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Graffiti Tour in Colombia

Graffiti Tour in Colombia

Walking through the Comuna 13 neighborhood of Medellin, you can’t help but feel confused. How does such a beautiful place have so much dark history? Our Comuna 13 tour in Medellín explains why.

The Comuna 13 graffiti tour in Medellín brings you to a place where every citizen greets a stranger with a smile. Where every child is ready to grab you by the hand and show you their home.

Comuna 13 is one of the 16 communes in Medellin and a place where 18 years ago, a tourist would be crazy to visit. Once home to FARC and paramilitary groups, the commune was one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Colombia.

Today, after a military intervention in 2002, Comuna 13 has changed but the scars remain deep.



Comuna 13 (San Javier) was a neighborhood that began as a shantytown. Home to hundreds of displaced families. These families were victims of FARC and other paramilitary groups and moved here in the 1970s and 1980s to escape the violence.
Much to their dismay, the violence didn’t stop. These same groups that victimized them in small towns, began to also squat in San Javier.
For years the government looked the other way and ignored San Javier. Until Operation Orion.
On October 16th, 2002, Colombia’s then-president, Alvaro Uribe Velez ordered a military operation with the help of the National Police and Colombian Air Force.
This operation saw the fall of paramilitary groups in Comuna 13 and claimed the neighborhood back.
It was the first time in Colombian history that the government used black hawks in the presence of civilians. The questionable decision caused uproar and death. More than 75 civilian casualties and over 100 disappearances.


Once the dust settled and families accepted many loved ones would not return. They coped with their losses but sadly, it wasn’t over.
Small-time gangs started to form and tried to recruit the neighborhood’s youth. The city instantly acted. This time, not through violence but through social projects.
Social projects all across the city aimed to give back to the community by building libraries and parks in the most impoverished areas.
Yet, this wasn’t enough.
The residents of Comuna 13 had been through enough. It was time to help them get back on their feet and improve their daily lives.
In 2011, after years of trial and error and many detractors saying it wasn’t possible, Medellin inaugurated the giant electric escalators in Comuna 13.
That’s right, this neighborhood perched on a hill, home to 12,000 people and with streets too narrow for public transportation, was awarded the gift of time.
For years, its residents had to hike the equal of 28 stories to get to work. Taking them up to 40 minutes. Today, thanks to the 2011 project, the commune boasts a state-of-the-art system that cuts that travel time down to a mere 6-minutes.


San Javier is not only a neighborhood with electric escalators. Comuna 13 is a place of progress. A place of art and a place where youth come together to paint and dance to express their history.
In fact, one of our most popular daytime excursions is a tour of Comuna 13. Learn about its history and why it was an important factor in Medellín’s ‘Most Innovative City’ in 2013 accolade.
See the neighborhood, meet people that lived through it all and decipher what some of these graffitis mean to locals.
The wait was long but the years of violence have come to an end in San Javier and its residents can now say they live in peace.
If you wish to learn more about Comuna 13 or any of our other tourscontact us today.

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