The Walled City — San Felipe de Barajas Castle — Rosario Islands — La Boquilla — Las Bovedas — Palacio de la Inquisición — Convento de la Popa & Monastery — Cerro de la Popa
Cartagena is a city steeped in history and culture, with many attractions that draw tourists worldwide. From its stunning colonial architecture to its rich cultural heritage, this vibrant city has no shortage of things to see and do.
Cartagena's old town has been a national cultural heritage for over 50 years and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1984.
Once you step into this charming city, you'll feel as if you're walking through the pages of a vibrant history book. But, unlike other historic towns that have faded over time, Cartagena's walled city has been lovingly restored, preserving its splendor and grandeur for future generations.
The city of Cartagena is a treasure trove of delightful surprises, offering a wealth of exceptional dining experiences, unique attractions, and exciting things to do day and night. The plazas in Cartagena teem with life, horse-drawn carriages add to the atmosphere, and the city's historical landmarks, such as the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas and the Convento La Popa de la Galera, make for fascinating sightseeing adventures.
The Walled City
Cartagena's walled city (or Ciudad Amurallada) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is easy to see why. The walls and fortifications surrounding the old town were built during the 16th and 17th centuries when the city was a significant center of commerce and the main port for Spanish treasure fleets. The walls were constructed to protect the city from pirate attacks, and they are still largely intact, offering visitors a glimpse into Cartagena's past.
The Walled City is the heart of Cartagena's historic center and one of the most important tourist attractions in the city, home to many of the city's most beautiful colonial buildings, churches, and plazas. Explore the cobblestone streets and vibrant neighborhoods, take a guided tour, or soak up the atmosphere of this historic district.
San Felipe de Barajas Castle
The San Felipe de Barajas Castle is a massive fortification atop a hill overlooking the city. Built-in the 17th century to protect the city from pirate attacks, the castle is one of South America's most impressive military structures. You can explore the castle's tunnels and ramparts and take in breathtaking views of the city and the Caribbean Sea.
The fortress was named after King Philip IV of Spain and is considered one of the most remarkable military structures of the Spanish colonial era. The castle is a popular spot for photography. Entrance fees are reasonable, and guided tours are available.
The Rosario Islands, located off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, are a breathtaking paradise for those looking for a tropical getaway. The crystal-clear turquoise waters, pristine white-sand beaches, and vibrant coral reefs make this archipelago a top destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. The islands are also home to a national park and a diverse array of wildlife, including sea turtles and exotic fish.
The Rosario Islands are a group of 27 small islands. You can take a day trip to explore the islands or spend a few nights in one of the luxurious eco-lodges available for a more immersive experience. Whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, the Rosario Islands are a must-visit destination for any traveler to Cartagena.
La Boquilla is a small fishing village just a few miles from the city center. Take a boat tour of the mangrove swamps and lagoons, learn about traditional fishing techniques, and enjoy fresh seafood in one of the village's many restaurants.
Las Bovedas is a historic landmark in Cartagena, Colombia, built initially as a dungeon in the late 18th century. The structure comprises 23 vaults or "bovedas," which were used to house weapons, ammunition, and provisions for the city's defense. However, the building never actually served as a prison. Today, Las Bovedas has been converted into a popular artisan marketplace where visitors can find a variety of handicrafts, souvenirs, and local artwork. The vendors sell everything from colorful textiles and handwoven baskets to paintings, sculptures, and jewelry.
The arches and thick walls of Las Bovedas provide a unique backdrop for shopping, and visitors can take in views of the Caribbean Sea from the structure's upper level. The marketplace is located just outside the city walls in the historic district, making it a convenient stop for those exploring the area.
In addition to shopping, Las Bovedas also hosts cultural events and festivals throughout the year, including the annual Independence Day celebrations in November.
Palacio de la Inquisición
Palacio de la Inquisición is one of the most famous buildings in Cartagena and was built between 1770 and 1776. Then, it served as the headquarters for the Spanish Inquisition in Cartagena, where individuals were tried for heresy and witchcraft. Today, the palace is home to the Historical Museum of Cartagena, which showcases Cartagena's history, including its role as a slave trade hub.
The style of the palace, based on Spanish colonial architecture, is reminiscent of a dark and gruesome chapter of Spanish colonial history. A large and magnificent entrance portal adorns the entrance area. Wooden balconies decorate the facade. Inside the building were the prisons and torture chambers. The Spanish Inquisition ran at full speed in the building until Colombia gained independence from Spain. The Palacio de la Inquisición is located on the Plaza de Bolívar.
Convento de la Popa & Monastery
The Convento de la Popa is a 17th-century convent on a hill overlooking the city. The convent is one of the most important religious sites in Cartagena and is home to a beautiful chapel, gardens, and stunning views of the city, the harbor, and the Caribbean Sea.
The convent was founded in the 17th century by the Augustine Order and is dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, the patron saint of Cartagena. The "black maiden" protected the city from the plague and pirates. Tourists can tour the convent, the monastery, and its gardens and enjoy the breathtaking views of the city and the sea. The convent is accessible by taxi or by climbing the hill on foot. Entrance fees are reasonable, and guided tours are available. The convent is still home to a small community of monks, and visitors can explore the beautiful gardens and chapel.
Cerro de la Popa
Cerro de la Popa is a hill that rises above Cartagena and offers stunning views of the city and the sea. The hill is named after a resemblance to a bishop's miter, and its summit is home to the La Popa Monastery and the Convento de la Popa. Climb the hill on foot or take a taxi to enjoy the stunning panoramic views. The hill is also a popular spot for birdwatching, with over 70 species of birds inhabiting the area.
Cartagena, Colombia, is a beautiful city full of history and culture, with plenty of tourist attractions to explore. Whether you are interested in colonial architecture, religious sites, museums, or natural beauty, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.Read more: