Cartagena de Indias is the capital of the Bolivar Province. The metropolitan area has a population of 1,240,000. It is the fifth largest urban area in Colombia. Today the city is a center of economic activity in the Caribbean region and a popular tourist destination.
Cartagena’s walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Hot, sultry, filled with the sounds of music and bright with color and tradition, Cartagena de Indias has been an important port on the Caribbean since it was founded in 1533. Gold and silver left the port bound for Europe, pirates looted the city, and a walled fort grew to protect both shipping and the slave trade. Its colonial charm and the old walled city, the Ciudad Amarullada, with tiled roofs, balconies and flower-filled courtyards, beckons visitors to stroll the narrow streets of to enjoy a weekend getaway.
Cartagena’s cathedral, with its massive exterior, simple interior and fortress appearance was begun in 1575, partially demolished by Sir Francis Drake’s cannons, and then completed in 1602. The Iglesia de Santo Domingo, which is little changed from colonial days, is the oldest church in the city, and like the cathedral, was built to resist invaders.
The Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is the largest of a series of fortresses built to protect the city from pirates. A must-see is the tunnel system meant to facilitate supply and evacuation of the fortress.
We joined some friends for our own excursion into the city, as opposed to the ship's tour. Our main points of interest were the old fort, San Felipe de Barajas, and the old walled city. We hope you enjoy Cartagena from our point of view!