“Cartagena de Indias“, to give the city its full title, is a city that commands attention. Owing to its history it is one of Latin America’s most important and intriguing destinations, while its cobblestone streets and colourful colonial houses make it one of the continent’s most enchanting and popular cities.
A little history: the city was founded in 1533 by Pedro de Heredia, a Spanish conqueror, and was named Cartagena after the city in which most the sailors were born. In the ensuing century many attempts were made to pillage and plunder the increasingly wealthy and well-renowned city, including a successful attempt by Sir Francis Drake, in which he destroyed a quarter of the city. Many more attempts were made on the city by English, French, Italian and Spanish fleets, with the total attempts on the city tallying up to eighteen. In 1811, Cartagena became the first province to declare independence from Spanish rule and so began a period of industrial development, aided by Cartagena’s advantageous location.
Today the city is one of Latin America’s tourism highlights owing to the Old City, which is the focal point of any journey to Cartagena. There are plenty of other highlights outside the city walls, including La Popa, where you’ll find a stunning view of the city, and the Castillo de San Felipe Barajas, the strongest and most impressive fortress built in any of Spain’s colonies. Bocagrande, a port not far from the Old City, is where you’ll find the bulk of modern hotels and apartments. Its coastal position and assortment of skyscrapers recall a miniature Rio de Janeiro or Miami – a far cry from the quaint charm of the Old City.
When all is said and done, though, the real appeal of travel to Cartagena is meandering through the leafy streets of the Old City, absorbing the history and atmosphere of the city while drinking coffee in one of its many bohemian cafes. It’s a magical part of the world, unlike any other city I know.
Interested in a vacation to Cartagena? You can get all the advice and information you need and some great tour options over at See Colombia Travel.
More information on Cartagena here:
El Bistro and more, our top restaurants in Cartagena
And for more photos of Cartagena, please check out our collaborative Cartagena Photos Gallery, where these amazing photos were taken from.