This leafy square is the nucleus of the old town. It's always alive with huddled groups of caraqueños engaged in conversation and children feeding freshly popped corn to the black squirrels in the trees. Vendors hawk lemonade and cepilladas (shaved ices) on the sidelines, and the whole scene is shaded by African tulip trees and jacarandas. Golden cherubs gather round the fountains at each corner of the square.
In the center is the obligatory monument to Bolívar – the equestrian statue was cast in Munich, shipped in pieces, and eventually unveiled in 1874 after the ship carrying it foundered on the Archipiélago los Roques. The plaza is a favorite stage for political visionaries and religious messiahs, who deliver their passionate speeches to a casual audience. In recent years it's been a focus for supporters of Venezuela's left-wing government, with stalls selling videos, paintings and photos of the late Hugo Chávez alongside saints and musical legends.