Medellín, the capital of the department of Antioquia, is located deep in the fertile and mountainous Aburrá valley in the central Andean highlands. It is at an altitude of 1538 MAMSL which gives this city an eternal springtime temperature with an average climate of 20°C.

In 1541 the Spanish named this valley as San Bartolomé. Later, in 1616, under the orders of Francisco Herrera Campuzano, the land where today the barrio of El Poblado is located, was renamed San Lorenzo de Aburrá. This name, Aburrá, stems from a translation from the Aburraes and Yamesíes indigenous tribes which most likely refers to the embroidery in the cotton and textile work that these pre-Hispanic people used to practice prior to the arrival of the colonial invaders. Then, on November 2, 1675, the Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Medellín was founded.

Originally Medellín was a modest, humble town which is evidenced by its colonial buildings that are far from opulent, and whose origins date back to the coffee boom of the 20th Century. Once coffee fever had taken hold of Medellín, the city’s economic development began in earnest and the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) was created on June 27, 1927. From here on, the city was transformed thanks to the resourcefulness and hardworking nature of its citizens, the Paisas, as the people of Medellín are known. While the city initially flourished, things stagnated somewhat in the 1980s at the height of the narco-trafficking period lead by Pablo Escobar. The name Medellín became a by-word for drugs, violence and the narco-mafia. After a disastrous era of severe violence, the city has, for the most part, turned the page on these dark days and the population, showing its strength, has made clear its desire to associate the city international image with its real values: the thriving cultural life in the fields of journalism, literature, urban and fashion design, as well as the artwork and sculptures of the globally renowned artist, Fernando Botero. Furthermore, Medellín has become a bustling city of industry and commerce, especially textile manufacturing and exported cut flowers, which represent the best example of the whole country’s social transformation. 

The city is well worth visiting during the annual Flower Festival, held over two weeks during July and August. The key events and perhaps the most interesting are the exhibitions of orchids, birds and flowers and the most representative parade, that of the Silleteros. During this procession the participants carry floral displays weighing up to 60 kilos each. The name “silletero” comes from the tradition that these farmers used to, and indeed still do practice, of carrying their children on chairs. However, this tradition has become a cultural phenomenon and rather than carrying children, the farmers transport these heavy floral arrangements instead.