The Prado neighborhood in Medellin, Colombia was born from the desire to emulate an area in Barranquilla, Colombia with the same name. This neighborhood of Barranquilla was where many foreign immigrants arrived and became very wealthy based on trade and shipping. They built spectacular European & Mediterranean style mansions in Prado, Barranquilla. The greatest promoter of this neighborhood in Medellin was millionaire Ricardo Olano who, impressed by what he saw in Barranquilla, wanted to replicate this opulant style in the Antioquian capital of Medellin.
Enthusiastic about this idea, many Antioquians returned from their trips bringing photographs and engravings of the houses they had seen abroad and wished to replicate in the new Prado of Medellin. Soon, the neighborhood became the most prominent planned area in Medellin with the best sidewalks and streets in the city. Twice a year, the Guayacanes trees (lignum vitae trees) planted up and down the sidewalks in Prado would bloom their magnificent yellow flowers and carpet the entire area with their beautiful droppings. Due to a wide variety of styles found in construction, Prado resembles a huge museum of architecture, displaying oriental, republican, neoclassic and belle epoque designs.
This neighborhood reached its pinnacle between 1930 & 1950, when the industrial and commercial activity of the city was booming. However, due to rapid expansion of the city, the area was no longer isolated and became intermixed with the hustle bustle of new Medellin. Soon thereafter, many of Prado’s inhabitants traded in their designer mansions for the more laid back and quiet neighborhoods of Laureles and Poblado.
Although this rapid exodus caused some concern over Prado’s cultural and architectural heritage, a great number of it houses have been preserved due to civic and private cultural foundations dedicated to the city’s heritage. There have only been a few houses that have been demolished in order to give way to larger commercial buildings and retail centers. The rest of the neighborhood is currently undergoing a renovation and rehab process to improve public areas and is being coordinated by Medellin’s Secretaria de Cultura.