Check out Barranquilla’s historical customs house, “La Aduana”

Plaza La Aduana. Photo: Mike Chartrand

Some of the oldest and most significant buildings in Barranquilla are located at Plaza Aduana which is the site of the original customs building and also Barranquilla’s old train station. A beautifully designed and maintained structure, ‘La Aduana’ is spread across four separate buildings on a very well-kept campus. There’s even an old locomotive upon which children can play.

The front plaza of ‘La Aduana’ and the front entrance for Biblioteca Piloto Caribe. Photo: Barranquilla Life

Although the building has substantial history, it continues to be of significant value to the city, housing the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce, the Piloto del Caribe Library, the Historical Archive of Atlantico, the literary and musical collections of the famous musician, Hans Federico Neuman, and a few other notable foundations.

The second floor of Biblioteca Piloto Caribe. Photo: Barranquilla Life

Because the facility houses existing businesses, most areas have restricted access, however, visitors can roam the grounds, marvel at the architecture, and use the library. The library and the archives within are open to the public from 0900 to 1700, Monday to Friday and 0900 to 1300 on Saturdays.


Piloto del Caribe Library offers free access to over thirty internet-connected computers with headphones and they also have eight touch-screen workstations. There are several quiet spaces where patrons can work (free wifi and electrical outlets) and many other spaces where you can relax in a comfortable chair with the latest newspaper or magazine – the library has several subscriptions. Plus, between the archive and the central library, you have access to close to 200,000 books, magazines or documents. Overall, it’s a great place to go if you need to get some work done and you don’t want any interruptions. From the lobby, you can also access their art gallery which regularly displays exhibits from local artists.

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The art gallery on the main floor of Biblioteca Piloto Caribe. Photo: Mike Chartrand

Biblioteca Piloto del Caribe often plays host to events in their auditorium, on the plaza out in front, and also at various venues throughout the city. They are an active contributor to music, art, poetry, classes, and lectures alike. Check out their calendar of events here.

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Benches in front of Biblioteca Piloto Caribe. Photo: Mike Chartrand

Getting to Plaza La Aduana is very easy. You can take a taxi from anywhere – tell the driver to take you to “La Aduana en Via Cuarenta (La Ah-dwana en Vee-ah coo-ah-ren-tah), or if you’re more adventurous, you can take one of the Puerto Colombia buses (the colorful ones). To be sure you have the right bus, make sure to tell the driver you’re going to La Aduana. The bus will drop you off directly in front of the property. The bus fare should be around $1200 pesos. To come back, cross the street and take the same bus going in the opposite direction.

A group of students in front of an old locomotive next to Estacion Montoya at La Aduana. Photo: Mike Chartrand

For more info on La Aduana, you can also take a look at the following articles: