Cartagena was founded in 1533 by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Heredia. Before colonisation by the Spanish, the town was inhabited by warlike Caribe Indians, and to protect it from pirates and buccaneers, the largest fortification in the Americas was built around it.
• Take in the sensational views from the hilltop Popa Church
• Meander the vibrant & colourful streets of this UNESCO gem
• Soak up the literary atmosphere at the Hay Festival’s sister event
• Head out to the Rosarios Islands for a day’s snorkelling
• Explore the tunnels & passageways of the mighty San Felipe fortress
Cartagena was then the first province to gain independence in 1811 and today it is an extremely well preserved city, with wonderful architecture including beautiful churches, the old fort and richly decorated and colourful buildings. Wandering through Cartagena’s cobblestone streets is like taking a step back in history as it holds memories of slavery, pirate assaults and the workings of the Spanish Inquisition. The cultural wealth resulting from the mix of races, the architectural beauty, the sea and the Caribbean climate make Cartagena an essential stop in any visit to Colombia.
Cartagena is also the starting point for a visit to the Rosarios Islands, comprising 23 coral islands southwest of the Bay of Cartagena, which are a beautiful location for day trips to snorkel in crystal clear waters or stay the night on one of the islands.