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Barquisimeto


Barquisimeto is the capital city of the State of Lara located in west central Venezuela, halfway between Caracas and Maracaibo on the Turbio River. Coordinates: .

The city has strong agroindustrial roots, being surrounded by a sugar cane valley and located near two of the largest vegetable-producing regions in Venezuela: the Valle de Quibor (Quibor Valley) and Sanare.

First founded by Don Juan de Villegas in 1552 and named Nueva Segovia de Variquisimeto, the site of the city was later moved to several places until 1563, when the town finally settled in its present location. Today Barquisimeto is a modern city, the fourth most populated in the country, and is situated in the middle of Venezuela's west-central axis of communication, industry and agriculture.

Two well-known landmarks in Barquisimeto are the obelisk, called El Obelisco (which is actually flat on top not making it a true obelisk), raised to commemorate Barquisimeto's 400th anniversary of foundation, and the Cathedral, which looks like an inverted orchid; this style of construction is very rare in Latin America since it consists of a cross-like tinted glass dome, designed in 1959 by Jan Bergkamp and finished in 1969.

Once a year in January, the Divina Pastora (Divine Shepherdess), a mobile statue of the Holy Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus and sheep, is held by 6 to 10 men and carried to the cathedral from the Basilica Minor located in the nearby town of Santa Rosa. More than 2 million people join the procession and walk the entire course every January 14, some even barefoot or holding a wooden cross.

The streets of downtown Barquisimeto are going through some major construction due to the implementation of a trolley-car system that will connect the whole city, making a more efficient public transportation system. This new public transportation is named Transbarca and is expected to be completed by 2010.

General aspects

History

Originally founded by Don Juan de Villegas in 1552 under the name of Nueva Segovia, soon changed in several occasions until its definitive foundation in 1563. Barquisimeto is nowadays a modern city, being the fourth city in number of inhabitants in Venezuela. Its importance, is like center of communications, agriculture and industries, of the center-West of the country. In Barquisimeto, like in most of the cities of Venezuela, besides having an interesting colonial architecture, important works of the modern architecture can be observed. A good example of this, is the Cathedral, which was designed by the architect John Bergcamp. The city has varied museums, of subjects like: History, Archaeology, Paleontology, and one about the city. This last, was inaugurated in 1983, in the old seat of the Hospital La Caridad, has ten rooms, where the works of artists of the region, can be observed, as well as exhibitions of collections and works of other museums. The cultural activity is rooted in its people, the city is known like the musical capital of Venezuela. One of the most representative images of Barquisimeto is the Divina Pastora, patron saint of the city, which is celebrated on January 14.

Geography

Located in a plateau of 556 meters of altitude, with a somewhat hot average temperature of 26C throughout the year, and a population that exceeds the 800,000 inhabitants. Geographically, Barquisimeto has a very central location in the country but due to poor interstate highways and tolls every 70 miles or so, makes the trip from Barquisimeto to Caracas hard to complete in less than four and a half hours, even though it is only about 360 kilometers (224 miles) away.

Law and government

Barquisimeto has one municipality: Iribarren Municipality, Venezuelan law specifies that municipal governments have four main functions: executive, legislative, comptroller, and planning. The executive function is managed by the mayor, who is in charge of representing the municipality's administration. The legislative branch is represented by the Municipal Council, composed of seven councillors, charged with the deliberation of new decrees and local laws. The comptroller tasks are managed by the municipal comptroller's office, which oversees accountancy. Finally, planning is represented by the Local Public Planning Council, which manages development projects for the municipality.

Economy

The economic potential of the city is tied to the small, medium and large industry, that has access to regional and national markets, with a great perspective of internationalization thanks to its convenient access to the sea by rail via Puerto Cabello. The food trade is the city's main commercial activity, thanks to its advantageous geographic location which generates an influence area (hinterland) that covers near 6 million inhabitants. In addition of the food industry, plastics, textiles, paper, dairy, farming and automotive industry, represents the main industries of the city.

Colleges and universities

Barquisimeto hosts a big number of universities and institutes, that has originated a great student population, not just locals but from other regions of Venezuela. Its geographic location, the hospitality of its people and the socioeconomic conditions, have motivated the migration of many young people to the city in search of academic progress, thus making Barquisimeto one of the cities with the highest educational development in Venezuela:

Due to poor educational infrastructure in the poorer small cities and villages around Barquisimeto, academically gifted youth flock to the city and due to lack of opportunities in the outlying regions, rarely return. This phenomenon occurs in other major cities throughout the country.

Lisandro Alvarado Center-West University

(Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado) or UCLA, is a public institution with seat in Barquisimeto, created on September 22, 1962, under the government of Romulo Betancourt, under the name of Experimental Center of Superior Studies, it begins with four schools: medicine, agronomy, veterinary and administration. In 1967, the name is changed to Center-West University, continuing the educational and administrative activities of the Experimental Center of Superior Studies. On April 2, 1979, Venezuelan government rename the organization like Lisandro Alvarado Center-West University.

Antonio Jose de Sucre National Experimental Polytechnic University

(Universidad Nacional Experimental Politecnica Antonio Jose de Sucre) or UNEXPO, is a public institution, with a small campus in Carora. The history of the University begins with the proposal from the UNESCO to the Venezuelan government, to install a Technological Institute in the country, offering technical attendance, and resources. Three cities were interested in the offer, Caracas, Valencia and Barquisimeto, being chosen the last one like principal seat, thanks to the campaign made by the Society of Friends of Barquisimeto, with the support of the Lara state government and the mass media. On September 22, 1962, is founded the Superior Polytechnic Institute, with main seat in Barquisimeto, and on February 20, 1979, the Antonio Jose de Sucre National Experimental Polytechnic University is created, the institutes of Barquisimeto, Caracas and Puerto Ordaz, happened to integrate this university of high hierarchy in the national technology. By a lamentable decision of the national government, through Decree Number 68, on April 19, 1979, it countermanded the creation of the University. Twelve years later, on February 14, 1991, the Venezuelan court, countermanded Decree Number 68, and consequently restituted the University.

Other universities

Universidad Fermin Toro

Universidad Nacional Abierta

Universidad Nacional Experimental Simon Rodriguez

Instituto Pedagogico de Barquisimeto

Universidad Yacambu

Universidad Nacional Experimental Politecnica De la Fuerza Armada

Instituto Universitario Tecnologico Rodolfo Loero Arismendi

Central University of Venezuela

Centro Instituto de Diseno Grafico (CIDIG)

Instituto Universitario Experimental Andres Eloy Blanco

Instituto Universitario de Tecnologia Antonio Jose de Sucre

Colegio Universitario Fermin Toro

Transportation

The system more commonly used, are the rapiditos, old automobiles with capacity for 5 persons, with a route similar to the buses and used mainly to shuttle people between downtown and the suburbs, like the shared cabs in other countries. The Transbarca Trolleybus System, is the new mass transport system of the city, to be inaugurated at the end of 2007, will mobilize an average of 170,000 people by day, with 80 electrical units, will cross 30 km of exclusive route, in the Metropolitan Area of the city, it will be able to have an express route of 22 km and one commercial route of 8 km . With 52 stations, the Trolleybus will count a centralized system of communication and security, and structures for easy access for third age and disability people. Also, it has 18 electrical substations. It has a mechanism of collection of passage and a gratuitous system of communication for the communities. Barquisimeto in 2006 has the most organized bus system of Venezuela, Also it will be complemented with feeding routes, that will cover the the areas of Greater Barquisimeto the trolleybus will not serve; these routes will have stations adjoined or near the ones of the Transbarca system.

Buses are the main means of mass transportation, the system runs a variety of bus types, operated by several companies on normal streets and avenues:

bus; large buses.

buseta; medium size buses.

microbus or colectivo; vans or minivans.

rapiditos; old automobiles with capacity for 5 persons.

Anyone unfamiliar to Barquisimeto and its transportation should know that it can be potentially dangerous due to being targeted by petty, but armed, thieves. Pretty much anyone who uses public transportation in the region has encountered an instance of robbery on a "rapidito" or even bus highjacking. If one complies with the requests of the robbers they usually are nice enough to just take your valuables and drop you off far from any crowded location. Although this is the case, incidents of interstate kidnappings are not uncommon. People with nice cars or a wealthy appearance are usually targeted.

Sports

The city counts, with notably football and baseball teams. Several other sports also have Barquisimeto as their home.

Cardenales de Lara: is a baseball team in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. Founded in 1942 and based in Barquisimeto, the Cardenales have won four domestic titles, the most recent in 2001, have like seat the Don Antonio Herrera Gutierrez stadium, with a capacity of 20,450 spectators.

Guaros de Lara: is a basketball team in the Venezuelan Professional Basketball League. Founded in 1983 under the name of Bravos de Portuguesa, with seat in the cities of Acarigua and Araure, in 1992 the team is transferred to Barquisimeto, like Malteros de Lara, in 1995 adopts the name of Bravos de Lara. Since 2005 the team changes to its present name, Guaros de Lara, it have like seat the Domo Bolivariano, an indoor sporting arena, the capacity of the arena is of 10,000 spectators.

Baseball is like religion in Lara. When the "Cardenales" win the championship its best to stay away from crowded areas and especially steer clear of any major street. A common way to celebrate a win is to drink heavily, put on red clothes, and drive around the streets of Barquisimeto and Cabudare. In the year 2000 more than 70 people died the weekend following the "Cardenales" winning the championship.

Sports teams

Baseball: Cardenales de Lara BBC.

Soccer: Union Lara Futbol Club, Guaros de Lara FC.

Basket: Guaros de Lara.

Sites of interest

Barquisimeto Athenaeum

On October 8, 1986, this Athenaeum was created by a group of cultural promoters, poets, writers, educators and sociocultural workers. This institute was created under the fundamental principle, for the rescue of the traditions and customs of the city, so that can be constituted a legacy for future generations, and thus to reinforce the culture of Barquisimeto.

The obelisk

This is the symbol of Barquisimeto, created to commemorate the 400 years of the city. Constructed in 1952 by the engineer Rafael Jose Raga, is a concrete and steel structure of 75 meters of height, provided with an elevator. The elevator, however, has been out of use for years and the front entrance of the "Obelisk" (which is so in name only since it is flat on top) is used to store materials lying around the grounds surrounding the "Obelisk."

Barquisimeto Museum

This structure dates from 1579, when the San Lazaro Hospital worked. Later in 1877, it was reconstructed to be La Caridad hospital. Finally, in 1939, the Hospital was named Antonio Maria Pineda, and moves to another seat, being this building empty, working years later like the Barquisimeto Museum.

Juarez Theater

This theater is located in the center of the city, was inaugurated in 1905, with the name of Municipal Theater, and was reconstructed almost totally for the four hundred years of Barquisimeto, it has been witness of the growth and history of this population. By its scenes, past a great number of artists, of diverse sorts: dance, song, ballet and theater, among others. It has a special attractive for the tourists, by its structure, and the different cultural manifestations of the city and the country, that are represented there. This theater was the first of the Lara state.

Divina Pastora

The Divina Pastora, is one of the most important religious icons of Venezuela. It is the patron saint of the city. Each January 14, a multitudinal procession is celebrated in which this image is taken from the Santa Rosa town to Barquisimeto, later, it returns to its native town, passing by temples and churches of different parishes. According to the history books, this tradition comes from Seville (Spain). A Capuchino priest Isidoro of Seville, received a revelation in one of his dreams. It was the image of the Divina Pastora. Days later, he gave to the artist Miguel Alonso de Tovar, a detailed description of his vision, so that he could made a paint of it. The image of the virgin with pastoral hat, covered by a blue mantle, maintaining in her left hand a boy, and supporting a lamb on the right one, was called "Divina Pastora de Almas". Years later, the esculptor Francisco Antonio Gijon, made a natural size sculpture of the Divina Pastora, in 1705, the image take its first procession in Spain.

The popular myth of the Divina Pastora in Venezuela, dates from 1736, when the parish priest of the town of Santa Rosa entrusted to an esculptor to made an image of the Immaculate Conception, without knowing, that the figure that arrived at the town was of the Divina Pastora, and although the priest wanted to give it back, he could not do that because was impossible to load the drawer in where the statue came. The whole town deduced that this indicated that the religious image wanted to remain in Santa Rosa. In addition to this peculiar history, in the XIX century, happened another fantastic fact that consolidated this deity like the patron saint of the Lara state. In 1855 there was a rage epidemic that affected Venezuela. A great number of families from Barquisimeto underwent serious consequences by this badly disease, and already desperate they implore to this religious image, that helped them. One tells that the priest Jose Macario Yepez, parish priest of the La Concepcion church of Barquisimeto, offered himself before the Virgin to be the last victim of the disease. Some histories say that six months after the offer, the priest died and the epidemic leaves the city, others indicate, that his implorations stopped the epidemic. In memory of this miracle, all the January 14 a procession in honor to the Divina Pastora is made. It leaves from the population of Santa Rosa and goes to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Barquisimeto. And from January 14, to the Palm Sunday (before Easter), the image of the Divina Pastora, goes to 44 temples of the state. Every year, thousands of people meet to participate together in one of the concurred processions of Venezuela, in which are crossed approximately five kilometers. During the rest of the year, this religious icon is located in the church of Santa Rosa, a town near Barquisimeto. There, all the native ones of this Venezuelan locality venerate the Divina Pastora, with their version devotion, faith and hope.

When one hears of the procession of the Divina Pastora one might expect a somber religious ceremony but in reality the event takes on more of a party atmosphere than anything else. Easy access to beer combined with countless street vendors selling anything from food to liquor and small religious icons, no one misses a chance to make a buck along the route that snakes through the city.

See also

Venezuela

Lara state

List of cities in Venezuela

List of wine-producing regions

External links

Check the weather in Barquisimeto now

Nuevo Sistema Ferroviario de Venezuela

Video Footage of Barquisimeto and some of it's places

Barquisimeto, Bitacora de una Ciudad

Venezuela Tuya, Barquisimeto

Discover Venezuela, Barquisimeto

Museo de Barquisimeto

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Barquisimeto


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