Manrique: Grand Tango Homage, Gradual Progress

Another Gardel portrait out in the Manrique neighborhood.

A Carlos Gardel mural in Manrique

The first mention of Manrique that I ever heard was about how dangerous it is. I suppose it can be.

But there are some interesting things about Comuna 3 as well, things people might want to see such as a tango museum, a big recreational park, and a nightlife area that will allow you to get to know the locals.

History

Other than a smattering of neighborhoods here and there — places like Manrique Central and Campo Valdes — the comuna did not officially begin to form until 1940.

Each decade brought more growth, like other parts of Medellín, and the 1980s and ‘90s brought the sadness and violence that became the reputation of this once-dangerous city.

Manrique’s location in the northeast sector of the city no doubt lent itself to a longer recovery. During the dark days, people were moving south, not north, to flee the fleeting life expectancy around El Centro.

But there is a plan in place to help this sector of the city, like so many others.

A government master plan shows that today Manrique is home to just over 157,000 people, half of which are ages 15 to 44, while another quarter of the population is part of the 45-to-64 age group. In other words, a lot of families live here.

There are 15 barrios, or neighborhoods, almost 60 percent of them falling into the Estrato 2 category on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 the wealthiest. Another 26 percent are in Estrato 1 locales, the rest in Estrato 3.

There are no areas Estrato 4 and up.

You can argue that there is a correlation with the level of education here: 95 percent of the people have not studied past high school, and even then only 9 percent of the residents have even studied at that level.

That could change as the city continues to invest in redevelopment and promotion of higher education, especially with the University of Antioquia, one of the best in the country, in the neighboring Aranjuez district.

I am hopeful it will happen, however slowly it occurs.

Places of Interest

While redevelopment occurs, you can still enjoy a couple of attractions.

The most famous is Museo Casa Gardeliana, named after Carlos Gardel, the famous French-Argentine singer, songwriter, composer and actor. He died in a plane crash in Medellín in 1935.

His spirit lives on in this museum, and even in the streets every now and then, as you can see in the video above, something similar to what I saw in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires a few years back.

Gardel loved Medellín and made frequent trips here. The museum tells his story and the history of tango in the city, something slowly gaining a cult following here for people who want an alternative to salsa and reggaeton music.

You could spend a half day here, and the other half at Unidad Deportiva San Blas.

Here residents can enjoy basketball, softball, taekwondo, tennis and, of course, soccer.

Food

I won’t waste your time here. If you are in the mood for Colombian food, you’re set. If you’re not, tough luck.

Nightlife

Most of noctura is concentrated in two areas, Calle Barranquilla, near the Universidad de Antioquia, and the corner of Carrera 45 and Calle 71.

The people at the bars and clubs here will take great interest in any foreigners they meet because this district is far from the comforts of Poblado or Laureles.

The music typically is salsa or reggaeton. If there is a tango club, I do not know about it.

It’s generally safe now, but just watching your wallet and surroundings like anywhere else outside the primary touristy areas is advised, and take a taxi.

Shopping Malls

Like its neighbor Aranjuez, there are no big malls here. Maybe someday, but probably not anytime soon.

Safety

I was in Carmen del Viboral a couple of years ago, talking with a couple of paisas as we drank a couple of beers.

One of them told me Manrique is really dangerous.

The latest statistics show there were 21 homicides per 100,000 people in Manrique last year, about half the rate of the city average.

I ended up dating a girl from the comuna and found out that it depends what part of the district you’re in. The farther east and up the hill you are, the more dangerous it is.

Cost of Living

You can find a comfortable, unfurnished, two-bedroom place for about 400,000 pesos a month (about $210).

This probably will not change anytime soon. As I told you earlier, redevelopment is occurring, but slowly.

The important thing, though, is the comuna is improving and we will be watching its progress.

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About Ryan

Ryan is the former Managing Editor of Medellín Living.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    Ryan, I lived in the upper part of this Barrio rented an apartment there Estrato 1 , Had no issues but had a number of friends close by , Manrique is a Place you travel to if you know people that live there … not alone because I have lived there I can go there alone today to the area I lived , walk around most arts during the day and certain parts at night…

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