Shopping Malls in Medellin: are they a thing?
Who would have thought shopping Malls in Medellin were a thing?!
You’ve seen Narcos and a documentary on Escobar; you may have heard of the FARC and drunk a Colombian deep roast; or know of Gabriel Garcia Márquez and Shakira; the amazing biodiversity or Cartagena and Obama’s bodyguard scandal?
Little more than that, certainly not enough to prepare you for the Malltastic reality of this modern, metropolis!
Medellin’s troubled history – we know little, imagine much and fear more!
What strikes one on arrival in Medellin is the modernity and wealth on display.
You land and make your way to the upscale districts of El Poblado, Envigado or Laureles, popular with
What you are not prepared for is the ubiquity of the mega shopping Mall.
Some of the most modern, finest and largest Malls you will find anywhere barring Dubai and LA!
It is an embedded part of the Paisa lifestyle, culture and experience to go to the Mall, just as much as North American neighbours, more-so even than Europeans.
They are thriving bustling and provide security, air conditioning and an escape from edgier chaos of street life.
In a city dominated by cars and mopeds, They also provide massive underground parking for the upwardly mobile middle to zip around (not in rush hour!, meeting friends and shopping without stepping out onto the ‘mean’ streets.
The basements all have their hypermarkets and it’s Éxito that seems to have the monopoly on these prime grocery sites. In the lost wealthy areas its Carulla, but that’s part of the same group.
Only 20 years ago this was a global narcotics hub, only recently shifting to Tijuana, Mexico on thre southernmost border of the USA.
With success in any business comes the challenge of how to invest the gains, no doubt their proliferation, is, in part a reflection of this?
Malls close the circle for the cash rich performing a vital function of access to designer goods, allowing them to signal the status they crave.
Either way, they are surprisingly unpretentious, with great Christmas displays, generally excellent service, offering a respite from the sun or showers and traffic, safe banking and a place for all to hang out, consume and play.
Malls are also great levellers, no matter if you can only afford an ice cream, or are hunting for the latest Gucci handbag. Once punters are swaggering in their best gear through the Mall, who is to know if you are from a gated community or a deprived area, clinging to the hillsides on the other side of town.
The Medellín Malls, a fairytale promise of an aspirational lifestyle, a way to (briefly!) escape the life you have.
I will shortly be adding a list of the major Malls in key parts of the city, with a brief description and links to google maps, to guide you there.
1/ Santa Fe Mall, el Poblado
Carrera 43A, Cl. 7 Sur, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
5CWG+G9 Medellín, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia