The monk Saint Pedro Claver lived and worked in Cartagena in the 17th century. He dedicated his life to help the slaves and saved a lot of them by giving them food and medical treatment. This popular man who has been called "the slave of the slaves" lived in this monastery and after his death he was buried in its church.
Entrance fees (Jan 2005):
Adult: 4,000 pesos (about $ 2.00 U.S.)
Children and Students: 3,000 pesos
With Guide: 7,000 pesos (additional)
With a bi-lingual Guide: 8,000 pesos (additional)
The most powerful bastion of Cartagena is the “Castillo de San Felipe”. It was designed by the Dutch engineer Ricardo Carr and constructed between 1657 and 1769. It has a system of tunnels for military purposes. As the fort is located on top of a hill next to downtown you’ll have a marvellous view over Cartagena from here.
Located right in the center of the city, this park is a favourite for both locals and tourists . It is named after General Simon Bolivar, who liberated the country in 1811 and is considered as a national hero.
Simon Bolivar was the most important leader for south American colonies during their struggle for independence. He was President of Colombia which at that time included also Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador and parts of Peru and Bolivia.
On the base of the Bolivar Statue are these words:
"Cartagenians: If Caracas gave me life, Cartagena gave me glory...". Simón Bolívar
This building is a relic of a very dark era. It was home of a tribunal of the Catholic Church where everyone they viewed as a heretic has been questioned and sentenced. The methods were quite brutal.
The palace contains instruments of torture as well as documents, paintings and explanations about the Inquisition. Outside, fronting Calle de la Inquisición, is the small, barred window from which the sentences were announced to the public.
Mon to Fri: 8:30 to 12 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
1,800 pesos - about 90¢ u.s.
The Gold Museum in Cartagena is not as big as the one in Bogota, but still have an impressive collection of gold and pottery. I think it is a must see if you visit the city.
The exhibitions are on two floors and show objects and tell about the life of the Sinu Indians, who lived in today’s departments of Bolivar, Cordoba and Sucre before the Spaniards came. There is a short film worth seeing (and you can chose English as the language) about the Sinu Indians and how they in the best way used the river water for cultivation.
The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays and the other days it is closed for lunch.
Entrance is free.
During colonial times Cartagena had an infamous reputation as a center for the slave trade. Since the Spanish King had forbidden to enslave the native population of the colony, thousands of black slaves have been shipped from Africa and were branded and sold in this place. And those were the luckier ones, because a lot of them died during the transport.
The place got its name „Plaza de los Coches“ (Coach Square) because this has been the spot where horse drawn coaches had waited for customers. And even today you can find these vehicles that serve nowadays as a tourist attraction.
The four-sided clock was added to this gate in 1888 and it was after that it got the present name. The gate was built in the beginning of the 18th century and was then called Bridge Gate (Boca del Puente). It was the main gate to use when entering the inner walled town, and it was linked to Getsemani by a bridge.
Today there are several booksellers under the arches and some of them also have second-hand books in English, but I didn’t find a book I wanted to read at the moment (there were mostly old best sellers).
The construction of this impressive cathedral began in 1575 and completion was planned for 1585. In 1586, when only the tower remained unfinished, the cathedral had been partially destroyed by the british pirate Francis Drake who attacked the city.
These arcades once housed the Customs House. All businessmen visiting and leaving through the gate had to pay taxes here. So it's not surprising that Cartagena was a rich city .
The Customs Plaza in front of the Customs House is one of the largest and prettiest squares in Cartagena. In the middle of the square you’ll find the Statue of Christopher Colombus that has been erected in 1892.
Santo Domingo Church is situated on the western side of the square with the same name, Plaza Santo Domingo. It is the oldest church in town and it was founded in 1580. Once it was part of a Dominican convent.
The façade has got a nice orange/yellow colour that makes it look very beautiful against the blue sky.
The church is open in the early evening for service and in some days and at special hours you can go for a guided tour in the church. For the tours you can ask at the office next door.
The fortified wall of Cartagena is in excellent condition and stretches more-or-less unbroken round a good portion of the Old Town - although there are sections that don't appear to be accessible to the public. Walking along the wall is actually a good way to get away from the crowds, because hardly anyone who lives here seems to go up onto it. From where I took this photo, near the Naval Museum at the south end of town, you can actually walk all the way up to the Hotel Santa Clara on the north side of town without stepping off the wall. An occasional small tunnel leads through the wall, allowing pedestrian and vehicle access from the highway that runs along the coast.
Like most Colombian cities Cartagena has got a Plaza Bolívar, or it is actually a small park. The park is situated in the old town and it is surrounded by some beautiful colonial buildings, one of them is housing the Gold Museum and one is housing the Museum of Inquisition and History.
In the middle of the park is a statue of Simón Bolívar, the liberator who defeated the Spaniards and won independence to parts of South America.
The park is a nice and calm place to sit in and watch people. Bring your take away food or by a fruit salad from the ladies outside the park or a coffee from the salesmen walking around. In the evening there is a performance by a dance and music group.
The Navy Museum exhibits models of ancient ships, Cartagena forts and historic information about the Colombian Navy. If you are interested in boats, history and pirate stuff this Museum is your place.
Adults: 3.000 pesos
Children: 1.000 pesos
If you are standing on the walls around the old town you will see the large bright dome of the Church of San Pedro Claver. But if you are standing at the small square in front of the church you can’t see the dome and it looks like there is another church you have in front of you. The façade facing the square is a very beautiful stone façade.
A church was first constructed here in 1580, then reconstructed by the Jesuits during the 17th century. In the first half of the 18th century the church was completed.
The church has got its name from the Jesuit monk San Pedro Claver who’s remains are kept in a glass coffin under the altar.
Iglesia de San Pedro Claver is open between 6.45 - 7.15 in the mornings Monday - Saturday and between 10 - 19 on Sundays.
Plaza de la Aduana is perhaps the city's nicest and surprisingly not one of the more crowded areas despite its fine collection of restored colonial buildings and a stunning statue of Christopher Columbus. The statue is interesting not only in its simple beauty but for the depiction of Columbus conquering of The Americas with him standing over and subjugating a native woman. Also on the plaza is the former Royal Customs House is now City Hall but perhaps more stunning are the row of fine balconied buildings that act as Columbus' backdrop when the sun comes over the walls of the city in the early morning when the square is devoid of people. One of the best photo opportunities in a town full of them.