The conception of the idea
After more than a decade of works and after succeeding in developing the first educational platform in the region (El Porvenir Natural Reserve), the members of the GEP Foundation decided to endeavor the rescue of the Tequendama Waterfalls.
To achieve this objective, the Foundation decided to include in the project the emblematic house located in front of the waterfalls, which was by then abandoned. The idea was to transform the former train station into a learning scenario conceived to inform about the historical and cultural importance of the Tequendama region. Besides, the museum's visitors could learn about the ecosystem services provided by the cloud forests and share ideas and solutions related to the current environmental and social issues of the region.
Today, the Tequendama House Museum is a reality thanks to various cooperation agreements, and the effort, enthusiasm, and disinterested work of multiple volunteers of all ages and backgrounds.
The project has shown very positive results: The Tequendama Waterfalls have reappeared in the news, and there is a growing number of tourists coming to visit the place because of the increasing interest in learning more about the local biodiversity.
First steps towards restoration
By 2009, the GEP Foundation achieved to establish contact with the former owners of the old Hotel del Salto and propose the installation of Casa Museo Tequendama (Tequendama House Museum), a biodiversity and culture museum, inside the antique construction. After some months, an agreement was reached and the GEP Foundation formally started working in the project.
In 2011, the architect restorer Claudia Hernández and her team, donated their knowledge and time to study the infrastructure of the house and draft the museum project's first proposal. In addition to the work carried out by the architect Hernández, the engineer Luis Guillermo Aycardi, a nationally recognized leader in his field, executed the necessary research studies to accomplish the structural reinforcement of the building.
At the same time, the GEP Foundation was actively participating in the research on the history of the construction, which led to the finding of key information related to the kind of materials and different architectural elements that were part of the house when it was built.
So, little by little and with the help of many experts, the museum project's first proposal became a reality in 2016.
From a train station to a museum
By the end of the 19th century, the efforts of the Colombian government were focused on the construction of railways around the country. The aim was to connect all the regions of the country and to promote domestic tourism. Given the large number of tourists who used to visit the Tequendama Falls, the Colombian president at that time, General Pedro Nel Ospina ordered the construction of the south train terminal of Bogota in front of the renowned waterfall. Originally, the building was conceived as a train station and a hotel with a view over the falls.
The first draft of the Tequendama Falls train station appeared in 1912. The station was built between 1923 and 1927 and remained in service until the middle of the 20th century. Soon after, the so-known Hotel del Salto (Tequendama Falls Hotel) became a restaurant renowned nationwide for its luxurious details and as a place for the local “high society”. The magnificent construction consists of 1,470 square meters distributed within five levels. Unfortunately, due to the high contamination of the Bogota river, it closed by the 1980s.
After more than 30 years of complete abandonment, the house was in an advanced state of deterioration. Today, tourists from all regions of the country visit the Tequendama House Museum to learn about the history of the place and its recovery.