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Caracas

With a well-deserved reputation for violence and danger, Caracas is a daunting city for many travelers. It is still one of the more cosmopolitan cities in Latin America, with vibrant business, social, and cultural scenes. Architecturally, Caracas is one of the most modern and distinctive cities in Latin America. Concrete and plate glass reign supreme, much of it showing the bold forms and sleek lines of the Art Deco and postmodern architectural currents of the last half of the 20th century. Aficionados will enjoy works of Carlos Raúl Villanueva, a local architect who often integrated into his designs large kinetic sculptures by such renowned figures as Alexander Calder and Jesús Soto.

Caracas, and the international airport in Maiquetía, is the de facto hub for travel to and around Venezuela. If you plan on visiting several destinations in the country, you will be passing through Caracas as part of your itinerary. You can easily get a good feel for the city and its major attractions in a couple of days.

Safety First -- It's not just hype: Caracas is one of the most violent and dangerous cities in Latin America. Be very careful about where you walk, what you wear, and with whom you associate. Don't wear fancy jewelry or flash lots of cash, and keep close watch on your personal belongings. Take a well-marked taxi, or one called by your hotel, whenever possible. Be wary of unofficial cabs, or piratas. And, finally, don't get too adventurous at night.

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