As Seen Off Screen: The ‘Real’ Medellin

Medellin – a city that until a few years ago you might JUST be forgiven for not knowing but which Netflix series ‘Narcos‘ has now established as a household name.

For the few who’ve somehow managed to miss it entirely (impressive), the hit series documents the presence of Pablo Escobar and his cartel in Colombia’s second city – a time when crime and corruption were rife. Although we’re avid fans, we hate to see the city of Medellin (one of our favourites) lumped with such an outdated reputation, when in fact those on the ground, such as bespoke operator, Amakuna, will tell you that these days the words ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’ oust ‘Escobar’ and ‘cartel’ any day of the week. Don’t believe us? How about the Wall Street Journal, who together with Citi and the Urban Land Institute crowned it ‘Innovation City of the Year‘ in 2012…

Just in time for Narcos season 3, Amakuna last week launched its ‘Real Medellin’ tour taking film fanatics on a journey through its dark past and on to a brighter future. Step into drug kingpin Escobar’s shoes accompanied by a local cartel expert as you visit his self-commissioned prison, his last Medellin residence and his grave. Head on to meet some of the cartel’s former employees and victims for a rare insight into how the effects live on today.

Next up is a trip to Comuna 13, once the poorest and most dangerous part of the city and a rat run for Escobar’s cronies on their way to Panama. Now it’s the city’s beating heart and a hub for innovation, thanks to a couple of nifty transport systems (think giant escalator and a cable car) connecting it to the city centre. Here, you’ll see its miraculous transformation documented on every available surface in the form of exquisite graffiti murals. Join a few of its leading artists to understand its deep-rooted historical, political and cultural context.

Credit: Bajo El Mismo Sol

A thriving art scene is followed closely by fashion and food, which are drawing aficionados both nationally and from abroad. Once a textile and fabric hub, Medellin is undoubtedly Colombia’s fashion capital and hot on the heels of Sao Paulo for the title of South America too, whilst on the food front, some of the country’s hottest eateries and leading chefs are now based in the city (rejoice!). A few of our favourites include Carmen Medellin, Oci.Mde and OSEA and Amakuna’s guests can join their respective chefs, Carmen Angel, Laura Londono and Salomon Borenstein, on an escorted tour of Medellin’s markets before heading back to the restaurant to whip up some of their most iconic creations under their watchful eye.

Credit: 100 Resilient Cities