The Parque de las Luces is a public park in what was once a rather dangerous part of Medellín. Today, 300 illuminated pillars stand in the space, providing shade by day and light by night.
The area now occupied by Parque de las Luces, also known as Plaza Cisneros, was once the main marketplace in Medellín. It was here that farmers and traders gathered to sell their wares, and where the train came in from the countryside, laden with goods to unload at the train station just across from the market.
In the 1960s, however, Colombia’s railroad system went bust, and in the 1990s the market was moved to a more efficient location. Plaza Cisneros, as it was then most commonly known, fell into a period of decline, and soon became a seedy spot frequented by thieves, drug addicts, and prostitutes.
Later, as part of a major project to renovate the center of Medellín, a plan was launched to redevelop Plaza Cisneros. The old market square was totally demolished, and in 2005 an altogether different kind of square was inaugurated. It still went by its official name of Plaza Cisneros, but was soon more commonly known as Parque de las Luces, or the Park of Lights.
The name refers to the 300 pillars that rise up from the square, the tallest reaching a height of 78 feet (24 meters). Made of concrete and metal, each column contains an illuminated strip, creating an “artificial forest” that provides shade during the day and light at night. Water fountains, floor lighting, and bamboo complete the picture, creating a modern space surrounded by a handful of important buildings, including the EPM Library, the Carre and Vásquez Buildings, and the renovated Antioquia Railway Station.
The park functions as a meeting point and as a place to relax, while also hosting street performances and events such as the 2018 Medellín Marathon. It’s also a popular spot for photographers, who come to make the most of the strange sci-fi like atmosphere created by the 300 pillars.