Destinations: – Colombia: – Medellin: – Escaleras Eléctricas: – Comuna 13
A system of outdoor escalators has been built in what was once one of the poorest parts of the city of Medellin.
In the barrio (district) of Las Independencias la Comuna 13 de Medellin which sprawls down the impossibly steep mountainside on the outskirts of Medellin, twelve thousand citizens have benefited from the installation.
Not so long ago this area was considered dangerous and off limits to most people. Steeped in poverty crime was rife among the narrow little streets and the inhabitants felt disengaged and forgotten by the government. The building of this new transport system has several benefits.
• It makes the residents feel a part of the city of Medellin; that the government does care about them enough to invest money in their run down area and to include them in the modern transport system that serves the city.
• It opens the area up, enabling police and security forces easier access and the ability to respond more quickly to crime and troubles
• It has provided a canvas for some astounding graffiti and street art and a space for community exhibits, performances and events which builds a more cohesive community among the residents.
• It has opened the area up to tourists and visitors who are attracted by the street art and the views over the city. Some property prices have began to rise as new residents are attracted to this area and judging by the lovingly painted houses and tiny little gardens and terraces there is a pride in this area.
1500 journeys are taken on these escalators daily, some by visitors or tourists but the majority are made by the local inhabitants of this area just going about their day to day business, going to school or work, visiting friends and family or going to the shops Prior to the installation of this system the only way to reach the majority of the houses here was on foot, with people heaving children, food and everything else up the 350 concrete steps and along the narrow alleyways which clung to the side of the incredibly steep hillside, inaccessible by cars or buses.
This area still has a reputation for danger and crime so be careful when you visit. Do not wear expensive jewellery or flash your camera around, although you will want to bring a camera for the colourful murals. Even the tin roofs of the houses have not escaped the paint brush and spray cans with flowers and birds shining in the sun. University students, artists and local people have contributed to the art which covers walls, doors and alleyways.
How to get there. Take the Metro train to San Javier station. Cross the road outside the station at San Javier and wait for the bus # 221. Tell your driver that you want to get out at the escalaras eléctricas. You will be on the bus for about fifteen minutes. Leaving the bus you need to continue to climb, bearing slightly to the right. You will emerge at the top of the system of escalators where you will find the offices and administration centre housed in a large concrete building.
At the time of writing the number of the bus was correct.
This post has been updated. You can find the latest article at https://www.scarletjonestravels.com/south-america/escaleras-electricas-fun-things-medellin/