CARTAGENA, A TOUR THROUGH TIME
Perhaps best recognized for its incredibly preserved architecture, houses and fortresses alike stand tall and proudly against the hot Caribbean sun that has shone down on them for centuries. These buildings have seen it all: from piracy to the slave trade to battles and more. They have resisted the winds of time and witnessed the cruelty of humanity as much as the thriving, soulful thrum of a culture which turned its eventful past into a successful tourism industry. Cartagena deservingly remains in the spotlight today as one of South America’s best-preserved cities and the place where Spain defeated Britain to retain its territory.
Amongst all the scenery there are countless opportunities to learn. This is the city that made Nobel Prize in Literature winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez dream. Walk the streets and see what inspired his vision for a literary genre he helped found. Visit the Castle of San Felipe (really a fortress), where you tour through underground tunnels and walk the corridors as you explore the expansive site and learn about the various encounters which occurred there. Explore the Palace of the Inquisition, a historical museum based in the old Inquisition Office, which has an informative display of the instruments used by inquisitors. Follow the wall that has protected the city for centuries as you contemplate the striking sunset over the sea.
For shopping and sightseeing go to Las Bóvedas (“the vaults”), now a marketplace featuring antiques, handicrafts, and souvenir shops which used to be a dungeon in the 18th century- what an experience! For people-watching, Plaza Santo Domingo is full of vendors, restaurants, and bars. While you’re within the walled city, be sure to check out the boutique shops because every famous Colombian designer has one here! Outside the walled city, the most authentic shopping experience you’ll find is in Mercado Bazurto (Bazurto Market), an open-air street market full of fish and fresh produce. Mingle with the locals and try fruits you’ve never seen before. It will test your limits as your senses are pushed to their max, trying to absorb all the information of this thrilling, gritty reality.
Beside the incredible quantity of history and culture, you should definitely check out the local beaches! Attractive and filled with white sand and clear turquoise waters, the best beaches are found in Rosario Islands, 45 minutes by boat from the main city. Here you can find the San Martin Aquarium, an open-air attraction set in the ocean itself that shows off a wide variety of the local species and includes dolphins, manta rays, turtles, and sharks. Rosario Islands are in a protected national park and have plenty of snorkelling opportunities for those who would like to explore the coral reefs.
Fine liquor lovers will find themselves enthralled with a rum and chocolate tasting tour, featuring an assortment of Colombian produced rum, paired with local chocolate. Those who prefer the non-alcoholic version can opt for a chocolate-tasting tour, set in the chocolate museum in the historic centre of Cartagena. Learn the history and processes of chocolate making and even try making your own!
Finally, Cartagena offers you some of the best gourmet dining options around. Take your pick of cuisine and indulge your senses as you relish the exquisite flavors from around the world. Top it all off with a night out on the town: this seaside city presents several top-notch locations for a spectacular evening. Dance the night away at a salsa club and feel the rhythm of the Caribbean.
Cartagena has thousands of places to discover, but I want to highlight some that you should definitely visit in your way through this beautiful city.
Castillo de San Felipe:
built at the time of the conquest, on top of a hill. From there they could distinguish the enemy both on land and in the bay. It had four checkpoints and eight cannons, considered one of the wonders of Colombia. From above you can take great photos, learn how the communication from the tunnels that the castle has was and learn a bit of history.
Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower):
The photo that cannot be missing in your gallery, to say it in some way, is the entrance door, to the walled city. There you can see reflected part of the colonial architecture.
Cerro de la Popa:
Do you want to get the most spectacular panoramic view of Cartagena? Well you must visit this place, from there you can appreciate the walled center, the sector of Boca Grande, the sea in its entire splendor and if you have good view you can even see an island called Tierra Bomba. At the top, you will be able to visit a beautiful convent colony and a church. This place is located approximately 12 minutes from the historic center.
Visit the Café del Mar:
A simply wonderful place, located on the wall of the historic center. This cafe is the accomplice of beautiful moments contemplating the most spectacular sunsets, accompanied by a good beer, music and a colorful sea dish.
is one of the most visited places in Cartagena, declared a World Heritage Site because it is a place of great historical and cultural importance. You can walk through its colorful streets, visit its churches, taste its cuisine, take a tour through the area by horse carriage while listening to stories of the city and why not join the typical dances that steal sighs in these narrow streets.
In a place like Cartagena that receives millions of tourists a year, reason for which food plays a very important role. Many of the foreigners that come to visit, decide to settle in this place and this makes it much more interesting, since it lends itself so that the gastronomy has a fusion between the local food based on seafood and a great variety of international dishes. Within its gastronomy, rice with coconut and egg arepa stand out.
Our recommended restaurants are:
– La Maria See Location
– La Cocina de Pepina (Pepina’s Kitchen) See Location
– Erre de Ramon de Freixa See Location
– La Mulata See Location
The most visited beaches are those of Baru and Rosario Islands, where you can enjoy water sports, an afternoon of sun while you enjoy a refreshing cocktail, immerse yourself in its turquoise blue waters and appreciate the great variety of sea life that lies there.
Another very exotic, tourist activity is the Totumo Volcano, located approximately 40 km from Cartagena. It is a very popular attraction. To reach its crater you must climb rustic wooden stairs. At the top, you can enjoy a very pleasant experience inside the mud, which has a warm and thick consistency that makes it impossible for you to sink into it. You can take advantage of this, massage yourself, and make facial masks, since they attribute healing properties. The visit to this volcano is a fun plan to go with family or friends. It is important that you wear swimsuit and non-slip shoes. Then carefully descend and head to a nearby swamp to wash and continue enjoying your vacation.
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