To its credit, Colombia features artists, politicians, a martyr and a scientist on its bills, but only one warrior. Will Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a communist, one day grace Colombian money? How about Shakira, with her hips?
Watch out for counterfeits. They say to check for the hologram, the embedded strip with the currency’s value written on it and to rub the bill against a piece of white paper. If some color rubs off, then it’s probably genuine.
Today, the smallest coin in circulation is the 50 peso coin, which won’t by anything. A thousand peso bill is worth about 50 U.S. cents. Colombian officials have discussed the possibility of chopping three zeroes off of the currency, but that would mean high costs for banks and the mint.
The 1,000 peso bill
The one thousand peso bill
On the one-thousand peso bill is Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, a charismatic leftist politician whose 1948 assassination in downtown Bogota triggered the bogotazo riots, in which thousands of people were killed, many buildings burned and the streetcars pushed over and set on fire. Gaitan has become an icon for Colombia’s left. Visit the Gaitan Museum, in what was once his home, in the Teusaquillo neighborhood.
The 2,000 peso bill
2000 peso bill
The 2,000 peso bill carries the image of Francisco de Paula Santander (1792-1840), one of the leaders of the revolution against Spain and later a president of Colombia. Santander eventually clashed with Simon Bolivar when Bolivar tried to make himself dictator for life. Santander supported rule of law. You can read his famous saying about the law on the southern wall of the Justice Palace on Plaza Bolivar and visit his tomb in the Central Cemetery. However, Santander’s remains have been returned to the city of Cucuta, his birthplace.
The 5,000 peso bill
5,000 peso bill
Jose Asunción Silva (1865-96), on the 5,000 peso bill, is Colombia’s most famous poet, considered a precursor of modernist style. Silva left only about 150 poems, in part because he committed suicide at age 31 and because a ship
Tomb of Jose Silva and his sister Elvira in Bogotá's Central Cemetery
he was traveling on sank, destroying much of his work. Silva endured many troubles: the deaths of his sister and several brothers and failures at business and as a diplomat.
The 10,000 peso bill features revolutionary heroine Policarpa Salavarrrieta (1791-1817), a seamstress who spied on the Spanish, was captured in La Candelaria in a house on the corner of Carrera 2 and Calle 10 and executed in the Plaza de los Martires, a few blocks west of La Candelaria. You can see her statue with famous
Policarpa's statue by the entrance to the University of the Andes
Her reported last words, shaming Colombians into fighting for their independence, have become famous. Her nickname is ‘La Pola.’ There once was a La Pola beer, and the term continues to be slang for a beer.
Visit his tomb in the Central Cemetery, where Garavito has become a popular saint. Believers rub the 20,000 peso bill against Garavito’s tomb for good luck.
The 50,000 peso bill
Colombia’s 50,000 peso note features Jorge Isaacs (1837-95), a romantic writer best-known for Maria, his only novel. In a varied and eventful life, Isaacs was also an explorer, soldier, would-be leader of Antioquia Department, journalist and failed businessman.
We’re located in the center of Bogota’s historic La Candelaria neighborhood -- close to many hotels, hostels and city landmarks.
Visit us at Carrera 3 #12-72. That’s on Carrera 3 between Calles 12 and 13, downhill from La Plaza del Chorro.