Medellin Neighborhood Guides: San Javier

Medellin Neighborhood Guides: San Javier

TLDR? San Javier or Comuna 13 the most touristed place in Medellin, full of urban art, a graffiti tour, and a lot of social reconstruction. 

San Javier is undoubtedly one of Medellín’s most touristed areas. Visitors flock to see the famous graffiti tour, outdoor escalators, artistic shows, and immersive tours through the neighborhoods of the zone. 

But what else should you know about the internationally recognized Comuna 13? 

Read ahead to find out everything you need to know about San Javier or Comuna 13 beyond the regular tourist attractions! 

Some Facts About the Neighborhood

Some Facts About the Neighborhood

San Javier, or Comuna 13, is located in the centeral-western part of Medellín, bordering the neighborhoods Robledo, La America, and Laureles as well as the Corregimientos, or hamlets, of San Cristobal and Altavista. 

This Comuna is one of the few without access to the Medellín river. On the contrary, it’s located in one of the city’s mountainous areas, putting it at risk of natural disasters. 

Several streams run through San Javier, and among them are: 

  • Ana Diaz
  • La Iguaná
  • La Hueso
  • La Picacha

The homes in this sector of the city have socioeconomic statuses of 1, 2, and 3, revealing some of the greatest deficiencies of the people of Medellín. The 19 neighborhoods making up Comuna 13 are: 

  • El Pesebre
  • Blanquizal
  • Santa Rosa de Lima
  • Los Alcázares
  • Metropolitano
  • La Pradera
  • Juan XXIII
  • La Quiebra
  • Antonio Nariño
  • San Javier n.º 1
  • San Javier n.º 2
  • Veinte de Julio
  • El Salado
  • Nuevos Conquistadores
  • Las Independencias
  • El Corazón
  • Belencito
  • Betania
  • La Divisa
  • Eduardo Santos
  • El Socorro

Mobility in San Javier 

Mobility in San Javier

Although located in one of the highest parts of Medellín with many hills and steep streets, this comuna still has access to many modes of public transportation, as many important streets such as San Juan and Carreras 90 and 92 run through the sector. 

The metro system provides mobility to inhabitants, with Line J of the Metro Cable running to “La Aurora” in San Cristobal and the main station running to the central part of San Javier right where Line B ends. The area also has many integrated bus routes reaching all corners of the sector. 

A Reborn San Javier 

A Reborn San Javier

San Javier was one of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the 2000 Medellín civil war. 

For many years armed individuals involved in the drug trade and operating outside the law had control over the Comuna. In 2002, with the help of Operation Orion and political, social, and pacifiest protests, Comuna 13 managed to resurface with resilience. 

Although these events marked a before and after in San Javier, different organizations have since emerged, managing to give the neighborhood a completely different face through art and culture.

Graffiti Tour and Outdoor Escalators 

Graffiti Tour and Outdoor Escalators

A quick Google search of what to do in Medellín will no doubt suggest seeing the famous graffiti tour in the Las Independencias neighborhood of the comuna. This is something you won’t want to miss. 

The tour consists of a walk through the neighborhood’s streets, where you’ll see murals and paintings made by local artists worth photographing and posting everywhere! 

During the tour, you’ll take a ride on the escalators of Comuna 13, installed with the purpose of improving the lives of the area’s inhabitants, who had to climb hundreds of stairs to reach their homes located on the steep mountain slopes. 

En route, you’ll see souvenir places and restaurants serving typical paisa food, as well as a variety of musicians, dancers, and artists from the neighborhood promoting art instead of war. 

Other Cultural Sites in the Area

Other Cultural Sites in the Area

After the neighborhood’s rebirth twenty years ago, art and culture took over, giving strength the cultural institutes of the neighborhood.

Let’s take a closer look at a couple of them.

UVA San Javier “Huellas de Vida”

The UVA, or “Articulated Life Unit,” is located in the Veinte de Julio neighborhood. It’s a three-story structure where recreation workshops, cultural exhibitions, and sporting events are held. In this space, there are offices, a museum, a photography room, a toy library, and green areas to sit for a moment and rest. 

San Javier Library

Bordering Comuna 12, the San Javier Library is a large architectural structure located on a small mountain, surrounded by green areas to rest or walk around in. The library is an education and academic space boasting a wide range of books for the enrichment of locals and tourists alike.

Casa Kolacho

This cultural center in San Javier is responsible for creating the Graffiti Tour! It’s also an artistic training school operating and training artists through Hip Hop for almost 20 years.

Ciudadela Universitaria de Occidente

Once the location of the El Buen Pastor prison for women, this project for educational purposes seeks to project Medellín as an epicenter for industry 4.0 and other creative industries. A modern space, the Ciudadela works to improve the quality of life of the populations of Comunas 12 and 13. 

San Javier, a Zone Full of Culture in Medellin

Although San Javier was marked by violence many years ago, the neighborhood has worked to move away from its past and towards art, culture, and tourism. 

If you are in Medellin, Comuna 13 is a place you absolutely can’t miss! 

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