There’s something unusual about this statue of Simón Bolívar. The Liberator is perched atop a charging steed, his arm outstretched, as he races onward. The horse wears no tack, and, most unusually, Bolívar wears no clothing.
The only public monument showing Bolívar without clothing, medals, or swords is a symbol of liberty and a message for equality. Wanting something unique to commemorate the centennial for the city of Pereira, Lázaro Nicholls, a past mayor, commissioned the famed sculptor Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt to come up with an image of Bolívar that would set up this city’s plaza apart from the rest.
Initially the monument was going to depict a Bolívar fully dressed in military attire, however, the artist thought it was a better idea for the sculpture to portray the revolutionary in a different way. Stripped of his military garb and accolades, this statue exudes a sense of freedom. Bolívar is shown galloping on his stallion, unrestrained and independent, while charging onward. Bolívar’s nudity serves a second purpose, as the statue’s lack of clothing also symbolizes equality.
Naturally, this unconventional depiction of Bolívar attracted its fair share of criticism and backlash. But today, more than 50 years since the monument was unveiled, it remains a celebrated local attraction.
Know Before You Go
The monument is located in the middle of the Plaza de Bolívar.