Neatly tucked away between the Cordillera de la Costa Mountain Range to the north and separated from the Caribbean Sea coast by the tall Cerro Ávila Mountain Range and flanked by more mountains on the south, lies the beautiful and lively valley of Caracas. The El Ávila National Park lies at the foothills of the Cerro Ávila sharing borders with the Caracas Valley.
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The valley was established above five hundred years ago and was largely populated by indigenous tribes. Around the sixteenth century, the Spaniards tried to start a plantation here, but were fiercely opposed by the local tribes, who drove them away from the valley. Caracas was also constantly raided by pirates, but the people fought back bravely.
However in the 1680’s, the buccaneers entered the valley through a lesser used route and set the city on fire. The city began to develop with the cultivation of cocoa and in 1777 was named the capital of the Captaincy General OF Venezuela. Constant foreign invasions forced the locals to think in terms of a revolution, but this uprising was suppressed.
Finally in 1811, Caracas gained independence only to be sadly devastated in the earthquake that shook Caracas the following year. Venezuela as a whole began to grow as an oil rich country and Caracas took a step forward to modernization in the 1950’s which continued in to the early 1970’s. This was when the birth of the Universidad Central de Venezuela, which is a UNESCO monument, took place.
Caracas has several interesting sights that tourists can visit. One of the city’s main landmarks is the Federal Capitol or the El Capitolio Nacional, which is a government building built in the 1870’s and is renowned for its oval hall with its mural dome and the large number of portraits of famous people of Caracas, lining the walls of the grand hall.
The National Pantheon is a revered monument that is located in the northern end of the old town and is a final resting place of the renowned people of Venezuela. Also one can visit the birthplace of Simón Bolívar, which was reconstructed to its original colonial architecture. The museum houses weapons, uniforms and banners of the period. However, those who wish to look at more personal views of Bolívar’s life can visit the Museo Bolivariano.
The East Park in the heart of the city is also worth a visit while those interested in visiting religious buildings, can visit the numerous cathedrals in the city. The most prominent among them are the Caracas Cathedral and the Iglesia de San Francisco. The capital is also a cultural centre of Venezuela and has a plethora of theatres, shopping centres, restaurants and museums.
Las Mercedes is a great place to visit in the city if you are a food fanatic, as you will find a whole range of restaurants, bars and pubs here. Also you will find a number of art galleries in Las Mercedes. Hikers will enjoy a trip to the El Ávila National Park where one can see some great flora and fauna and a variety of wildlife species. With the Cerro Ávila in the backdrop, this is a fine place to visit.
Being the capital city, Caracas is of course well connected to other parts of Venezuela as well as to various countries in the world with tourists arriving at the Simón Bolívar International Airport.