Normally, I rarely visit any country's capital since they often have few charms, lots of traffic, pollution and violence. San Salvador is among the cities with the highest murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants. In fact, it's ranking number 17 and ahead of it there are 6 Mexican cities, 5 Brazilian cities, 1 in Pakistan, 1 in Venezuela, 1 in the USA, 1 in South Africa, and 1 in Jamaica. Some frightening statistics.
Why risk a trip to El Salvador's capital? To renew my visa. In the region, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua all share the same visa. So I needed to file an application for a visa extension that would also be used in the country I still haven't visited (Honduras and Nicaragua).
All this process lasted only 3 days, but I also needed to find a new rear tire for the motorbike. That was harder than getting the new visa. Consequently, I stayed 7 days in the capital, and I took advantage of my time to visit the city and a few places of interest in the vicinity.
It's not the most alluring city, and the pollution from traffic is quite high, but my stay was pleasant.
My hotel was located in the historic centre, near the central plaza and the cathedral. All the area is safe during the day and at the beginning of the evening, but after 19hr, the streets empty out. I didn't feel any danger during my stay, but at the same time, I didn't play with fire by going around the city in the evening.
The violence problem is associated with street gangs killing each other to defend their territory, and for the control of drugs. Everything happens in specific neighbourhood, and nights are much more perilous than daytime. By looking at all the graffiti in the streets around my hotel, I think that the police presence is not so high during the night... Graffiti artists seem to have it easy when while working on their 'art.'
This strange-looking building is home to the Church of El Rosario. Do not judge it by its outside look. Its exterior is ugly, but the inside is unique and very nice.
The wall around a hospital compound is covered by some impressive paintings.
A whole week in the city, it's a long time! I had time to visit a few museums. Here is the Museum of Arts.
San Andrés was the capital of a small Mayan kingdom, some 1,400 years ago. All right, it's not the prettiest ruins around...
This site, close to the capital, is often referred as the Pompeii of America. As the ancient Roman city, Joya de Cerén was buried by the volcanic ashes from Laguna Caldera Volcano that erupted AD 595. The inhabitants fled the city leaving most of their possession, giving archeologists some important data about how these people lived in their time.
It's astonishing to see the quantity of ashes covering the houses that have been excavated to this day. There are about 4-5 metres of ashes.
San Salvador Volcano, also called Quezaltepeque, dominates the city with its two adjacent summits. One of these summits is called El Boquerón (Big Mouth) and there is a second volcanic cone within its crater.
A nice park with a few nice trails and viewpoints on San Salvador and its suburbs.