The word graffiti (or street art) has a negative connotation and is often associated with vandalism. As a result, in some countries, it’s become socially undesired and criminal. However, in South America, the perception of street art has changed. Here it’s embraced, respected, and, even, encouraged.
For a part of the world that seen so much turmoil, street art has become a form of socio-political expression. And it’s created a restored sense of culture and unity.
Street art can be found on almost every corner of South America, which makes it difficult to know where to start. So, here are the best destinations for street art in South America.
There’s a saying in Quito – No Wall is White. And it’s the first thing you notice in Ecuador’s capital. Just a quick glance down any street and you will uncover interesting pieces of artwork. Here street art represents the voice of the people, often addressing socio-political inequalities.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to some of the largest murals. In fact, a 2 km wall was recently offered to street artists. It’s something not to be missed.
The piece above is, actually, a collection of photographs. If you stare long enough at one eye, you begin to imagine what they are feeling.
Where to find Street Art in Quito: A variety of artwork can be found in the following neighborhoods, Floresta, Guápulo, Monteserrín, and La Mariscal. But, Floresta was my favorite. There is even a walking tour called: Floresta Street Art Tour.
If there is one word to describe Northern Argentina, it’s colorful. This characteristic is present in everything from landscapes to street art.
While the towns in Northern Argentina are small, the murals are massive. The artists here focus on showcasing indigenous and Incan culture and traditions.
The mural above was on the main street in Humahuaca. It was one of my favorites in Northern Argentina.
Where to find Street Art in Northern Argentina: Street art can be found in Salta, Purmamarca, Tilcara, and Humahuaca.
Lima has some of the most spectacular street art in South America. And the most eye-catching street art is in Barranco.
Barranco is a small bohemian neighborhood, where many artists have taken to the streets to tell their story. Much of the street art is inspired by spirituality, innocence, and equality. Within these subjects, artists emphasize the importance of freedom for all human beings. My favorite piece is shown above. It depicts a woman carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.
Women in Peru are fighting for equality. They are considered second-class citizens, yet they carry all the responsibility. This mural is a perfect representation of the current situation.
Where to find Street Art in Lima: While street art can be found throughout Lima, Barranco is the most well-known neighborhood. There is even a walking tour called: Barranco Street Art Tour.
Santa Marta, Colombia
The street art in Santa Marta has a lighter tone than in most other cities.
In Santa Marta, murals are colorful, lively, and fun. You will see vibrant caricatures displayed through the city. While the street art here is less thought-provoking, it will make you smile!
Where to find Street Art in Santa Marta: Street art can be found throughout Santa Marta.
No article on street art is complete without Comuna 13.
In the 1990s, Medellin was one of the most dangerous cities in the world. And Comuna 13 was the most dangerous neighborhood in Medellin. It was at the center of gang warfare and poverty for over a decade. But, after a long-fought battle, the Colombian government seized control and removed the cartels from power. It was at that point; the residents began expressing their hardships through street art.
Since then, Medellin has undergone a major revitalization. It is, now, a center of innovation and culture.
Today, beautiful murals are displayed throughout the neighborhood. And it is these murals that attract tourists from around the world.
The mural shown above is titled, Violence has No Face. It was my favorite piece in Comuna 13. I need to explain what this represents.
Where to find Street Art in Medellin: The best place to find street art is in Comuna 13. I would recommend taking an organized tour: Medellin Street Art Tour.
Every City has a Story to Tell
Graffiti (or street art) has become a symbol of unity and a voice of the people in South America. Every city’s walls will tell a unique story and a different struggle. It’s a great way to learn about the culture, tradition, and the local people!
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Read More Travel Guides from South America
I hope you enjoyed my article on the best places for street art in South America. Here are some other travel guides from South America that I think you might enjoy!
Do you have any questions about the best places for street art in South America? Leave your questions in the comments below!
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