Updated: Apr 15
Having spent that last few days sailing, it's time to check out our first port.
This city is seeped in history. It was the transit port for all the wealth Spain derived from South America, still visible in its famous Old City, an area of 12 square blocks filled with attractions, boutiques and restaurants.
Throughout Colombia, the Spanish Empire's influence in the New World is self-evident. Its fortress walls, quaint narrow streets, and balconied houses are all vivid reminders of Spain's hold on Cartagena and throughout the New World - this is the land of El Dorado, and flamboyant adventurers in search of the ever-elusive gold. Cartagena's well-constructed fortifications defended its borders against seafaring pirates whose attacks lasted for more than 200 years. Today this modern and bustling city, seaport, and commercial center still boasts much of its original colonial architecture. Your journey here will provide you with a significant link to the region's past.
You may encounter numerous local vendors at various tourist locations. They can be persistent in their sales offers. A simple "no thank you" may not be enough to stop their offers.
Las Murallas (pictured right)
Considered by many the most impressive city walls in the world, Las Murallas began construction after an attack by Sir Francis Drake at the end of the 16th century.
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Majestically standing guard on a hillside overlooking the city and harbor is Castillo de San Felipe, a fortress built by the Spanish for protection against pirates while shipping gold out to Europe.
Historical Museum of Cartagena
Behind a charming, colonial facade, the palace museum displays instruments of torture from the Spanish Inquisition, pre-Columbian, colonial and independence-era art.
Catedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandría
The cathedral is one of the largest in a series of fortresses with a massive exterior and simple interior. Partially demolished by Sir Francis Drake's cannons, it was completed in 1602.
Museo del Oro y Arqueología
Gold and pottery collections of the Tayrona, Calima and Sinú people are on display, as well as panel exhibitions about the Atlantic coast cultures.
La Popa Monastery
Built atop a hill, this 17th-century monastery features a chapel, a colonial museum and a spectacular view of the city, and remains inhabited by monks even today.
This presentation of music and dance takes place at the historic Heredia Theater. Five distinct dances from three important regions of Colombia are performed by a professional dance company, from the Atlantic Coast (Cumbia), the Pacific Coast (Currulao and Abosao), and the Los Andes region (the
Market Place and the Indian Legend).
MY TOP EXCURSION PICKS
1) Walking Tour
2) Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour
3) Private Car 1/2 Day Tour
4) Aromas and Flavours Tour
Take a private boat road where you will get to sample delicious coffee from the area.
The tour also includes a walking tour of the old city, as well as shopping.
There you have it! A day in Cartagena, Columbia. We depart at 3 pm. Why so early?
Because we have to spend the evening and night sailing to allow for perfect viewing of our next destination: the Panama Canal Historic Locks full transit!
See you tomorrow! (technically next Wednesday)
- Karen Cordes, CTC