With Bo­li­var as Host

WHO­EVER LANDS IN CARA­CAS SHOULDN'T MISS OUT ON A VISIT TO EL LIB­ER­TA­DOR'S BIRTH HOUSE. THOSE WHO DROP BY, AL­WAYS RE­TURN

Excelencias from the Caribbean & the Americas - - Sumario - BY EN­RIQUE MILANÉS LEÓN PHO­TOS EX­CE­LEN­CIAS AR­CHIVE

Just about 600 me­ters from the square and the eques­trian statue that most tourists want to ap­pre­ci­ate in the cen­ter of Cara­cas, lies the house where Simón Bolí­var saw the light of day.

The gate of the prop­erty, lo­cated on the cor­ner of San Jacinto and Tra­posos streets, gives way to the quiet en­vi­ron­ment in which Si­moncito's wealthy fam­ily lived un­til 1792, when his mother, María de la Con­cep­ción, passed away. Juan Vi­cente, the fa­ther, had died six years ear­lier, so at the ten­der age of nine, the boy was com­pletely or­phaned and the Span­ish-style house was ac­quired by Juan de la Madriz, a rel­a­tive who later on sold it no less than Pres­i­dent An­to­nio Guzmán Blanco.

Years passed by, and the house changed hands un­til the prop­erty was do­nated to the state by the Pa­tri­otic So­ci­ety and a restora­tion pro­gram kicked off to even­tu­ally let the pub­lic in for vis­its in 1921.

More than orig­i­nal mu­seum pieces, the main value of the house, built in 1680 and de­clared a Na­tional Mon­u­ment in 2002, is that it shows the roots of a larg­erthan-life man. Apart from be­long­ing to dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies, clas­sic fur­ni­ture makes up the vivid scene in which a child used to play, in the peace of his home.

The History Hall is ac­tu­ally an art gallery de­pict­ing paint­ings by Ar­turo Miche­lena and Martín To­var and To­var, but above all, by Tito Salas, who recre­ated notable pas­sages from El Lib­er­ta­dor (The Lib­er­a­tor) and even in­cluded him­self — who had been born 104 years af­ter his homage as some kind of “time guest” on the can­vas that im­mor­tal­izes Bo­li­var's bap­tism.

The guides of­ten stop by to show the fam­ily chapel, which in­cludes the bank of the Cathe­dral in which the Bo­li­vars lis­tened to Mass, as well as an al­tar­piece of the church of San Fran­cisco, where on Oc­to­ber 14, 1813, the war­rior, in the mid­dle of his lauded sta­tion, re­ceived the ti­tle of Lib­er­a­tor.

Def­i­nitely, who­ever ar­rives in Cara­cas should not miss out on such a visit. In fact, those who drop by once usu­ally re­peat the call. Bo­li­var him­self said good­bye to the place in 1827 dur­ing his last stay in the city, but no one feels his ab­sence.

In­vited to din­ner by the Madriz fam­ily, El Lib­er­ta­dor was alone, dressed as a civil­ian. He was seated near his home bed­room, which ex­cited him greatly. To honor the toast, he made a speech that ended in tears. Qui­etly, he walked around the house, said good­bye po­litely and traipsed fully ex­cited down same cob­ble­stone street we set foot on today. They say he never came back, but since 1921, thou­sands of tourists have re­turned ask­ing about him.

Defini­ti­va­mente, quien llegue a Cara­cas no debe perderse visita se­me­jante. / Def­i­nitely, who­ever ar­rives in Cara­cas should not miss out on such a visit.

La casa de Bolí­var fue declarada Mon­u­mento Na­cional en 2002. Bo­li­var’s birth­place was des­ig­nated Na­tional Mon­u­ment in 2002.

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