Read the Top 5 Things to See in Cartagena Colombia from our Colombia insider Jennifer Salinas.
Cartagena is located on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It is a friendly and lively city with a beautiful historic downtown area. The laid back feel is similar to other Caribbean towns but the unique walled city offers many fascinating tourist attractions. Below is a list of the Top 5 Things to See in Cartagena Colombia.
1. Convento La Popa
Sitting at the highest point in Cartagena (150m-high hill) stands a convent that was founded in the 1600’s. The hilltop was once a special religious place that the indigenous people and African slaves went to worship a sacred goat. However, once the Spanish arrived they erected a monastery instead. Originally built as a small wooden chapel, it was later fortified. The La Virgen de la Candelaria or Virgin of the Candelaria is the patron saint for the city of Cartagena de Indias. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a magnificent view of the city, bay and mangroves.
2. Castillo San Felipa de Barajas
This massive fort located on the Hill of San Larazo was built by the Spanish in the 1600’s. It is strategically located with perfect views of the sea and land. Although Castillo means castle in Spanish, this is clearly a military fort built to protect the bay from pirates and other invaders. The labyrinth of tunnels and bunkers lead to the top where you can look down at the walled city of Cartagena. This is a must see destination in Cartagena Colombia.
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3. Old Shoes Monument
This is a very famous piece of art located almost at the foot of the Castillo. The Old Shoes Monument in Cartagena, is a reference to the poem “Mi Ciudad Nativa” by Luis Carlos Lopez. In the final line of the poem, Luis Carlos Lopez compares the love and comfort of his city to that which he gains from a pair of old shoes.
4. Historic Walled Downtown Cartagena
The walls surrounding the majority of the historic downtown Cartagena are the most extensive military fortification in South America. They were built to protect the city from pirates and other countries seeking to control the land, resources, and trade routes. For the most part the walls are still intact. Inside the walls lies a maze of narrow streets where you can easily wander for days and still get lost. The buildings are well preserved and bright with projecting balconies.
5. The Clock Tower
The Clock Tower building is an icon of Cartagena and lies at the entrance into the historic center. There are many places to visit in the historic center including the cathedral, gold museum, and the Palace of the Inquisition. At night you will see groups of young people dancing and drumming around the squares and women walking around offering you tropical foods. Cartagena has many excellent restaurants to choose from and a never ending supply of locals tempting you to buy their souvenirs – of course at the best price.
A visit to Cartagena should be on everyone’s list if you are traveling to Colombia. It’s romantic and historic atmosphere paired with friendly people make for the perfect destination. I recommend at least three days in order to fully see the city. This list of the top things to see in Cartagena Colombia only explores a small portion of all that Colombia has to offer.