SHOWS LIKE NETFLIX’S hit ‘Narcos’ and others like it have revived the fascination with Colombian drug cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar. Once the seventh richest men on the planet, Escobar controlled a cocaine empire marked by terror, corruption and a deeply divided society. That legacy also meant that for years his hometown of Medellin was a no-go zone for international travelers.
But more than 20 years after his death, Medellin is actively shedding that bad reputation. Ambitious urban planning and community projects have transformed the city from one of the most dangerous in the world to a hub of innovation. Just this year Medellin won The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, a prestigious international award that honors the city’s transformation and achievements.
Known as the City of Eternal Spring, Medellin is nestled in a valley surrounded by lush mountains, with a temperate climate all year. With a vibrant art scene, a booming nightlife and relative safety, it’s not hard to see why the people, known as paisas, are fiercely proud. Travelers who want to learn about the history of Pablo Escobar won’t be disappointed, but most residents are happiest talking about their city in the present tense.