La Alpujarra Administrative Center – Medellín, Colombia - Atlas Obscura

La Alpujarra Administrative Center

In the heart of Medellín, an artsy urban complex sets the stage for demonstrations and protests. 


Built in the 1980s, La Alpujarra Administrative Center is, at first glance, a slightly stark urban complex in the heart of Medellín. Between the important and imposing government buildings, you’ll find notable sculptures and, on occasion, a demonstration or two.

La Alpujarra Administrative Center is, first and foremost, the location of some of Medellín’s most important administrative buildings, including the town hall, the main government offices, the national tax administration, the city courthouse, and various other buildings you probably never want to have to visit, at least not on official business.

To be fair, some of these concrete structures are quite impressive in their own right: blocky, clean-cut towers back-dropped by the blue skies of Medellín. But what makes La Alpujarra more interesting for the casual visitor are the sculptures dotted around the square and adjoining areas.

The most notable and important work is Monumento a la Raza (Monument to Race) by acclaimed Colombian sculptor Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt, whose sculptures are found in most of Colombia’s principal cities. The 125-feet-tall (38 m) sculpture recounts the history of the region’s conquered indigenous people and the heroic deeds of the Antioquia department, with figures formed in dramatically twisting concrete and metal.

Another monument is the Homenaje a los Doctores Guillermo Gaviria y Gilberto Echeverri by Salvador Arango. This sculpture pays tribute to former Antioquia Governor Guillermo Gaviria and peace commissioner Gilberto Echeverry, both of whom were kidnapped and killed during the reign of Pablo Escobar.

Other sculpted figures in the square pay tribute to the unnamed and often overlooked people of the city. These include a bronze statue of a shoe-shine man, a wandering street vendor, and a lottery ticket salesman, all sculpted by Olga Inés Arango.

Know Before You Go

La Alpujarra Administrative Center is located in downtown Medellín. Most buses in the city center pass by this area, or you can take the metro to Alpujarra Station and then walk the short distance to the main square. Be aware that this area is a popular spot for protests and demonstrations. In 2008, more than 200,000 people gathered to protest the guerrilla military organization FARC. Student demonstrations are also common, and political rallies near election times.

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