Cartagena is an intriguing and inspiring destination. It holds traditional Colombian charm alongside modern world-class sophistication. It offers everything to everyone, from the exciting to the romantic; whatever your desires, Cartagena can be sure to fulfil them. Below is a brief insight into some of the most popular areas of the city waiting to be explored!.
If arriving to Cartagena by air, you will arrive at ‘Rafael Núñez’ International Airport which is located in the 'Crespo' Neighborhoods. This area is a short drive from ‘Downtown‘ and the modern area of the city. North of the airport is a prosperous business development area and is also home to a number of reputable educational institutions.
(Big Mouth), this is the modern area of the city and the most popular with those tourists who enjoy modern hotels and amenities. The area is situated between Cartagena Bay in the east and the Caribbean Sea in the west. It stands largely on reclaimed land and was originally developed for foreign workers in the oil trade. Today, Bocagrande is home to many impressive high-rise buildings and world-class hotels. The principal street in this area is ‘San Martin Avenue’ where there's a myriad of high-class shops, bars and restaurants making this a great place to spend both your days and evenings. On the peninsular of Bocagrande, there is a fabulous walk along the bay with some spectacular views across the Caribbean Sea and an impressive statue of the Virgin Mary.
This area is the historic heart of Cartagena and has endless intriguing places of interest. It is in the walled area of the city where a number of fascinating styles of architecture, from Colonial to Republican and Italian, stand proudly side by side. The main entrance to the Downtown area is via the Clock Gate which leads into Carriage Square and the nearby Customs Square. In close proximity is the pretty San Pedro Claver Square, in which stands a church by the same name and also a museum; both of which are worthy of a visit. Within the walled area there is also Bolivar's Square, arguably the most famous of the city's squares due to its best preserved examples of Colonial architecture. The ancient overhanging balconies of the street lined cafes make this the perfect place to rest for coffee and pastries during the day, or to wine and dine in the warm, sultry evenings. Also in this area are the Office of Historical Archives, the Government Palace and the magnificent Cathedral of Cartagena which was constructed in the 16th century. A short walk from the downtown area is an impressive fortress built by the Spanish in 1639 then later extended in 1762. An extensive underground tunnel system was used within the fortress, and part of this original system is open to the public.
A Neighborhoods of great historical significance as it was the area in which African slaves who were brought to Cartagena, settled. In 1911, in commemoration of the centenary of the date of independence (November 11th 1811), Centenary Park was built in the heart of the Neighborhoods. In this area there is also the Third Order Church, San Francisco Cloister and Cartagena's Convention Centre.
The original San Diego convent gave its name to this area; a beautiful building that is now the Beaux Arts School Building. Nearby is the last church that was built within the walled area of the city; the church of Santo Toribio. Here there is also Fernández de Madrid Square, named after Cartagena's hero and whose statue proudly dominates the square. In this area are the famous ‘Bóvedas’ dungeons that form part of the walls of the Santa Catalina Fortress. These were originally built for military purposes but today house gift shops and boutiques.