin your visit at Plaza Venezuela. The whole complex is designed like a real town, and it even has its own fire station. The university is the design of modernist architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva, who was inspired by the words of Le Corbusier, “an experience in the synthesis of the arts.” You will also find numerous sculptures, glassworks, murals and mosaics, as well as art incorporated into engineering works. On the ninth floor of the Rectorado building, in the Departmento de Publicaciones, you will be able to obtain a copy of the “Guía de las Obras de arte de la Universidad,” which tells you all about art within the university campus.