At number 4 Duke Street, Marylebone, London passers-by can spot a blue plaque that is dedicated to a man named Simón Bolívar. Now, you are forgiven if you’ve never heard of Bolívar as despite his great achievements, he is celebrated in Latin America yet relatively unknown outside of this area of the world.
Bolivar was born to wealthy Creoles in Caracas, Venezuela in July 1783. His parents died when he was young, so Bolivar was raised by his Uncle. As he was growing up he was taught by a personal tutor named Rodriguez. Rodriguez exposed Bolivar to great writers of enlightenment, such as Voltaire and Rousseau, both of which had been key to inspiring the French Revolution. Rodriguez had a profound impact on Bolivar but he had to flee the country as he was suspected of trying to overthrow Spain’s colonial rule in 1796.
Following this, Bolivar was sent to Spain to complete his education but he didn’t hide the fact that he admired the French Revolution and American Independence. Bolivar did return to Caracas with his new wife, but due to her untimely death from Yellow Fever, he returned to Europe to immerse himself in the intellectual and political world that he enjoyed so much.
It wasn’t until 1810, when Caracus staged a coup against the Spanish military presence that Bolivar’s campaign to free Latin American countries from Spanish rule.
During his lifetime he liberated what are now the states of Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama from the Spanish Empire. To achieve this he fought 472 battles and covered 123,000 kilometres on horseback, which is 10 times more than Hannibal, three times more than Napoleon, and twice as much as Alexander the Great.
So, when did Bolivar visit London? Bolivar was sent to London shortly after Caracas claimed independence from Spanish rule in 1810. Bolivar was sent to head a diplomatic mission to gain British support for the newly formed Junta in Caracas and support for a fully independent Venezuela. At this stage, Bolivar was in no position to lobby the British government to support a fully independent Venezuela, however, London provided the ideal platform to raise funds, recruit volunteers and buying weapons for the rebel armies. Bolivar did not stay in London for long. He arrived in July 1810 and left in September 1810. However, his fierce determination to claim independence for his country is more than enough to earn a blue plaque of historical significance.
After viewing the Blue Plaque, take a leisurely stroll around Regent’s Park or visit Aubaine and experience the best of French cuisine in London.
Next up: Madame Tussauds