Ciudad del Rio – At the Heart of Urban Renewal and Renovation in Medellin

Just north of Poblado, along the busy streets of Avenida Las Vegas, you’ll quickly stumble across Ciudad del Rio (“City of the River”) where modern towers rise up like an island of development among the low lying industrial sprawl.

Ciudad del Rio was once the industrial heart of Medellin (the Industriales metro station sits just to the north) where iron mills spewed out their grey smoke. But increased competition and low-costs from China eventually lead to the shuttering of Medellin’s many mills, leaving a neighborhood in decay.

The underutilized space would serve as the perfect canvas for urban renewal as gleaming towers were constructed beside aging warehouses.

Today in Ciudad del Rio you will find a mix of medical clinics, modern apartments, trendy restaurants and cafes, green parks and much more.

The Museum of Modern Art

Perhaps the most emblematic structure in Ciudad del Rio is the Modern Art Musuem of Medellin (El Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin or just “El MAMM”).

The MAMM moved to Ciudad del Rio in 2009, occupying one of the largest and most important of the mills, Talleres Robledo.

The museum has since undergone a massive extension and resulted in a truly incredible space at the heart of Ciudad del Rio.

While I would say that the Museo de Antioquia is the city’s most important museum, and certainly a must visit attraction, El MAMM is a close runner-up.

The museum houses permanent exhibits on the upper floors, and temporary exhibitions on the lower level within the original warehouse portion.

The entrance fee to the museum is only 10.000 pesos, and there is a discount if you are over 60 years old or a student. There are also free, extended hour nights, once a month.

The museum holds a number of interesting cultural events and activities throughout the year, including regular open-air cinema nights that are projected on the side of the new building.

Even if modern art isn’t your style, I highly recommend a visit to the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin whether you are a tourist or an expat living here.

The Neighborhood

Along the backside of the museum and the towering apartment complexes you’ll also find the lovely Parque Lineal, a long park that stretches the length of three or four city blocks where you’ll find tons of people walking their dogs or just enjoying stepping out among the trees.

Thanks to the mix of tourists who come to the museum, residents living in the upscale apartments, and the thousands of workers in the surrounding businesses, namely the Bancolombia building and medical clinics, there has been a real explosion of dining options within Ciudad del Rio.

Around the corner from the museum you will find the chic and elegant Bonuar restaurant which serves up tasty dishes like jambalaya or lamb burgers, which you don’t commonly find here in Colombia.

You’ll also find popular chain restaurants nearby, like Parmessano, which serves up great, hearty Italian food.

If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or just want to get your caffeine fix, you’ll find the amazing Ganso y Castor cafe located on the grounds of the art museum, or around the corner you’ll find the Carinito Mio Cafe.

Mercado del Rio

Perhaps one of the most exciting new developments in all of Medellin is located here in Ciudad del Rio: the famed Mercado del Rio, a gastronomic dining destination if there ever was one.

Like the museum, the Mercado del Rio is housed in an old warehouse, now renovated to hold more than 50 amazing restaurants. You can think of it like an upscale food court, with so many delicious options that it makes it hard to decide.

The space was modeled on similar projects, like Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, and is arguable even more impressive. I would consider the Mercado del Rio an absolute must-visit in Medellin, be sure to read our full article on the Mercado del Rio.

Surrounding Area

The draw of Ciudad del Rio isn’t limited to within the neighborhood’s borders, but its location just adjacent to Poblado and Parque Lleras and everything it has to offer make it extremely desirable.

Located within a short distance is the Premium Plaza shopping mall, with its many shops, as well as a hip places in Industriales, like the 3 Cordilleras brewery or Cerverceria Libre.

Final Thoughts

The urban renovation and renewal within Ciudad del Rio is ongoing, and the future of this little neighborhood looks extremely vibrant. Whether you are just visiting or considering it as a place to settle down for the long-term, Ciudad del Rio should absolutely be on your radar.

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Ciudad del Rio - At the Heart of Urban Renewal and Renovation in Medellin, Colombia

Ryan S.

Ryan was planning to backpack through all of South America, but he started in Colombia and never made it past Medellin. He has since called Medellin home, as he explores everything this incredible city and country has to offer. Ryan is the author of Big Travel, Small Budget: How to Travel More, Spend Less, and See the World.