Ocean Ports of Call

Caracas - Venezuela Highlights:
Plaza Bolívar, National Pantheon, Monte Avila
Alternative Port:  La Guaira   - click for cruises that visit this port.

Caracas, Venezuela's capital, occupes a high valley in the coastal mountains and is served by the port of La Guaira. Dating from 1567, the sprawling city is a cosmopolitan compound of new and old. Its high-rise skyline is punctuated by neoclassical buildings and interesting museums and landmarks. Don't miss the city view from Monte Avila.

The shady Plaza BolÝvar, one of many squares and public gardens in Caracas, contains a bronze equestrian statue of 'the Liberator' Simˇn BolÝvar, the South American statesman and revolutionary who was born in Caracas. The gilt-domed Capitol Nacional has with some impressive paintings, the Central University of Venezuela (1721), and the National Pantheon, where BolÝvar is buried, are nearby. Churches include the Cathedral (1674) with a beautiful fašade and gilded altar, San Francisco with colonial altars, San Agustin (oldest in Caracas) and Santa Teresa. There are also some excellent museums.

The city was founded in 1567 as Santiago de Leˇn de Caracas and became one of the most prosperous Spanish colonial settlements in South America. It was sacked by the English under Sir Francis Drake in 1595. In 1810 under BolÝvar's leadership it became the centre of the first revolt in the war of independence against Spain (1810-1821) and became the capital of the Venezuelan Republic in 1829. During its history the city has suffered several earthquakes - in 1812 over 12,000 people were killed and most of the city was destroyed, and 277 people were killed and many buildings damaged in 1967.

Outside of Caracas you can visit the Parque Nacional El Avila where you can take the cable car to the top of Monte Avila for the views of Caracas. Also worth visiting is the mountain town of Colonia Tovar, founded in 1843 by German immigrants and now offering delightful landscapes, old architecture and an interesting museum.

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