Quiosco de la Luz (Kiosk of Light), Bogota

Bogota’s Kiosk of Light

photography by: Omri Westmark

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Incredibly common are the cases where we take for granted our modern-day amenities, whether it is the internet, running water or electricity, the latter of which exists in large scale for merely a century or so. Tucked away in one of Bogota’s verdant parks is a Parisian-style edifice whose apt name – Kiosk of Light, alludes to its former role as a micro power plant that illuminated some of the city’s most iconic sites, long before electricity became a thing of the norm in Colombia.

Obscured by a handful of luxuriant trees, the small belvedere in Parque de la Independencia is a quaint sight to behold at, yet despite its attractiveness, it pales in comparison to the building’s historical significance.

 

Built in 1909, the octagonal structure is the sole vestige of Colombia’s first technological and commercial exhibition marking a centenary of its independence. As its name implies, Quiosco de la Luz (Kiosk of Light) once served as a pint-sized power station, illuminating a series of public squares and parks across the Colombian capital, most notably Parque Santander, Plaza de Bolívar and the garden where it sits to date.

 

Commissioned by the Cementos Samper company, the former pavilion was modeled after a 18th century belvedere erected by Marie Antoinette as part of her lavish Petit Trianon estate in the Gardens of Versailles.

 

In its heyday, this Parisian replica was awed by thousands of visitors alongside dozens of other pavilions, each of which showcased a different discipline or a country. In 1957, the kiosk became the only extant building of the once bustling fair following the demolition of all of its counterparts in favor of a brand-new street.

 

Over the years, the pavilion has served multiple purposes, including a flower shop, a library and an art gallery. In 1979, after nearly a decade of abandonment, the structure was purchased by the nearby Bogotá Museum of Modern Art which designated it as a painting workshop for schoolchildren.

 

The ornate kiosk has since undergone a thorough restoration and as of today, proclaims to host a tourist information center, albeit in practice, its interior space is conspicuously empty. Apart from its historical merit, the peach-hued edifice also features a slew of ornaments to marvel at, with four intricate reliefs of Roman and Greek gods standing out throughout its eight-sided façade.

 

Further afield is the aforementioned museum of modern art, connected to the park by a stairway colorfully decorated with stained-glass arches.