History of Medellín
The Pre-Columbian era
The history of Medellin is a fascinating journey that starts way back in time. Medellin is located in the Aburra Valley. A 60 kilometer long and between 3 to 10 kilometer wide valley in the heart of the Colombian Andean region.
The valley is known for its mesmerizing beauty and stunning views. Even before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the land where Medellin now stands was home to indigenous peoples.
The earliest archeological evidence indicates human presence in this area over 10.000 years ago. They roamed the valleys and mountains, farming and crafting pottery. By around 3,000 BC, some settled down and started farming more seriously.
Fast forward a bit to about 800 AD, and you’ll find three different cultures living in the area around Medellin. We know this from the things they left behind, like artifacts. But piecing together their history is a puzzle because we don’t have many clues about when they lived exactly and a lot got destroyed following the Spanish conquest.
The Arrival of Europeans
The story takes a leap to 1541 when the Conquistadors arrived. A Spaniard named Juan Bautista wrote about the first meeting between the locals and the newcomers. The locals didn’t take too kindly to these visitors and even put up a fight with a bunch of archers and club-wielding warriors. But the Spanish, having guns, attack-dogs and other modern weaponry managed to hold their ground.
These Spanish folks sent word to their leader, Jorge Robledo, who came with a translator to talk things out. They found out that the locals were into farming and trading. The Spanish stayed for a short while and then left, not to return for another 75 years.
Around 1615, the second recorded encounter happened between the native population and a Spanish explorer named Francisco Campuzano. He set up a place called “San Lorenzo.” This was a hub where people lived and traded.
Time flew by, and in 1649, people started building homes around an area now known as “Parque Berrio.” This place would later become the official city of Medellin in 1675. Back then, the governor decided that only white people could live inside the city limits, while survivors of the indigenous people and mixed-race individuals had to live on the outskirts. Below we see the first map drawn of Medellin in 1791. By the amount of houses we can draw the conclusion that it was not a big city back then.