Bogota, the capital of Colombia, is a city full of history and diversity. Among its most emblematic neighborhoods, Chapinero stands out as a place that has evolved over time and has become an icon of the LGBT+ community in the country.
Founded in the 19th century, Chapinero emerged as a small town north of the city of Bogota, surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes and strategically located near the city center. Its name is attributed to Anton Hero Cepeda, a shoemaker who lived in the area. This artisan decided to make special wooden shoes for ladies, perfect for walking on the flooded streets. They were named “chapines,” and from this word derives the current name of the neighborhood.
Over the years, the neighborhood grew and became a residential area for Bogota’s upper class.
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Chapinero experienced a boom in urban development, and stately houses and mansions in the republican style were built. This architectural heritage can still be appreciated in some areas of the neighborhood, where neoclassical facades and gardens preserve the elegance of yesteryear.
In the 1960s, Chapinero began to undergo significant demographic changes. With population growth and the expansion of the city, the neighborhood transformed into a more diverse and eclectic space. Many students, artists, and young professionals found Chapinero an attractive place to live due to its central location and bohemian atmosphere.
LGBT+ Community Center
The rise of gay culture in Chapinero took place in the 1970s and 1980s, when the LGBT+ community found in this neighborhood a refuge and a space of acceptance. With the opening of bars, nightclubs, and meeting places for the community, Chapinero became the epicenter of gay nightlife in Bogota. Establishments like “Theatron,” a complex with multiple rooms and environments, became symbols of activism and the fight for LGBT+ rights in Colombia.
Over time, Chapinero became known as the gay neighborhood of Bogota, appealing to both the LGBT+ community and people from diverse backgrounds. The neighborhood’s diversity is reflected in its streets, where various traditions, cultures, and lifestyles coexist.
However, it is essential to highlight that Chapinero’s history is not limited to its role as a gay icon. The neighborhood also houses important educational institutions, such as Javeriana University and Piloto University of Colombia. It is also known for its diverse gastronomic offerings, with restaurants serving typical Colombian and international dishes.
Regarding its geography, Chapinero stretches from Calle 39 to Calle 100 and is crossed by Avenida Caracas, one of the city’s main thoroughfares. The diversity of its neighborhoods and its connectivity make it a strategic place for urban life.
Today, Chapinero continues to evolve, facing challenges of urbanization and preservation of its cultural heritage. Although the LGBT+ community has gained more visibility and acceptance throughout the country, Chapinero remains a symbol of diversity and inclusion in Colombia.
Chapinero is a neighborhood in constant transformation, whose history reflects the diversity and cultural richness of Bogota. From its foundation to its consolidation as a gay icon in Colombia, this neighborhood has proved to be a space where history, demographics, and geography converge to create a vibrant and welcoming community.