"Cartagena: Departamento del Magdalena: Colombia" Cartagena by TooTallFinn24
Cartagena Travel Guide: 56 reviews and 163 photos
Fascinated years ago by the movie "Romancing the Stone," when the opportunity provided itself to be in Cartagena I was off. Nestled against the southern shores of the Caribbean, Cartagena is indeed a jewel with its bright pastel colors and frequent traces of its colonial past. Fortunately I speak Spanish well enough to make touring this City again very enjoyable.
The City is home to over 900,000 people which makes it the fifth largest city in Columbia and the country's busiest port.
The history of the Cartagena area dates back nearly 4,000 years when the area was home to several groups of indigenous people most notably called the Calamari. In 1533 Pedro de Heredia founded the first Spanish settlement. The City was namef, first "Cartagena de Poniente" was added to it (of the West) and later "Cartagena de Indias" (of the Indies) to seperate it from the City of the same name in Spain. In a short period of time Cartagena became the most popular trading City of the entire Spanish Empire. Because of the wealth of the area's resources and shipping the City was a frequent site for pirates to sack.
Cartagena is an extremely walkable City. Despite all of the stories of the cocaine trade in Columbia I never felt afraid walking the streets of downtown.
The City's walls were constructed beginning in the late 1600's after the attack of Sir Francis Drake to keep out the pirates out. Walls were fortified and added to over the years and the complete construction of the walls took nearly two centuries to complete. The walls range in height from about ten to twelve feet high. What is interesting is that the walls appear to be of floral. They are in amazingly good shape considering their age.
The best way to see the marvels of the walled city is by foot. It is also the best place to stay in the City. The streets are a continuous surprise of vibrant colonial homes, painted all colors of the rainbows. These extreme colors attack your senses in a variety of great ways making you want to walk on and on. Many of the homes have balconies with colorful flower baskets or shrubs that flow out into the street.
When it rains in Cartagena and the sea is at high tide a good portion of the coastal part of the city floods. Even well after the rains you can walk around town seeing huge puddles of water nearly everywhere. When I first arrived in town I thought it was because of global warming and the rising sea. However locals told me this is an increasingly frequent event.
As you extend to the boundaries of the walled city you see reproductions of the defense systems and gun stations that were in place to fend off attacks from pirates. Walking the top of these walls is not only interesting but provides some great views of the City. Only a minor amount of climbing is necessary and again I felt very safe doing this. However under no circumstances would I walk the walls of the walled city at night. See warnings later
Centrally located and easily accessible Plaza Bolivar is just a really nice way to relax or see the sights around the... more travel advice
Las Bovedas was part of a prison that was built inside the walled City in 1792. It is now a series of tourist shops with... more travel advice
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