Sights in Cartagena

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Castillo de San felipe

Castillo de San felipe

Sergio David Gonzalez Cely

From idyllic palm-fringed beaches and nature reserves to handsome colonial architecture, Cartagena sights certainly catch the eye. This unique Colombian city is increasingly becoming known as one of the must-see destinations in South America, and it is already Colombia's number one destination for tourism. And it isn't hard to see what brings tourists flocking to this most fascinating of cities. Take a boat trip out to see some picture-perfect tropical islands, indulge your inner nature lover on a wildlife-spotting jaunt or just stroll around the magnificent public squares and marvel at the colorful architecture. Just don't attempt to do anything in too much of a hurry - the beating sun and intense heat require a relaxed pace.

Sightseeing in the Historic Center

Cartagena is famous, above all else, for its fine colonial architecture, which is considered to be among the best-preserved in the Americas. Take a trip to the walled historic center of the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Simply wandering the cobbled streets and taking in the atmosphere is a pleasant way to spend a day, but don't miss the opportunity to visit the city's many attractive churches, such as the 18th-century Iglesia Del Santo Toribio which has a stunning carved ceiling. Cartagena's cathedral, by the Plaza de Bolivar, is also well worth a visit. There are some interesting museums in the historic center, too, such as the Palacio de la Inquiscion, which tells the story of the Spanish Inqusition - complete with replica torture chamber.

Beaches and Wildlife

The beaches of Cartagena city itself are not the most stunning in South America, but those that dot the surrounding Caribbean Coast are as real examples of tropical beaches at their best. Soft white sands, swaying palm trees and crystal clear waters wash the Rosario archipelago, which is found within the confines of the beautiful Corales del Rosario National Park. The park, which lies some 50 km from Cartagena itself, teems with tropical flora and fauna, and the waters are awash with vibrantly colored tropical marine life. The lakes of Rosario and Tesoro attract colorful birds of all shapes and sizes, making for some excellent photo opportunities. Meanwhile, the San Martin de Pajarales Aquarium, also within the National Park is a great place to get up close and personal with some of the more weird and wonderful inhabitants of the Caribbean sea. The volcanic mud baths at Volcan del Toturno also provide a feast for the eyes as well as the other senses - a mud bath will cost just a couple of dollars, U.S.; a mud massage around $6 U.S..


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San Felipe de Barajas

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Outside the walls is the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas a fortress that survived attacks by pirates and other adventurers following in Drake’s footsteps. Note the statue of Blas de Lezo the one-armed one-legged one-eyed hero of Cartagena’s successful defense against the British Admiral Vernon in 1741.

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Castillo de San Felipe

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Castillo de San felipe
Castillo de San felipe
photo by: Sergio David Gonzalez Cely

The historic Spanish Fortress "Castillo de San Felipe De Barajas," majestically stands guard on a hillside overlooking the city and harbor.

In Cartagena there are a handful of impressive Spanish forts, including the 17th-century Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, undoubtedly the greatest and strongest fortress ever built by the Spaniards in their colonies.

Cartagena was founded in 1533 by Spanish Conquistador Explorers led by Pedro de Heredia. Within months of their landing, they had decimated and enslaved the indigenous native Calamari tribe of Indians and became more..

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Museo del Oro.

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Convento de la Popa

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Convento de la Popa
Convento de la Popa
photo by: Szorcsik

The Convento de la Popa is a 400-year-old monastery built on the foundations of a razed Indian temple. The monastery which sits on a 500-ft/150-m hill contains a statue of the Virgin of Candelaria who is credited with delivering the city from the ravages of disease and pirates. On 2 February candle-bearing processions wind their way to the monastery to honor the Virgin’s feast day. A more musical festival takes place in early March when Caribbean musicians gather in the city for the Caribbean Music Festival.

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San Fernando

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Other sights include the fortress San Fernando guarding the approaches to Cartagena Bay; San Sebastian de Pastelillo one of the oldest fortresses;

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Bodegon de la Candelaria

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