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Santiago de León de Caracas
Official flag of Caracas Official seal of Caracas
City flag City seal
City motto: Ave María Santísima, sin pecado concebida, en el primer instante de su ser natural.
(English: God Bless You Holiest Mary, conceived without guilt, in the first instant of Her Natural Being)
City nickname: La Sucursal del Cielo
(Spanish: Branch of Heaven)
Location of Caracas
Location of Caracas
Municipalities Libertador
El Hatillo
Mayor Juan Barreto (20042008)
2,050 km²
N/A km²
N/A km²
  –Total (2005)
Metropolitan area
Time zone UTC –4
10º 30’ N
66º 55’ 70’’ W
Official website: Alcaldía Mayor
Cerro Ávila, Caracas.
Cerro Ávila, Caracas.

Caracas is the capital of Venezuela. It is located in the north of the country, following the contours of a narrow mountain valley. The valley's temperatures are springlike, and the urbanizable terrain of the Caracas Valley lies between 2,500 and 3,000 ft (760 and 910 m) above sea level. The Valley is close to the Caribbean Sea , separated from the coast by a steep mountain range (Cerro Ávila) that rises above 8,000 ft (2600 m). The historic center of Caracas, known as the Libertador Department, had a population of 1.9 million in 2004. In that same year, the metropolitan area boasted a population of 5.1 million. Distrito Federal is the name of Caracas' primary seat. The metropolitan area also covers part of Miranda State.



The city was founded in 1567 as Santiago de León de Caracas by Spanish explorer Diego de Losada.

The city of Caracas was the birthplace of two of Latin America's most important figures: Francisco de Miranda and "El Libertador" Simón Bolívar.

An earthquake destroyed Caracas on March 26, 1812 and was portrayed by authorities as a divine punishment to people rebelling against the Spanish Crown.

As the economy of oil-rich Venezuela grew steadily during the first part of the 20th century, Caracas became one of Latin America's economic centers, and was also known as the preferred hub between Europe and South America. On October 17, 2004, one of the Parque Central Torre towers caught fire.


The flag of Caracas consists of a burgundy red field with the version of the Coat of Arms of the City effective since the decade of 1980. The red field, remembrance of the predominant color in the royal pennants of Colonial Caracas, symbolizes the blood spilled by Caraquenian people in favor to the Independence and the highest Ideals of the Venezuelan Nation. The original design of the Caracas Flag appeared in the decade of 1980 and consisted of a burgundy red cloth with the version of the then adopted and still effective Coat of Arms located to the canton. Later 1994, approximately and presumably as a result of the change of municipal authorities, it was decided to place the Caracas CoA slightly increased of size on the center of the field, configuration that maintains at the present time.

Coat of Arms

The coat of arms of the City of Caracas was adopted by the Libertador Municipality to identify itself and later the Metropolitan Mayor Office assumed the lion, the scallop and the St. James Cross for the same aim. Symbollogically speaking, this raised a conflict then that Caracas identifies the Coat of Arms of the Capital of the Republic.

Places of interest

Capitolio Nacional

The National Capitol occupies an entire city block, and, with its golden domes and neoclassical pediments, can seem even bigger. The building was commissioned by Guzmán Blanco in the 1870s, and is most famous for its Salón Elíptico, an oval hall with a mural-covered dome and walls lined with portraits of the country's great and good.

Visit on Independence Day and you'll catch a glimpse of the original Act of Independence of 1811, installed inside a pedestal topped by a bust of Bolívar and displayed only on this most auspicious of public days. The halls surrounding the salon are daubed with battle scenes commemorating Venezuela's fight for independence.

Casa Natal de Bolívar

Skyscrapers may loom overhead, but there's more than a hint of original colonial flavour in this neatly proportioned reconstruction of the house where Simón Bolívar was born on July 24, 1783. The museum's exhibits include period weapons, banners and uniforms.

Much of the original colonial interior has been replaced by monumental paintings of battle scenes, but more personal relics can be seen in the nearby Museo Bolivariano. Pride of place goes to the coffin in which Bolívar's remains were brought from Colombia; his ashes now rest in the National Pantheon.

Bolívar's funeral was held 12 years after his death at the Iglesia de San Francisco, just a few blocks west, and it was also here that he was proclaimed 'El Libertador' in 1813. The church dazzles the eye with its richly gilded baroque altarpieces, and still retains much of its original colonial interior, despite being given a modernising once-over by Guzmán Blanco.

Front view of the Quinta Anauco.
Front view of the Quinta Anauco.

Museo de Arte Colonial

The gardens that surround this museum are almost as enticing as its interior. The museum is housed in a gorgeous colonial country mansion known as Quinta Anauco, which is surrounded by beautiful greenery. Inside the house you'll find meticulously restored rooms, filled with carefully selected works of art, furniture and period household odds and ends.

The quinta was well outside the historic town when it was built back in 1797, but today it's an oasis in the inner suburb of San Bernardino. Head there late on a Sunday morning and you might catch a chamber music concert in rooms which were once the house stables.

The National Pantheon (Panteón Nacional).
The National Pantheon (Panteón Nacional).

Panteón Nacional

Venezuela's most venerated building is five blocks north of Plaza Bolívar, on the northern edge of the old town. Formerly a church, the building was given its new purpose as the final resting place for eminent Venezuelans by Guzmán Blanco in 1874. The entire central nave is dedicated to Bolívar, with the altar's place taken by the hero's bronze sarcophagus, while lesser luminaries are relegated to the aisles. The national pantheon's vault is covered with 1930s paintings depicting scenes from Bolívar's life, and the huge crystal chandelier glittering overhead was installed in 1883 on the centennial of his birth. It's worth hanging around to catch the ceremonial changing of the guard, held several times a day.

The western tower of the Parque Central Complex.
The western tower of the Parque Central Complex.

Parque Central

An short saunter east of Plaza Bolívar takes you from historic to futuristic Caracas. Rather than a welcome expanse of inner-city greenery, this park is a concrete complex of five high-rise residential slabs of somewhat apocalyptic-appearing architecture, crowned by two 53-storey octagonal towers while one of them is currently going under major repairs due to the fire which burned the building on October 17, 2004.

Parque Central is Caracas' art and culture hub, loaded with museums, cinemas, the Complejo Cultural performing-arts center and the Caracas Athenaeum, home to the esteemed Rajatabla theatre company. The Mirador de la Torre Oeste, on the 52nd floor, gives a 360° bird's-eye view of the city.

Plaza Bolívar

Leafy Plaza Bolívar is the focus of the old town with the inevitable monument to El Libertador, Simon Bolívar, at its heart. Modern high-rise buildings have overpowered much of the colonial flavour of Caracas' founding neighborhood. But the lively area still boasts some important sites.

The Museo Caracas on the ground floor highlights local history, and has some great models of the city as it appeared in the early 19th century and 1930s. To grasp just how much this city of almost five million has grown, take a look at the map dating from 1578 in the building's central courtyard.

A common street in El Hatillo
A common street in El Hatillo

El Hatillo

El Hatillo is a colonial town located at the south-east suburbs of Caracas. It is one of Caracas' five counties. This small town, which is one of Venezuela's few preserved typical colonial areas, gives citizens a small window to what colonial Caracas was. Just like every town in Venezuela, El Hatillo has its own Plaza Bolívar with El Libertador statue in the middle . It also has a well preserved Catholic Church, and many colonial houses. Even the municipal government, banks, and bookshops in this neighborhood keep the colonial look, which have tall windows, floor-to-top wood doors, and red tile roofs.

The actual colonial section of this county just represents a small part of the total county land size. Other areas in El Hatillo county are regular residential and commercial zones. La Boyera, Oripoto, and La Lagunita are just some of this county's neighborhoods.


The city has two main football stadiums: The Olympic Stadium (35,000) and the Brigido Iriarte Stadium with a capacity of 25,000 seats (home of the Caracas Futbol Club and Italchacao Club). Baseball teams Tiburones de la Guaira and Leones del Caracas also play on their shared stadium Estadio Universitario (33,000 seats).

Skyline of Caracas at evening.
Skyline of Caracas at evening.


The Caracas metro has been in operation since 1983 and is the safest and quickest way to travel in the city.

Nearby Maiquetia has Maiquetia International Airport.

External link

Subdivision of Venezuela Political Divisions of Venezuela Flag of Venezuela
Amazonas | Anzoátegui | Apure | Aragua | Barinas | Bolívar | Carabobo | Cojedes | Delta Amacuro | Falcón | Guárico | Lara | Mérida | Miranda | Monagas | Nueva Esparta | Portuguesa | Sucre | Táchira | Trujillo | Vargas | Yaracuy | Zulia
Capital District: Caracas
Federal Dependencies
Los Monjes Archipelago | Las Aves Archipelago | Isla Aves | Los Hermanos Island | Los Frailes Island | Los Roques Archipelago | La Sola Island | La Tortuga Island | La Orchila Island | La Blanquilla Island | Los Testigos Island | Isla de Patos
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