The beaches in Cartagena are crowded and dirty. A nice way to spend the day is to hire a motor boat, or share it with a friend, and go to Playa Blanca. The beach is located on the Isla de Baru. This is one of the larger islands in the Rosario Islands. The beaches were nice with great white sand. There were still a few vendors but if you said firmly no, they would go away. There are a lot of folks that go to the islands, including this one for diving, but I am not a diver.
Be sure if you go to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and other clothes to get out of the sun. The heat can be brutal
Centrally located and easily accessible Plaza Bolivar is just a really nice way to relax or see the sights around the plaza. Around the plaza is the cathedral, the government palace, inquisition palace, gold museum, Bank of the Republic, and the historical archives building. In the center of the plaza is a statue of Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America. Go close up and you will see an interesting inscription on the statue, it states, " if Caracas gave me the life, Cartagena granted me the glory? No clue what that means exactly.
What makes the plaza particularly pleasing is the low scale and colorful buildings that front onto the square. In addition, the shade trees make it a great place to relax and get out of the hot sun, have a meal or just people watch. There are also a lot of vendors moving around the square selling everything from fruit to jewelry. Except for the cathedral they are all at minimal scale of height which makes the plaza even nicer to stroll or people watch.
Wish I had more pictures!
Walking within the walled city is a visually sensual experience. Bright pastels and other colors adorn the homes and flower boxes of homes. Street art and those posing for photographs are seen in many areas. The best times to see all of this is before the majority of tourists come out for the day either right after sunrise or right before sunset.
This simple yet impressive cathedral is a testimony to Saint Peter Claver who was a catholic priest who was among the first priests in South America to baptize negro slaves. He is often referred to as the slave to the slave because of his acts of teaching catecism, teaching and tending to the sick where they lived.
The church was constructed in the early 17th century by a member of a religious order to serve as testimony to Claver's work with the slaves. There is also an impressive cloister and courtyard. The fee to enter the church I recall was nominal. If you go do not forget to visit the courtyard.
Perched on the hill of San Lazaro, with a commanding view of the city, Castillo De San Felipe is a must. The fort was started in 1537 and there were two major additions in the next two centuries. The fort itself is built in a triangular pattern to have different views of how to protect the city.
The views of the castle from down below are not particularly impressive. However you when you reach the top you can see some of the beauty of its construction. There are litterally a smorgasboard of tunnels shaped like a labyrinth that honeycomb their way through the castle. Taking a tour I learned that the angles of the tunnels were constructed to make it more difficult for pirates to gain control over where they were going. Many of the tunnels are nearly pitch black whereas some of them were lighted.
From the top of the castle you have some commanding views of downtown and the Caribbean sea. You understand immediately why the castle was built where it was and how effective it must have been as a fort in protecting the City.
San Pedro Claver church was founded by the Jesuits in the early part of the 17th century. The church was originally named San Ignacio de Loyola (founder of the Jesuits) and was later renamed San Pedro Claver after the Spanish born monk who spent all his life helping the slaves from Africa. You can take the tour with an English speaking guide who are on standby at the ticket office. You will see the room where he lived and died and also visit the church where they first kept his remains but later had to move them because of the many people who surrounded his coffin, it was too dangerous so they had to move his remains to the church. It is said that when he gave confession he kept a bottle of wine and offered a glass to the slaves. You will also visit the museum which has a lot of religious art and a beautiful open air garden with fruit trees. I did this tour with one of the Jesuits and l must say it was very interesting. Expect to pay 6 dollars for the tour per person.
One of the many beautiful church's in Cartagena. This church takes it name from Pedro Claver a spanish born monk who spent his life helping black slaves. Inside the church you will see beautiful stained glass windows and an imposing alter made from Italian marble. The remains of San Pedro Claver are kept inside a glass coffin on the alter. The church was completed around the 18th century and has a very imposing stone facade door at the entrance. Mass is held here several times a day.
Everyone should try to go to a game when the Colombian national team is playing. The atmosphere is incredible and it is a hell of a lot of fun. I went to 2 games and had the pleasure of watching one from VIP and the other from the field. Its a must do even if you dont like sports
Old convent that has been converted to an upscale hotel in Downtown. Go when the sun is setting or at night and sit in the patio and have a Havanna(cuban rum) and patacones (totones). Then go inside and see the exotic flower arrangement. This was a frequent place that I visited
Located in Colombia, South America, at shore from Caribbean Sea.
Cartagena de Indies enjoys a strategic location, ideal for the tourist, industrial and commercial development.