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Colombia: Cartagena

Published: 13.2.2017
It has been a UNESCO area since 1984 Its historical center with paved sidewalks, flowers on balcons, colonial, republican or modern buildings - this all is hidden behind 11 kilometers of preserved ramparts built by the Spaniards.


Cartagena is the largest port and the most important industrial hub in Colombia. It is a large city with vast suburbs and home to over million people. This is a large city founded by Pedro de Heredia in 1533. After that, it became the main Spanish port in the Caribbean Sea. Treasures taken from the natives were stored there so it became a place sought after by pirates. And it was even under siege for five times in the 16th century. Therefore, the Spaniards created an unconquerable port of Cartagena and built thick ramparts. No wonder than that the largest fortress the Spaniards had ever built in their colonies is right here, in Cartagena.

pevnost Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

Její název je Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Je to složitý systém komunikací a únikových cest. Pevnost byla postavena v roce 1536 a do roku 1657 rozšiřována podle potřeby. Po asi dvou hodinách ji opouštíme a jdeme si projít historické centrum. Při procházce dlážděnými ulicemi je stále co fotit. V místě dnešní Puerta del Reloj stála dříve hlavní brána do vnitřního města. Hodiny na ní pocházejí ze Švýcarska. Za bránou se nachází náměstí Plaza de los Coches se sochou zakladatele města – Pedra de Heredii. Toto náměstí dříve sloužilo jako tržiště pro obchod s otroky. Největší náměstí v Cartageně se jmenuje Plaza de la Aduana a sloužilo k přehlídkám, na počest tu stojí socha Kryštofa Kolumba. Okolo náměstí byly za vlády Španělů postaveny administrativní budovy. Nachází se zde i budova, kde žil zakladatel města.

vstupní brána Puerta del Reloj

náměstí Plaza de los Coches   náměstí Plaza de la Aduana

The church and the cloister of San Pedro Claver were both built in the early-17th Catedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandríacentury by the Jsuits. Its name honors missionary San Pedro
Iglesia de San Pedro Claver Clavero who fought against slavery. His bodily remains rest in an urn inside the main altar. 

Catedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandría is the residence of the archbishop of Cartagena. Its construction began in 1575. However, the tower was partly damaged by the pirate Francis Drake in 1586. The renovation works took place between the years 1598 and 1612. A dome and marble facade were added. The entire old town is surrounded by thick ramparts - Las Murallas - to protect this part of the city. Their construction began in the late-16th. century and ended two centuries later.

To fully enjoy atmosphere of this colonial city, we don't need to visit museums. It is enough to simply walk in historic center and enjoy all the colorful streets, historical buildings and their balcons decorated with flower beds. On Plaza de Bolivar there are dance groups which entertain passers-by. Everything comes alive at night here. As there are so many tourists, stores, and restaurants, worry not about taking a walk in dark. Some buildings are lit with amazing illumination. Also, we think we should try some street food so we buy an arepa. It is a round type of meal fried or baked. It can also be sweetened. Aperas are prepared differently in different regions. Our first one we ever tasted was in Cartagena and it was cheesy. Well, we were not impressed.

noční město

Cartagena at night is very noisy. Horse-drawn carriages ride in the city centre all night and operate as taxi for tourists. And everyone seems to be shouting. Well, the center of Cartagena is not a place to have a good-night sleep. Add mosquitos biting you all night long and you get idea of how nights look like there. At five in the morning we are having high hopes of noise getting calmer. But local vendors start to opening their sstands and they shout at each other across the street. 

Cartagena is a beautiful city but it is quite noisy for our taste. Two days and two nights are just enough to move on again. Now we travel north to the resort of Santa Marta.

GPS: 10°25'32.2"N 75°32'51.6"W


Text and photos: Tomáš Novák


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