The capital of Venezuela is a huge, vibrant and energetic city built on tremendous wealth and desperate poverty. Gravity is equally defied by the city's thrusting towers of steel and glass and the teetering shantytowns that cover the city's surrounding hills.
As cosmopolitan and captivating as it can be depressing, Caracas has all the assets of a big city - great restaurants, plush hotels, theatre, museums, nightlife, shopping - and many of the problems - petty crime, grinding poverty, pollution and the loss of heritage.
Caracas travel, Venezuela Tourist Attractions
It's an oil-money place of traffic jams and progressive culture, the unquestioned centre of the country's political, scientific, cultural, intellectual and educational life. It's a showcase of modern architecture, flaunting public sculptures, mosaics and murals at every turn. It enjoys a perfect position on the Caribbean coast, and is the gateway to the Andes and the Amazon.
Any time is a fine time to visit Caracas. The Caracas tourism city enjoys a dry climate and temperatures are mild and steady. Venezuelans go on a whirlwind visitation of friends and family at Christmas, Carnaval and Easter, so avoiding the resulting transport and accommodation mayhem could be a factor in deciding when to visit.
The city of Caracas dates back to 1560, when intrepid Francisco Fajardo headed south from the Spanish colony on Isla de Margarita, 40km (25mi) offshore, and discovered the verdant valley that is today entirely taken up by the massive metropolis. Fajardo founded a settlement called San Francisco, but the Toromaima Indians who lived in the valley objected to the Spaniards' incursions. For six years the Indians launched a series of attacks against the settlement, and the governor of the province responded by ordering the complete conquest of the valley. On July 25, 1567, the governor's expeditionary troop decisively overcame Indian resistance and reestablished the settlement, naming it Santiago de León de Caracas: 'Santiago' after the patron saint of Spain, 'León' after the provincial governor, and 'Caracas' after the coastal region's least troublesome Indian group.Disneyland
Caracas was elected as the administrative seat of the colony in 1577, becoming the third and final capital of Venezuela. Twenty years after its establishment, Caracas consisted of 60 families and ranged for 25 blocks surrounding the Plaza Mayor. Development was hindered by constant setbacks: pirate attacks left the Caracas attractions city sacked and razed, and subsequent reconstruction was destroyed by earthquake.
Caracas consolidated its position over the next two centuries, and the city gave birth to two of Venezuela's most famous sons: Francisco Miranda, who paved the way for independence, was born in 1750; and Simón 'El Libertador' Bolívar, who realized Miranda's dream, was born in 1783. Miranda was involved in the 1810 denouncing of the Spanish governor, and the formation of a replacement Supreme Junta. Following a year-long political struggle, Venezuela's independence was declared on July 5, 1811, but Spain didn't recognize Venezuela's sovereignty until 1845.
Since the 1950s, Caracas' population has soared from around 400,000 to almost five million. The Caracas travel city suffered a severe economic decline in the 1980s and 90s, and the thousands of rural dwellers who rushed to find wealth in the big metropolis now lead a precarious hand-to-mouth existence in the ramshackle huts that cover the steep hills surrounding the city center. Theft and armed robbery are increasingly a fact of life. Worse was to come on December 15, 1999, when disastrous mudslides devastated a 100km (62mi) swathe of the Litoral Central, the coastal area just north of Caracas. The exceptionally high rainfall that caused the disaster is estimated to occur only once in a thousand years in this region. Believed to be South America's worst natural disaster in Venezuela Tourist Attractions recent memory, the mudslides killed between 30 and 50 thousand people, and made 150,000 homeless. Entire beaches and shantytowns vanished, the colonial town of La Guaira - once the region's major cultural sight - was destroyed, and the resorts are now ruined ghost towns.