If there were a city that was a work of art Cartegena, Colombia would be one of them. This early colonial city of the Americas is so colourful it will delight you at every corner.
Cartagena was one of the first cities founded in the Americas and therefore has many old buildings. During it’s building stage it was attacked many times by French and English pirates and privateers seeking a large booty from the wealth it contained. The archecticture from the colonial period really stands out and the area of the old town is full of old buildings. Add to this the vibrant colours that the inhabitants of this Caribbeancity like to paint the houses, which you can imagine yourself in a time gone by.
As with any city with this type of charm, the best thing to do is put your map in your back pocket and just wander where the colours drag you. Orientation in Colombia is a relatively easy thing. Streets are formed in a grid pattern and the streets called ‘calles’ and crossed by avenues ‘carrera’ and numbers follow in consecutive order on most occassions.
The major attractions to the city are the ramparts that were built to keep out the pirates (and to no avail), the castle San Felipe de Barajas which can be seen sitting above the city, the statue of the indian woman ‘Catalina’ , and the ‘Palace of the Inquisition’. Because of the history it contains, Cartagena has become a world heritage city.
Due it’s great tropical climate and beaches Cartagena is also a place where you can relax. In Bocagrande where most hotels are situated, many of the hotels with beach frontage also have a bar on the beach. The Decameron Hotel is a chain of hotels that have all inclusive meals and drinks, and for those who want to relax by the beach, the beach bar will also serve you drinks for free. These hotels are a good way to cut down your travelling costs while in Cartagena.
Also by the beach, if you feel like a surf there is often a small wave by the side of the rivermouth which locals surfers like to surf. Due to the rivers promimity the water in this area is not clear but is definitely not polluted. For crystal clear Caribbean water there are tours and or hotels to the “isla Baru” or “isla Rosario‘ where you can find this typical Caribbean water.
The locals to the area called ‘Costeños’ are mostly are mixture of negros and Spanish blood (also a slight mix of the native Indians), are reasonably friendly, and will often greet you with “Hello my fren”. A well known cultural sight are the local women called Negras Palanqueras which dress in colourful dresses and walk around the beach and the old town with bowls of fruit on their head for sale to the tourist.
Like most world heritage sites Cartagena has featured in movies such as ‘Love in the Time of Cholera” featuring Javer Bardem.