About a month ago, if you were living or staying in the Laureles/Estadio comuna, you probably heard the noise.
Atlético Nacional, maybe the country’s most popular club fútbol team, returned from Bogotá, Liga Postobón title in hand, ready to celebrate with the hometown fans. The party raged until 5 in the morning.
This is the kind of rumba scene synonymous with Parque Lleras, but lately Laureles/Estadio has been making a case for the best place to live in Medellín.
I ranked it the No. 1 in Medellín in a story earlier this year, and while I love Belén, I’ve come to love Envigado, and I’m starting to love La America, at this point I’ll still leave Laureles/Estadio in the top spot.
The pretty meandering streets have almost anything you could want, from entertainment to food to trendy places to live.
I’ll tell you more about all that here.
History of Laureles / Estadio
If you go to the museum at Pueblito Paisa in Belén, you’ll see some maps and blueprints.
They’re the plans for Laureles.
You can see the area more than 60 years ago, when German urban architect Karl Brunner teamed with famous paisa artist Pedro Nel Gomez to create a unique area of Medellín.
A lot of the city, if you look on a map, is a grid. Calles (streets) go east-west, Carreras (avenues) go north-south.
Laureles is nothing like this. Just look at the area bordered to the west by Carrera 80, to the east by Autopista highway, to the north by the San Juan (Calle 44), and to the south by Calle 33.
There are circulars and tranversals, snaking through the area to form a labyrinth for first-time visitors. I remember getting lost here all the time when I first moved to the area.
Gomez designed the neighborhood this way because he used to study art in Italy and he wanted to replicate the layout of the some of residential areas he saw while he was there.
Get outside the box, where you find the Laureles, Bolivariana, San Joaquin and Conquistadores neighborhoods, and the streets return to more of a normal grid.
Points of Interest
The stadium is 60 years old and its name comes from the man who played an important role in helping liberator Simón Bolívar free Colombia from Spanish rule.
But maybe the best part about the stadium is the area outside it, the recreational quarters open to the public such as basketball courts, swimming pools, a skate park, even rooms for dance and fencing.
They even offer free entrance for certain activities on specific days.
Right next to the stadium is Estación Estadio, one of two stops on the Metro line in the comuna. The other is next to the Suramericana neighborhood.
If you’re looking to relax, a nice place is Primer Parque Laureles, where the giant trees shade you from the tropical rain or vibrant sun.
After Poblado, Laureles probably has your most diverse eating options.
There are also numerous places for comida típica, such as Mondongos, to give you a taste of Colombia.
If you just want a snack, there are several places for that too.
La 70 is already popular among the city’s many nightlife districts.
This section of Carrera 70, between Estación Estadio and Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, is lined with bars and restaurants.
But the best club is probably Son Havana, at Calle 44A and Carrera 73. It’s a salsa place with great energy.
For a more laid-back night, with maybe just a few beers or some live music, head to the north side of Calle 33 where bars such as Underground and Wamba provide these alternatives.
The best and biggest is Unicentro, where you can find almost anything you want, including a movie theater.
Mall Laureles is another option if you’re near Carrera 80, while there’s Centro Comercial Guadalajara at Calle 50 north of the stadium, or the Multicine Carrefour shopping center next to Estación Suramericana.
You should be able to find almost anything you need in one of those places.
Safety in Laureles/Estadio
One of the first things someone told me about Laureles is, “The streets get lonely late at night. Be careful.”
The twists and turns make it easy for crooks to escape, especially on motorcycles.
That said, it’s very safe most of the time. It’s like anywhere else. Use common sense, blah, blah, blah, I’ve said it so many times on this blog I don’t think it bears repeating.
One funny story: I remember when I used to walk through Primer Parque Laureles, and there would be kids smoking weed and looking at me hard like I was trespassing, but even that was more a comedic nuisance than a threat — at least it was for me, because I never planned to report those kids so I always got a laugh out of their stares.
Someone apparently did, though, because police now monitor the park, to make sure no one is intimidated.
One note: If you’re going home from a night out at Son Havana, take a taxi. That area is especially lonely, making for easy crime.
Cost of Living
It’s not cheap here.
If you’re planning to stay long-term, and to furnish your own apartment, you’ll save money. You’ll do the same if you find someone renting out a room.
But for the people staying short term, people who want their own furnished place that includes your utilities and Internet, you’re going to pay for it.
It’s not unusual for a one-bedroom apartment like that to cost 1.4 million pesos ($740) per month.
Before you shout, “Gringo prices!” let’s review something.
You’re living in one of the best parts of the city, where you have every amenity you could want, arguably even more than in Poblado. And the apartment owner, who furnished the place, turned on the electricity, gas and water, and threw in the cable, phone and Internet, didn’t waive a magic wand to make it happen.
All of that cost money and is considered a service provided. In fact, good luck trying to get Claro or Une to hook up your internet if you don’t have a cédula (a Colombian ID card).
So to sum up….
Laureles/Estadio is nice. It’s full of things to do. And it’s quite safe.
No wonder it’s growing in popularity.