What was once the door to the New World is now the most popular port city on the Colombian coast. Cartagena’s walls and fortress stand vigilant above white sandy beaches. Elegant colonial homes surround plazas filled with fine restaurants, bars and trendy shops.
Cartagena’s warm weather and cool ocean breezes make it the ideal vacation getaway. Every corner of Cartagena tells a story and every neighborhood is a witness to its history.
Cartagena’s people are happy and friendly. You can’t go anywhere without hearing the sounds of cumbia and salsa. Part of Cartagena’s charm is seen throughout neighborhoods filled with colonial homes. Locals sit in their balconies sipping tropical drinks.
Cartagena’s downtown boasts a large scene of historical icons. The cathedral and clock tower were built in Italian style and are among the city’s important venues. The nearby Clock Gate once connected Cartagena to the controversial neighborhood known as Getsemani. It’s here where African blacks brought to be sold in slavery lived before being freed. Also in the vicinity and worth a visit is the Square of St. Pedro Claver and his church. Both are prime examples of fine contemporary architecture.
Cartagena is a city proud of its heritage and of its heroes. As such, it’s home to the Bolivar Square where the statue of Simon Bolivar stands at the center. If you recall from history, he liberated the South American countries from the Spaniards.
Culture is an important part of Cartagena’s life. Visitors can enjoy museums, galleries, theater and music halls. Art is seen throughout the city in sculpture exhibits and works of art sitting in important squares. One of the most recognized in Cartagena is the sculpture of the Reclining Woman housed in the church of St. Domingo. This is one of Fernando Botero’s masterpieces.
And not far from the center of town is Cartagena’s pride, the Castle of San Felipe. It’s described by historians as the most amazing fortress ever built. Proof of this is the fact that the city was never overtaken by pirates or its enemies. The tunnels coming out of the fort are an outstanding accomplishment in themselves.
Other neighborhoods of Cartagena make for the perfect locations to shop and dine on superb coastal gastronomy. Bocagrande is one of the newest areas and boasts a wide selection of nightclubs, bars and art galleries.
As Cartagena was the door to the New World, it benefited from all the great imports brought by the Spaniards. Tropical fruits from the Canary Islands like apples, oranges and lemons became popular staples. Today’s Cartagena cuisine is an array of influences of African, Spanish and Indian flavors. Fresh seafood is found on every menu among fine restaurants.
And shopping in Cartagena is an exciting experience. Whether it’s exploring the narrow streets, bargain hunting at the markets or browsing through large malls, you’ll find everything you want. Specialty shops stock fine selections of pre-Colombian replicas and fine quality emeralds.
Cartagena is traditional, it’s fun, and it’s unique. It’s a destination you don’t want to miss.