As one of the most popular spots for visitors to Bogota, the luxurious Hotel del Salto (La Casa del Salto del Tequendama) in San Antonio del Tequendama, Colombia, was first built in 1923 as a residential mansion for well-to-do architect Carlos Arturo Tapias.
The building displays divine French architecture and high windows and was constructed as a symbol of the joy and elegance of the elite citizens of the 20s. “The Mansion of Tequendama Falls“, as the house was called, was built during the presidency of Pedro Nel Ospina (1922-1926).
By 1928, an addition had been built and the building had opened as a hotel, to welcome wealthy travelers visiting the Tequendama Falls area. This venture was a successful one, as the hotel would be in operation for the next 60 years.
Starting in July 1950, the building was to be reconstructed into an eighteen-floor hotel, but that construction never began and the Hotel Del Salto continued on until the original structure became too damaged to operate from the ever increasingly polluted Bogota River.
Tourists gradually lost their interest to the area and the hotel closed in the early part of the 1990’s and was left abandoned ever since.
Tragically, it was also the scene of several suicides. The fact that many people in the past chose that spot to commit suicide, made others believe that the hotel is haunted.
According to the local legend, the indigenous Muisca Indians used to jump from Tequendama Falls (to avoid capture by Spanish conquerors during the conquest of South America) and, where upon falling, they would transform into an eagle and fly to their freedom. This mythical story attracted the broken-hearted who leapt to their death from the hotel’s cliffs overlooking the falls.
In 2011, the Ecological Farm Foundation of Porvenir and the National University of Colombia’s Institute of Natural Sciences began a joint restoration effort of the hotel’s intricate architecture. Their mission was to convert the Hotel Del Salto into a museum that would serve as a national symbol of cultural heritage and environmental restoration.
They renamed it the “Tequendama Falls Museum of Biodiversity and Culture,“ and in 2013, the mansion reopened as a museum with its first exhibit: “Caverns, ecosystems of the subterranean world.”