According to allcitycodes.com, Cartagena is located in the northwest of Colombia. This port city has the same name as Cartagena in Spain in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. That is no coincidence, because the Colombian version is named after the Spanish Cartagena. It is therefore also called ‘Cartagena de Indias’. The city has more than 1 million inhabitants and has grown into an important economic center due to its location. This important economic function has contributed to Cartagena also having a lot to offer from a touristic point of view, such as a city center that has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1980.
Cartagena ‘s Top 10 Things to Do
#1. Plaza de los Coches
If you want to visit the walled part of the old city through the gate of the bell tower of Cartagena, this is the first square you come to. Plaza de los Coches is the square where slaves from Africa used to be traded. Today it is mainly an important central place of the historic center of Cartagena. From here, among other things, the horse carts depart for their tours through the center. The spacious plaza is flanked by some beautiful old buildings and in the center of the plaza is the statue of Pedro de Heridia watching over the crowd. He was the founder of this city.
#2. Torre del Reloj
The ‘Torre del Reloj’ is the main entrance to the old town of Catargena. This bell tower is placed above the entrance gate of the city, which is still completely closed by the old city walls and fortifications. This beautiful bell tower has an enormous appeal because of its appearance. In this way, visitors to the city are immediately steered in the right direction. Also noteworthy is the Tuscan style of the portico, as well as the characteristic golden yellow color that adorns the outside of the bell tower. The tower is originally more than five hundred years old and has suffered at times. Repair work had to be carried out on a regular basis.
The nicest neighborhood of Cartagena is undoubtedly Getsemaní. Although the old center is the reason why many people visit Cartagena, there is something lively and cozy about this neighborhood. Characteristic are all the many buildings in different cheerful colors. You will also find many tasty and good restaurants, beautiful murals and you can also spend the night here. Especially if you’re up early, it’s nice to stroll through this neighborhood when she wakes up. It is still nice and quiet and you see how the children go to school and how Getsemaní comes back to life. The central place in the district is the square ‘Plaza de Trinidat’. It gets very cozy here, especially in the evenings.
#4. Church of San Pedro Clavero
Colombia, including Cartagena, has a deeply rooted Catholic tradition and culture due to the former Spanish rulers. This results in a number of churches, of which Iglesia de San Pedro Claver should certainly not be missed. The church is dedicated to ‘San Pedro Claver’, whose bones are also interred in the church building. The church was built between 1580 and 1654. Originally it was a church in honor of San Juan de Dios. After that it became the church of San Ignacio de Loyola and today it is dedicated to San Pedro Claver. This church has enormous architectural and cultural value and is therefore a national monument in Colombia.
#5. The Old City Walls
One of the reasons Cartagena is considered the most beautiful city in Colombia is the city’s old city walls. Las Murallas, as the city walls are also called, were mainly made to keep pirates out. For a long time Cartagena was an important port city where there was something to be gained. The city walls are still well preserved and well worth admiring. Certainly together with other fortifications, the city walls are an impressive whole that ensures that the old center still looks very authentic to this day.
#6. Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
Cartagena’s main fortification is Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. The fortress is prominent due to its location on a hill. It was the Spaniards who started the construction of the fort in 1536. In 1657 the fortification was expanded again. You should definitely visit Castillo San Felipe de Barajas when you are in Cartagena. Moreover, the castle also offers beautiful views over the farmlands and the ocean. For a long time the fortress must have been an impregnable fortress when you see how robust it looks. Besides that the outside of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas is very beautiful, the inside is also a special experience to walk through.
#7. Plaza de la Aduana
The longest and oldest square in the historic center of Cartagena is Plaza de la Aduana. Parades used to be held here and it was also the main venue of the city due to the many government services housed in buildings around the square. It is still an important square. For example, here is the town hall, which has found residence in the old royal customs building. In the center of the square we meet an old acquaintance. Christopher Columbus is honored here with a beautiful statue made of marble. The square is flanked with numerous beautiful and colorful buildings. The palm trees ensure that the square comes across as very beautiful and lively.
#8. Museo del Oro Zenú
A museum does not always have to be large to be impressive. Museo del Oro Zenú is a good example here. The gold museum is relatively small, but houses a special collection. You will be presented with numerous objects that date from pre-Colombian culture. This gold museum has some beautiful objects dating back to long before the Spaniards set foot here. Admission to the museum is free, so that’s an extra plus! Also, the presence of air conditioning in the various rooms where the artifacts are displayed can be very pleasant on a hot day.
#9. Las Bóvedas
Between the fortresses of Santa Clara and Santa Catalina you will find Las Bóvedas. This long corridor is built against the city wall on one side and on the other side is a cover marked by a column of arches. Originally, the small spaces had a function as a cell and dungeon. Today is a good place to pick up some nice souvenirs from Cartagena. The building is very long and therefore a beautiful whole. From the top you have a beautiful view of the Caribbean Sea. In total, this corridor contains 47 porches from which merchants now sell their goods. The building itself was completed in 1795.
If you’re staying in Cartagena, chances are your hotel is located in the Bocagrande district. Where Cartagena is mainly known for its authenticity, this is slightly different at Bocagrande. Of course there are old buildings, but especially the luxury and comfort in these often residential areas are characteristic of this district. The district is very convenient to a number of tourist attractions and has a number of nice nightlife options. It is not the cheapest place in the city, but as a tourist you can certainly find a stay here where you can enjoy luxury and comfort. A room in one of the skyscrapers can also treat you to a spectacular view of, for example, the old city center.