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Caracas Attractions and Things to See

Officially known as Santiago de Leon de Caracas, Caracas is the biggest city and capital of Venezuela, located in the northern region of the country running along the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley that sits by the Venezuelan coastal mountain range called the Cordillera de la Costa, close by the Caribbean Sea, but separated by a high mountain range called Cerro Avila that rises up 7400 feet above the sea. Since it was founded over four centuries ago, there were indigenous peoples located there when Francisco Fajardo, the son of a Spanish captain and Guaiqueri cacica, would try to start a plantation in 1562, after having founded numerous coastal villages.

The settlement would not last long, because it would be destroyed by natives in the area that were led by Terepaima and Guaicaipuro, but it would become the final rebellion with the natives. In 1567, Captain Diego de Losada would lay the first foundations of the city of Caracas, although the coastline would be raided by pirates on a regular basis. Because Caracas sat behind the mountains, it would be fairly immune to these attacks, which would help it become one of the main cities of the area; until 1680, when the pirates would cross the mountains through a little known pass as the town's defenders paid more attention to the more often used one, that allowed the buccaneers to encounter small resistance and sack the town, setting it ablaze. Eventually, the cultivation of cocoa would stimulate the region's development, and by 1777 it had become the capital city of the Captaincy General of Venezuela.

Some of the more famous and well known landmarks include the Federal Capitol that is situated at the southwest corner of Plaza Bolivar and had been the Conceptions Nuns monastery from 1637 to 1874, and from 1810, it would be the seat of the congress. The city has many excellent parks like the Caracas East Park that was designed by Brazilian architect, Roberto Burle Marx, that is a marvelous green space in the heart of the city, with a small zoo attached, and a copy of the ship captained by Francisco de Miranda, the Leander is being constructed on the southern end of the park. A replica of the Santa Maria had been located there before, that was used by Columbus in his voyages to the Americas. The Teresa Carreno Theater has become one of the more significant theaters in the city and nation, that hosts concerts and symphonic concerts, as well as ballet and operas.

In the Simon Bolivar birthplace, where he was born in 1783, there is a marvelous museum with uniforms, banners and weapons from that era that is sure to interest visitors wanting to know more or learn about the history of this great country and city. Quite a bit of the interior has been covered by monumental paintings and murals of famous battle scenes, and more personal artifacts can be viewed in the Bolivarian museum nearby. In the National Pantheon, his coffin rests, when his remains would be brought here from Colombia. This is one of the nation's most venerated structures that sits five blocks north of the Plaza Bolivar, that is located on the northern edge of the old city, housed in a former church.

Just east of the plaza is Parque Central with high rise residential buildings that are reminiscent of apocalyptic looking architecture that is crowned by two 56 storey octagonal towers that house the city art and culture centers, with outstanding museums and cinemas.  The city is filled with many religious structures that include the Caracas Cathedral that was founded in 1594, where the parents of Simon Bolivar are interred, and contains a magnificent hand carved altar, as well as fabulous paintings like the Resurrection by Rubens, the Last Supper, an unfinished work by Venezuelan painter, Arturo Michelena and the Presentation of the Virgin by Murrillo. The mosque of Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ibrahaim is the second biggest mosque in Latin America, and for quite a few years, it was the biggest. Caracas has numerous sports teams that play baseball, association football/soccer and others.

It is the nation's cultural capital with outstanding museums, shopping centers, theaters and restaurants, that serve a diverse menu because the country has welcomed many immigrants from Spain, China, Portugal, China, Italy, the Middle East, Germany and other Latin American countries. Other museums include the contemporary art museum, the Children's museum, the Natural Science museum, Jacobo Borges museum, the Raul Santana Creole museum, the Coin Museum, the Carlos Cruz-Diez museum, Sacred museum, Transport museum and the Alejandro Otero museum.