Destination guide: Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

Located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Cartagena de Indias is famous for the beauty of its beaches and its walled city, full of history and location for many important events. In its center, you can still see the colonial influence, especially in the architecture.

In Cartagena de Indias, tourists can also stroll through the San Felipe and Bocagrande castles, visit the walled city, the Botanic Gardens and the Totumo volcano, as well as beginning a trip down the Dique Canal to the islands of Rosario, Baru and Palma.

Fly to Cartagena de Indias and discover one of the most well-preserved destinations in South America.

  • Cartagena de Indias - Things to do

    Sights

    Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

    The castillo is the greatest and strongest fortress ever built by the Spaniards in any of their colonies. The original fort was commissioned in 1630 and was quite small. Construction began in 1657 on top of the 40m-high San Lázaro hill. In 1762, an extensive enlargement was undertaken, which resulted in the entire hill being covered over with this powerful bastion. It was truly impregnable and was never taken, despite numerous attempts to storm it.

     Latitude: 10.4226929378222 / Longitude: -75.5389451980591
    Sub-Type:
    Castle
    Telephone Number: +57 5 666 4790
    Opening Hours: 8am-6pm
    Pricing: adult/child COP$13,000/7000
    Address: Av Arévalo
    Transportation Type: bus / Details: from Parque del Centenario

    Catedral

    Cartagena's Catedral was begun in 1575, but in 1586, while still under construction, it was partially destroyed by the cannons of Francis Drake, and not completed until 1612. Considerable alterations were made between 1912 and 1923 by the first archbishop of Cartagena, who covered the church with stucco and painted it to look like marble. He also commissioned the dome on the tower. Recent restoration has uncovered the lovely limestone on the building's exterior. Apart from the tower's top, the church has basically preserved its original form. It has a fortlike appearance and a simply decorated interior with three naves and semicircular archways supported on high stone columns. The main retable, worked in gold leaf, dates from the 18th century

    Latitude: 10.4235792885296 / Longitude: -75.5505001544952
    Sub-Type
    : Religious, Spiritual
    Address: El Centro

    Old Town

    Without doubt, Cartagena's old city is its principal attraction, particularly the inner walled town, consisting of the historical districts of El Centro and San Diego. It is a real gem of colonial architecture, packed with churches, monasteries, plazas, palaces and mansions with their overhanging balconies and shady patios.

    The old town is surrounded by Las Murallas, the thick walls built to protect it against enemies. Construction began towards the end of the 16th century, after the attack by Francis Drake; until that time Cartagena was almost completely unprotected. The project took two centuries to complete due to repeated damage from both storms and pirate attacks. Only in 1796 was it finally finished, just 25 years before the Spaniards were eventually expelled. Las Murallas are an outstanding piece of military engineering preserved in remarkably good shape, except for a part of the walls facing La Matuna, which were unfortunately demolished by 'progressive' city authorities in the mid-20th century. The best approach to experiencing the Old Town is to wander leisurely, savoring the architectural details, street life and local snacks along the way. Don't just seek out the main sights - there are many interesting places which you will find while walking around.