Santa Fe Do Bogota, an inland city of the United States of Colombia, capital of the state of Cundinamarca and of the republic, on the picturesque and fertile plateau of Bogota. 8,671 feet above the sea, in lat. 4° 35' 48" N. and lorn 74° 12' W.; pop. about 46,000. Viewed from a distance the city, slightly elevated above the plain and rising in the form of an amphitheatre, presents a pleasing aspect. Two lofty mountains, the Guadalupe and Monserrate, rise on the east and send down a copious supply of water to be distributed through the town by means of numerous public and private fountains. The streets are regular and bisect each other at right angles, but are narrow, ill-paved, badly lighted, and in many parts covered with grass, the city traffic being exclusively carried on by mules. Streams of water running down the middle of many of the thoroughfares are made the receptacle of filth. Two of these streams, more voluminous than the rest, are called rivers, and are crossed by several neat and well built stone bridges. The Calle Real or principal street runs the entire length of the city, is well paved, and terminates in a spacious square, embellished with a statue of Bolivar, and bordered by an arcade, where a market is held weekly.
The private houses are of sun-dried bricks (adobes), whitewashed, covered with red tiles, and usually built low on account of the liability to earthquakes. In consequence of the influx of foreigners, the interior arrangement of dwellings has materially improved of late years, as has also the style of building; the old-fashioned grating has very generally been superseded by glass in the windows; walls are painted, and carpets and other furniture are imported from Europe and the United States. There are few chimneys, stoves alone being in use. The stores are for the most part badly kept and dingy, the only admission for light being through the door. Of the public edifices the most noteworthy are the government mansion, luxuriously appointed, and occupied by the president and the various officers of the ministerial departments; the house of congress; and the observatory, ootagonal in form and comprising three separate piles. Bogota has a mint, a theatre, a university, a national academy, four colleges, two of which date from the 17th century, and medical law, normal, and infant schools.
There is a museum in which are preserved petrified bones of mastodons from Tunja, the robe or acro of Atahuallpa's wife, Pizarro's standard, portraits of the Spanish viceroys, etc Attached to it are a school of mines and a botanical school. The cathedral, erected in 1814, is richly decorated within. There are 30 churches (inclusive of 9 monasteries and 5 nunneries), 22 of which are in the Calle Real alone. Some are of handsome and all of solid architecture. There are a foundling, a general, and a military hospital; a house of refuge for the relief and education of orphans and the children of the poor; and other benevolent establishments, as also several barracks and an artillery depot, where military equipments are made and repaired. There are a custom house and some good hotels, and two newspapers are published. The inhabitants of Bogota are chiefly Creoles, with half-breed Indians who are exclusively servants; of mulattoes there are few, and negroes are rarely seen. The Bogotefios are intelligent, sprightly, and urbane; the women have a remarkably clear complexion, and are in general handsome and fond of dress.
Near the river Funza, here an inconsiderable stream, and in the immediate vicinity of the city, is the alameda, tastefully disposed with walks,fringed with trees and rose bushes and other fragrant flowers of luxuriant growth. Owing to the great elevation of the table land of Bogota, the temperature is mild and equable; the climate, though humid, is not insalubrious, and epidemics are altogether unknown. The thermometer ranges from 45° to 65° F. There are two wet seasons, March to May and September to November, when rains are at times so violent as to deluge the city with the floods which rush down from the mountains, if suitable ditches were not prepared to receive them. The manufactures of Bogota are limited to cotton and woollen cloths, soap, leather, and precious metal. The fine arts have been cultivated here to an extent altogether uncommon in South America; and in one of the convents are preserved paintings of high merit by Vasquez, a native artist. Communication with the sea is carried on by steamers and barges through the river Magdalena, from the town of Honda (reached in about seven hours) to Cartagena, and to Barranquilla and Sabanilla, situated at the mouth of that river.
The total distance is 600 m., and the journey may be performed in from 10 to 15 days; but the trip up stream sometimes occupies twice and even thrice that space of time. The river Meta, in the valley E. of the mountains behind Bogota, and communicating with the Orinoco, affords easy and commodious communication with the E. provinces of Venezuela and the N. E. shores of the Atlantic. - The plain of Bogota is 60 m. long from N. to S. and 30 m. wide from E. to W.; it is intersected by verdant prairies and dense woods, affording some ornamental and many useful species of timber. The river Funza, formed by numerous mountain streams which take their rise 100 m. N. of the city, traverses the plain in a S. W. direction to Tequendama, where, through a gap not over 36 ft. in width. it leaps over a rocky ledge upward of 600 ft. high, forming one of the most magnificent cataracts on the globe, and thence rushes down to join the Magdalena. There are besides several lakes and morasses on the plateau, a number of thermal springs, and many villages and hamlets still known by their primitive Indian names.
Coal, iron, and copper mines yield in abundance; there are salt mines, which at an earlier period were leased for 280,000 pesos annually, and still supply the surrounding states; and the celebrated emeralds of Muzo have long met the constant demand for that gem in Europe. Large numbers of cattle are raised, and horses and mules are exported to a considerable extent. The vegetation is extremely luxuriant, but the cultivated grounds are mostly in the vicinity of the capital, producing twice yearly the various European cereals, fruits, and vegetables. The potato is said to have been first carried to Europe from the plain of Bogota by Sir John Hawkins. - Bogota, called Santa Fe by the Spaniards, was founded in 1538 by Gonzalo Ximenes de Que-sada, who built 12 houses there in honor of the 12 apostles. In 1548 it became a bishopric. It was the capital of the Spanish province of New Granada till 1811, when the republic was proclaimed by the congress assembled here, in imitation of Venezuela, on Nov. 12. In 1816 the city was taken by the Spaniards under Mo-rillo; but it was relieved by Bolivar in the battle of Boyaca, August, 1819. It then became the capital of Colombia; and since the establishment of Venezuela and Ecuador as separate states, it has been the capital of the republic of New Granada (now United States of Colombia), and an archiepiscopal see.