Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Caracas is the capital of Venezuela. It is located in the north of the country, following the contours of a narrow mountain valley. The valley's temperatures are springlike, and the urbanizable terrain of the Caracas Valley lies between 2,500 and 3,000 feet above sea level. The Valley is close to the Caribbean Sea , separated from the coast by a wall of mountains that rise to more than 7,000 feet. The historic center of Caracas, known as the Libertador Department, had a population of 1,9 million in 2004. The metropolitan area, or Caracas region, boasted a population of 5.1 million in 2004.
As the economy of oil-rich Venezuela grew steadily during the first part of the 20th century, Caracas became one of Latin America's economical centers, and was also known as the preferred hub between Europe and South America. The Concorde used to fly weekly to Caracas implying its geographical and economical importance.
The Flag of Caracas consists of a burgundy red field with the version of the Coat of Arms of the City effective since the decade of 1980. The red field, remembrance of the predominant color in the royal pennants of Colonial Caracas, symbolizes the blood spilled by Caraquenian people in favor to the Independence and the highest Ideals of the Venezuelan Nation. The original design of the Caracas Flag appeared in the decade of 1980 and consisted of a burgundy red cloth with the version of the then adopted and still effective Coat of Arms located to the canton. Later 1994, approximately and presumably as a result of the change of municipal authorities, it was decided to place the Caracas CoA slightly increased of size on the center of the field, configuration that maintains at the present time.
Coat of Arms
The Coat of Arms of the City of Caracas was adopted by the Libertador Municipality to identify itself and later the Metropolitan Mayor Office assumed the lion, the scallop and the St. James Cross for the same aim. Symbollogically speaking, this raised a conflict then that Caracas identifies the Coat of Arms of the Capital of the Republic.
Places of Interest
- Capitolio Nacional
The National Capitol occupies an entire city block, and, with its golden domes and neoclassical pediments, can seem even bigger. The building was commissioned by Guzmán Blanco in the 1870s, and is most famous for its Salón Elíptico , an oval hall with a mural-covered dome and walls lined with portraits of the country's great and good.
Visit on Independence Day and you'll catch a glimpse of the original Act of Independence of 1811, installed inside a pedestal topped by a bust of Bolívar and displayed only on this most auspicious of public days. The halls surrounding the salon are daubed with battle scenes commemorating Venezuela's fight for independence.
- Casa Natal de Bolívar
Skyscrapers may loom overhead, but thankfully there's more than a hint of original colonial flavour in this neatly proportioned reconstruction of the house where Simón Bolívar was born on July 24, 1783. The museum's exhibits include period weapons, banners and uniforms.
Much of the original colonial interior has been replaced by monumental paintings of battle scenes, but more personal relics can be seen in the nearby Museo Bolivariano . Pride of place goes to the coffin in which Bolívar's remains were brought from Colombia; his ashes now rest in the National Pantheon .
Bolívar's funeral was held 12 years after his death at the Iglesia de San Francisco , just a few blocks west, and it was also here that he was proclaimed 'El Libertador ' in 1813. The church dazzles the eye with its richly gilded baroque altarpieces, and still retains much of its original colonial interior, despite being given a modernising once-over by Guzmán Blanco.
- Museo de Arte Colonial
The gardens that surround this museum are almost as enticing as its interior. The museum is housed in a gorgeous colonial country mansion known as Quinta de Anauco , which is surrounded by beautiful greenery. Inside the house you'll find meticulously restored rooms, filled with carefully selected works of art, furniture and period household odds and ends.
The quinta was well outside the historic town when it was built back in 1797, but today it's an oasis in the inner suburb of San Bernardino. Head there late on a Sunday morning and you might catch a chamber music concert in rooms which were once the house stables.
- Panteón Nacional
Venezuela's most venerated building is five blocks north of Plaza Bolívar , on the northern edge of the old town. Formerly a church, the building was given its new purpose as the final resting place for eminent Venezuelans by Guzmán Blanco in 1874. The entire central nave is dedicated to Bolívar, with the altar's place taken by the hero's bronze sarcophagus, while lesser luminaries are relegated to the aisles. The national pantheon's vault is covered with 1930s paintings depicting scenes from Bolívar's life, and the huge crystal chandelier glittering overhead was installed in 1883 on the centennial of his birth. It's worth hanging around to catch the ceremonial changing of the guard, held several times a day.
- Parque Central
An short saunter east of Plaza Bolívar takes you from historic to futuristic Caracas. Rather than a welcome expanse of inner-city greenery, this park is a concrete complex of five high-rise residential slabs of somewhat apocalyptic-appearing architecture, crowned by two 53-storey octagonal towers while one of them is currently going under major repairs due to the fire which burned the building on October 17, 2004.
Parque Central is Caracas' art and culture hub, loaded with museums, cinemas, the Complejo Cultural performing-arts center and the Ateneo de Caracas , home to the esteemed Rajatabla theatre company. The Mirador de la Torre Oeste , on the 52nd floor, gives a 360° bird's-eye view of the city.
- Plaza Bolívar
Leafy Plaza Bolívar is the focus of the old town with the inevitable monument to El Libertador , Simon Bolívar, at its heart. Modern high-rise buildings have overpowered much of the colonial flavour of Caracas' founding neighborhood. But the lively area still boasts some important sites.
The Museo Caracas on the ground floor highlights local history, and has some great models of the city as it appeared in the early 19th century and 1930s. To grasp just how much this city of almost five million has grown, take a look at the map dating from 1578 in the building's central courtyard.
The city has two main football stadiums: The Olympic Stadium (35,000) and the Brigido Iriarte Stadium with a capacity of 25,000 seats (home of the Caracas Futbol Club and Italchacao Club). Baseball teams Tiburones de la Guaira and Leones del Caracas also play on their shared stadium Estadio Universitario (33,000 seats).
The Caracas metro has been in operation since 1983 and is the safest and quickest way to travel in the city.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details