Museo El Castillo: Colombia’s Castle

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El Castillo
El Castillo (photo: David Lee)

Hard to miss a castle in your backyard. That’s like walking through Manhattan and missing all the tall buildings. I was living here for 8 months before I found out that a castle sat on one of the city’s hillsides.

This happened just last week. A Dutch traveler I met told me about the Museo El Castillo and asked me if I wanted to go. A castle in Medellín? I had to see it.

I think I missed it because I spend most of my time in Belén and Laureles, because Poblado is the rich section of town where I go very rarely, especially the hillsides dotted with the fancy high rises. Yeah, I know. Poor excuse.

It’s fairly easy to get there, just a quick trip on the Metro to Estación Aguacatala, then a bus ride up the hill to the castle.

Buy your bus ticket at the Metro station and a worker can direct you where to find the bus, and tell the driver where you’re going; he’ll tell you when it’s time to get off the bus.

Access road to the castle
Access road to the castle (photo: David Lee)

As we walked up the short access road, the first things we noticed were the trees and the hanging Spanish moss that look a little like vermicelli noodles and the view in the Valle de Aburrá, the basin that cradles Medellín.

We paid 8,000 pesos ($4.50) at the gate then walked in to confirm that, yes, a castle does exist.  (Entry is 5,000 pesos ($2.80) for children and students.)

The fountains are on!
The fountains are on!

Just outside there is a beautiful garden with a couple of fountains and several benches to sit outside and enjoy Medellín’s perfect weather.

We did some sitting before going in, about 30 to 40 minutes worth. We had to wait until a tour guide was available.

Castle fountain and gardens
Castle fountain and gardens (photo: David Lee)

We finally entered the stoic structure, built in 1930 and modeled after French castles, and opened as a museum in 1971, according to the guide.

[Note: There’s no photography allowed within the castle.]

I really liked the old paintings and the canopy beds that hardly anyone uses today. And the 10-seat dining room table was beautiful, along with the old porcelain cupboards, dishes so pretty I’d feel guilty eating off them.

Apparently only the distinguished folks had the privilege. The guide talked about the wealthy families that once lived there, how they would have dinner guests from Europe, and I tried my best to picture the discussion that took place at that grand table.

I couldn’t think of anything. I’ve never been rich, probably never will be. Being a middle-class kid from the States, all that stuff is foreign to me, literally and figuratively.

Courtyard in the rear of the castle
Courtyard in the rear of the castle (photo: David Lee)

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the tour afterward. It felt shorter than the time I waited to get in the castle.

Maybe if I had planned it around something else. Maybe if I were in Poblado for something else and decided to make it part of my itinerary for the day, it would have been a better experience.

That’s my suggestion, I suppose. Let’s say your down in Poblado, shopping at Centro Comercial Santa Fe, and you want to shift from a scene of contemporary wealth to some “old money” environs.

Walk up the hill to the castle. Or maybe you can do it the other way around, see the castle first then go to Sante Fe, maybe for some shopping, maybe for 2-for-1 Tuesday at Sushi Light.

Or maybe you’ve already been. It’s very possible. Most of you are not as oblivious as me.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! what a beautiful castle. I hope that i can visit this place someday. Thanks for sharing those stunning photos with us.

  2. I never thought that Colombia is such a beautiful place. The place are very refreshing and peaceful especially the Colombia’s Castle. Hope to come and visit that castle. So excited over here.

    • i’ve been to 15 countries and colombia is my favorite. i know that’s a small sample size but i’m not sure there’s a place i would like better. but i’d like to see a lot more to find out if my theory holds up 🙂

  3. For me the gardens were the best part but then I love just sitting in the sun and looking around – the sedate classical music being played was completely appropriate.