The historic World Heritage city could not be more fascinating. With the atmosphere of its beaches, as in the nearby Rosario Islands, and its romantic nights set to the rhythm of folklore.

The importance of this city in Colombia, an hour and a half from Bogotá, lies in the ancient old city, preserved by the thick walls built after pirate invasions. On the night tour through the historic neighborhoods of Downtown and San Diego, with its colonial streets and squares with flowery balconies with a Spanish touch and dozens of boutique hotels nestled in restaurants, its old palaces, cocktail bars, and shops.

It is observed to meet the palenqueras along their route, those women always smiling, dressed in colors, who elegantly display the most varied and fresh fruits of the country on their heads. And, of course, discover the architecture of its main buildings, starting with La Puerta del Reloj, also called Boca del Puente and the main entrance to the site, with its 1888 clock; the majestic Cathedral of Santa Catalina de Alejandría, which has a beautiful Florentine-style dome and the Palace of the Inquisition.

The Vóvedas stand out, the ammunition and supply warehouse of the Spanish, transformed into dungeons at the end of the 18th century, the convent and church of San Pedro, founded by the Jesuits in the 17th century; the church of Santo Domingo, the oldest in Cartagena de Indias, with the enormous Cristo de la Expiración inside that contrasts with one of the popular sculptures by Fernando Botero, located outside the temple.

It is advisable to walk through the Getsemaní neighborhood to discover what the authentic life of Cartagena is like and check the warmth and friendliness of its people who sing cumbias and vallenatos in the corners and doors of the houses.

 

SUNSETS AT CAFÉ DE MAR

The great sunset that is experienced in Cartagena de Indias must be enjoyed at the Café de Mar. The site that was chosen to begin the construction of the 14-kilometer wall of the historic center, a pharaonic work for its time, since it was extended for 150 years, and a World Heritage Site. Currently, this corner of the bastion of Santo Domingo is open every day of the year and its faithful fill it to taste its exotic cocktails and listen to house, chill out and electronic music under the moonlight.

 

THE LARGEST BASTION ON THE PLANET

The entire old town of Cartagena is itself a fortress, but outside the city there are more fortifications built at strategic points. The most important of all is the Fort of San Felipe de Barajas, the largest Spanish military building in the New World in all its colonies. Its construction began in 1536 and it was enlarged in 1657 on the hill of San Lázaro, from where any invasion attempt was controlled. Today it is worth getting lost in its complex of tunnels connected at strategic points to distribute supplies and, above all, to facilitate evacuation, although it was never necessary, as the fort was never conquered.

 

THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED FACADE

The most photographed facade in Cartagena on Curato street, in the San Diego neighborhood, is the Marzola restaurant. The owners of this restaurant with an Argentine grill installed lamps, mirrors, clocks, pictures, notices, proverbs and photographs of Pope Francis or soccer players Maradona and Messi, among other antique objects, and some chairs and tables embedded in the wall where it can read «We don’t have wifi, talk to each other.»

 

THE CARTAGENA OF GARCIA MARQUEZ

He expressed in his works the deep love that Gabriel García Márquez felt for Cartagena de Indias. His house and mausoleum are located here, in the central courtyard of the Claustro de la Merced, very close to the Teatro de la Heroica, where the ashes of the Nobel Prize for Literature are buried. Upon entering the cloister, on a floating platform there is a bust of Gabo.

 

LUXURY HISTORIC HOTELS

Santa Clara and San Teresa are evidenced as 2 luxury hotels. The former occupies the former Santa Clara de Asís convent, a colonial building from 1621 shrouded in mysteries. And it is in it that the fateful story of Del amor y otros demonios, by García Márquez, takes place. It is amazing to see how crypts, wells, confessionals, paintings, doors, hidden windows and ceramic objects have been preserved in some of its rooms, which are currently used for events, among which the presidential suite stands out, conceived and designed by Fernando Botero and his daughter Lina Botero.

Founded in the 17th century, the Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa rises above the old convent in honor of the Saint of Ávila, all adorned with antique pieces, as if it were a real museum. From its upper part, next to the pool, you can enjoy the best view of the old city while you taste a refreshing porozo juice, the coconut lemonade that was invented in this historic place.

 

THE MOST AMAZING VIEW

From the top of a hill, the convent of La Popa stands out with a wonderful view. A 16th century chapel with the image of the Virgen de la Candelaria, patron saint of the city, highly venerated by the people of Cartagena. Also noteworthy when entering the monastery is a Spanish patio with large columns that withstood the numerous enemy attacks suffered in the city.

 

THE BEAUTY OF THE ROSARIO ISLANDS

They attract by the beauty of their waters adding 30 islets and islands surrounded by coral reefs. The entire area was declared the Islas Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park and extends over some 120,000 hectares of underwater platform. The island of San Martín stands out, with a very popular aquarium that offers a show of dolphins and rays, sea turtles and tropical fish, while Barú, actually an arm of land that goes into the sea, has the best beaches and an area of mangroves and corals.

 

VERY PRACTICAL

From Madrid and Barcelona to Bogotá, with an approximate duration of 10 hours, and from the Colombian capital there are many daily frequencies to Cartagena de Indias. It is only necessary to travel with a valid passport, a visa is not necessary. Published by Cartagena Herald, a news and information agency.

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