The Walled City of Cartagena, I stayed here for two days last year. Even though the city isn’t very big, I enjoyed it during this period and found a lot of things to appreciate.
The port city of Cartagena is on the Caribbean coast. This city is also called the Walled City. There is a historical region behind it. The historic walled city of Cartagena has a big wall around it to keep people safe from attacks from the outside.
How big is the walled city in Cartagena?
Cartagena, The Walled City, is 11 kilometers long, the most reserved, and one of the best Walled cities in South America. It is a cultural symbol of Colombia that UNESCO declared a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1984.
Walled City of Cartagena history
It was built for the defense of Colombia, as I mentioned above, and built after the XVI century. King Philip III gave the order to start building it on September 8, 1614, after the attack of Sir Francis Drake. It took 15 years to complete the first stage and was led by Carlos de Roda Antonelli (Italian architect).
During this time, the Cartagena, Colombia, walled city was continuously attacked by pirates.
For that, they built another fort named San Felipe Castle. The construction of the old town of Cartagena was completed in 1796.
“The architect of Italian descent, Carlos de Roda Antonelli, was assigned as the one in charge of the first stage of construction. It took them 15 years to finish the initial part in which 15 bastions were erected with a clear influence of the Italian style,” historian German Bustamante explained to the Colombian magazine DONDE.
How old is the wall around Cartagena?
The historic Walled City Cartagena is a unique fort that will be 409 years old in 2023 called the “Heroic.” It protected Colombia from attack, and now the Walled city is a most attractive and historical place for tourists.
Things to Do in The Walled City Cartagena
Most impressive city view
The Walled City in Cartagena is a most beautiful city but a little bit small. While the tour may be finished in a few hours, I recommend taking your time so you can see as much of the city as possible.
I see some religious buildings there that are known for their rich histories.
You can see the city’s beauty from the Convent of Santa Cruz de la Popa. It is a religious place from 1607 at the city’s highest point.
You can see the Walled City of Cartagena’s beautiful streets, colorful homes, and Jewels of Spain’s colonies to enjoy your tour.
Getsemani is very close to the Walled city of Cartagena. It is a gorgeous location with a street and buildings with vibrant paintings, like Cartagena Old Walled City. Without visiting The beautiful place of Getsemani, your tour is incomplete.
Local people gather in the center of Getsemani, called Holy Trinity Square. They drink here and enjoy street music. The street is famous for colorful paintings ( this art is a trendy characteristic), local pubs, and Cafe Havana (a favorite club).
Tour of Cartagena’s old walled city
Take a Personal or private walking tour of the Walled City of Cartagena if you’re interested in learning more about its actual history. You can choose a free personal walking tour if you have a partner. Otherwise, the alternative is a private 3-hour walking trip with a guide. The guide shows you all the historical places of Cartagena, the walled city. Participating in this walking tour will significantly enhance your knowledge of the city’s history and culture tour.
Free walking tour: They give it for free but take payments based on your happiness (people donate willingly roughly $40.000 apiece)
Private tour: Ranging from $62 to $131 per person (depending on group member)
You can stop at the well-known Cafe del Mar on this walking tour. Here, you can have your favorite drink and watch the sunset while looking at a beautiful view.
Ceviche is the most famous food in the Walled city of Cartagena. It is a national dish of Cartagena. Ceviche is also renowned in South America and Asia.
Cartagena’s most popular ceviches are:
- Ceviche de Pulpo (Octopus ceviche)
- Ceviche de Camarones (shrimp ceviche)
- Ceviche de Pescado (fish ceviche)
This dish is found in any restaurant in the city, but I recommend La Cevicheria. The restaurant is also famous for seafood, specially Ceviche.
Other traditional foods are Pargo Frito (Fried snapper), azuela de mariscos (a coconut-based seafood stew), Arroz con coco (Coconut rice), Pan de Bono, Mondongo soup, etc.
Street food: One of the most popular snacks is arepa de huevo, a deep-fried arepa with an egg inside.
It goes well with a cool agua de coco (coconut water)
Palenquera picture (not for free)
When you go to Cartagena, the walled city, you’ll see them everywhere wearing colorful dresses and skillfully balancing tropical fruit trays on their heads. You can also see them as a logo of Colombia in every travel guide.
Most of them are underprivileged; if you want to snap their picture, kindly offer them some money so they can live a little more comfortably.
Las Bovedas souvenirs
Souvenir shops at Las Bovedas appear weird. In the beginning, it was used to protect troops from pirate attacks. Then it was used in prison.
Now, souvenir shops are set up in Las Bovedas. The shops are set up in each prison cell and sell different types of ‘classic’ Colombian gift items.
Traditional Colombian cloth and other items such as mochila, hammocks, magnets, and even tiny replicas of Botero’s sculptures are available here.
Discover the Inquisition Palace’s secrets
At the Palace of the Inquisition (Palacio de la Inquisición), one of the Spanish Inquisition’s torture centers, you can learn about Cartagena’s dark past. Inside the beautiful palace from the 18th century, the Spaniards killed people they thought threatened the Catholic Church.
The palace is now a museum where various tools of torture and some pre-Columbian relics are on display.
Some of the most stunning areas of the historic city include the square outside, which features a monument of Simon Bolivar, the architect of Colombia’s freedom from Spain, and the structure itself. However, once inside, you’ll find gloomy antiques from a troubling period in the city’s past.
The museum is situated across from the Palacio de la Inquisición Museum on Bolivar Plaza, in the center of the walled city.
The national bank of Colombia supports the Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) in Cartagena. It has examples of the gold work of Colombia’s indigenous people that have been kept in good condition.
The expert goldsmith makes these artifacts. There are also some ceramics on display, such as burial urns.
It exposed their culture, tradition, and their lifestyle. Also, you will find the history of the Spanish conquest in this museum. Most of the things on display were made by the Zen people, who lived in the coastal plains south of Cartagena.
Best Hotels in Cartagena Walled City
- Hotel casa san agustin
- Hotel boutique LM
- Bastion luxury hotel
- Sofitel legend santa clara Cartagena
- Casa pestagua relais chateaux
Best Restaurants in Walled city of Cartagena
- La Vitrola
- Marzola Parrilla Argentina