Cartagena [- xena], capital of the department Bolívar, Colombia, on the Caribbean coast, (2020) 914 600 residents.

Important commercial and main naval port in Colombia; University (founded 1827), Catholic archbishopric, several museums (including a museum of modern art, archaeological museum, shipping and naval museum); international Airport; major tourism; Main industrial area with its own port south of the city (oil refineries, chemical and petrochemical, food and textile industries).

Sights to visit

The colonial character of old Cartagena is still preserved. The first fortifications were built in response to looting by French and English pirates (1544, 1559 and 1586), most of them from the first half of the 17th century; the San Felipe de Barajas castle on the San Lázaro hill is the largest fortress on the South American continent (built 1656–57 under Governor Pedro Zapata de Mendoza; expanded from 1762–69 by the military engineer Antonio de Arévalo).

The entrance of the upstream Bocachica Canal is guarded on both sides by the horseshoe-shaped Fort San Fernando, Carex Island (1753–60, from Arévalo according to plans by Juan Bautista Mac-Evan), and its elongated counterpart San José, Barú Island (1751–52, by Ignacio Sala and Mac-Evan). Part of the fortified city wall are the more than twenty embedded ammunition vaults Las Bóvedas (1789–96), with a portico of 47 arches in neoclassical style (1798, by Arévalo), and the clock tower (Torre del Reloj; 1704, by Juan de Herrera) y Sotomayor; 1888 with a neo-Gothic closure) as the most important gate to the old town and today a landmark of Cartagena. The monastery complex La Compañía (also called San Pedro Claver) was built in the 17th century by Jesuits over a section of the city wall; the church (1695 to 1735; with a dome from 1921, by Gastón Lelarge) shows Mannerist and Baroque style elements. The Santo Domingo Monastery (1570 to 1612) has the oldest church in Cartagena (with fortress-like apse and Plateresque portal from around 1585). The three-aisled cathedral by Simón González (begun in 1575, partially destroyed in 1586, collapsed in 1600, rebuilt from 1602 to 1612; with a bell tower from the beginning of the 20th century, by Lelarge) has a gilded baroque high altar, as does the church of Santo Toribio (begun in the mid-17th century, completed 1730–36), with a wooden ceiling in Mudejar style. The monastery of La Popa (founded in 1607 by the Augustinians as Convento Nuestra Señora de La Candelaria on the hill of the same name) temporarily served as a fortress. The Palace of the Inquisition (after 1755 to 1770, with a baroque portal) now houses the historical museum; the former customs building (Edificio de la Aduana; 1620, by Cristóbal de Roda and Lucas Báez) is now the town hall.

The two-story palace of the slave trader Marqués de Valdehoyos from the 18th century with inner courtyards and open wooden balconies based on models from the Canary Islands is considered the best example of the numerous houses from the colonial era. In the 1980s and 1990s, wall paintings from the colonial era were discovered in several historical buildings (including depictions of ships in the Casa de los Barcos, 1708, by Miguel de Epamontes). The wooden bullring Serrezuela with Moorish elements by Manuel Calvo dates from the beginning of the 20th century.

The church of the Monastery of La Merced (begun in 1625) was redesigned in 1911-12 by Luis Felipe Jaspe as the Teatro Heredia in neoclassical style. The mansion district Manga is characterized by citizen palaces from the first decades of the 20th century (including Casa Vélez, 1930, by Miguel Arquer). The modern baseball stadium 11 de Noviembre (1947) with its horseshoe-shaped grandstand roof is regarded as an internationally trend-setting concrete structure. The Fort San Juan de Manzanillo (17th century; reinforced in the 18th century) was restored 1978-81 and by Rogelio Salmona converted to the guest house Casa de Huespedes Ilustres. The congress center was built on the site of the old market in 1978-82. The Bocagrande headland, with its modern high-rise hotels and offshore beaches, is the most important tourist center in northern South America. The harbor, fortifications and the monuments from the colonial era have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Visit for Colombia is a natural destination.


Cartagena, founded in 1533 by P. de Heredia (* 1504, † 1574), later often called “Cartagena de Indias” to distinguish it from the Spanish city of the same name, was one of the most important trading centers of the Spanish colonial empire and was heavily fortified to protect against pirate attacks.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia
Tagged on: