A view of a street in Cartagena, Colombia.
Photo by: silkebaron , Creative Commons

Ever since it was founded in 1533, the Cartagena de Indias or simply referred to as Cartagena has been an important Caribbean port. Often filled with bright, vivid colors and hot, sultry music that accompanies the daily hustle and bustle, it once served as the passageway of gold and silver bound for Europe. Later on, a walled fort was built to protect the city and the shipping trade from looting pirates. Today, it is a favorite tourist destination in Cartagena, Colombia, drawing interest from people all over the world who want to enjoy the city’s rich colonial past and its successful foray into the modern world.

The lure of Cartagena, Colombia is no doubt its Old World charm. The walled city, known as the Ciudad Amarullada, with its tiled roofs, sprawling Spanish balconies, and garden courtyards are enough to send visitors into a stroll along the narrow streets. There is no other city in all of Colombia that can match the beautiful colonial atmosphere that Cartagena proudly still carries. It has been compared to the famed Barrio de Santa Cruz of Sevilla, Spain; Potosi, Bolivia; and Guanajuato, Mexico.

Once in the city, tourists will find the Casa de Marques Valdehoyos a good place to start their explorations. This majestic house, located on Calle Factoria, exemplifies old Cartagena and offers maps to the city. Speaking of majestic houses, the sacred Cartagena’s Cathedral, with its massive exteriors, has survived four centuries – and Sir Francis Drake’s cannons. For more historical education, the Museo de Oro y Arqueloguia, which stands proudly on Plaza Bolivar, provides a notable collection of gold as well as pottery from the world-renowned Sinu culture. Meanwhile, instruments of torture used during the time of the Spanish Inquisition and before and after the Colombian Republic are displayed at the Palacio de la Inquisicion, which by the way remains a fine example of colonial architecture. Another sacred house is the Convento de la Popa, which overlooks the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas and is filled with beautiful flowers, offers a breathtaking view of the city, especially come dusk.

Those who are up for more adventure can find comfort in Parque Nacional Tayrona, a scenic spot composed of white-sand beaches, coral reefs, jungle slopes, and its main attraction – the world’s highest coastal range consisting of steep peaks. This park is very popular with hikers, trekkers, and campers. Newer areas of Cartagena, Columbia, namely El Laguito and Bocagrande, face the Caribbean and are considered the city’s fashionable hotspot of upscale hotels, restaurants, and shops. Here, there is a worthy nightlife that offers dancing until dawn.

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