Even if you’ve never heard of Fernando Botero, a stroll through Plaza Botero will almost certainly make you a fan. The park is home to nearly two dozen sculptures by Colombia’s best-loved sculptor, including voluptuous ladies, fat cats, portly Roman soldiers, and chubby men on even chunkier horses.
Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero has an instantly recognizable style that’s popular across the globe. You might have seen his work along Park Avenue in New York, or the Champs-Élysées in Paris, and you’ll most certainly have seen his sculptures if you’ve spent much time in Colombia, especially in his birthplace of Medellín.
His figures are known for their exaggerated volume, their voluptuousness, their big-boned bravado; some might say they’re just plain fat. And no one is immune to Boterismo: men and women, dogs and cats, historical figures, they all get the same treatment, and it’s all good fun, whether the underlying message is political or just done to extract a smile.
If you’re in Medellín and you want to spend some time in the company of a herd of bronze Boteros, you won’t find anywhere better than the 75,347-square-foot Plaza Botero. Twenty-three Botero sculptures live in the park, which the city of Medellín installed between the Palacio de Cultura Uribe Uribe and the Museo de Antioquia in 2002 as part of an urban renewal program. All the pieces were donated by Fernando Botero himself.
It’s hard to pick a highlight among the large and lovably rotund sculptures. Classic Botero nudes display their corpulent beauty among the native ceiba, palm, and yellow lignum vitae trees. Massive cats and dogs sit smiling in the sun; a giant hand reaches up to the sky; a strange and chubby Sphinx-like figure crouches on a plinth. There’s a fat, suited man riding an impossibly paunchy horse, and a Roman soldier whose girth is the stuff of legends.
It’s all signature Botero at its finest. And, beyond that, Plaza Botero is a prime example of one of Medellín’s impressively successful attempts at urban renewal, transforming what was previously a run-down area into a joyful, family-friendly park that celebrates art, learning, and Colombia’s indomitable sense of fun.
Know Before You Go
Plaza Botero is located in the Old Quarter of Medellín, close to the Parque Berrio Metro Station in the center of the city. It's a popular tourist destination, and can get a little crowded, so you might have to be patient if you want to get a clear shot of the sculptures. The tourists have also attracted plenty of local vendors selling souvenirs, soft drinks, and chewing gum. Pickpockets also frequent the plaza, so keep a firm grip on your wallet.