Cartagena, Columbia, Last Stop But Long Awaited

1 Apr

It was with both anticipation and trepidation that I arrived in Cartagena. I so wanted to see this city where one of my favorite movies, “Romancing the Stone,” took place. At the same time I was a bit nervous due to all I had heard about Columbia and its major drug cartel problems. 

But all was fine.  By taking a tour through the cruise, I had a bit more feeling of security.  And, although Cartagena has had a major influx of refugees from Venezuela and a large number of street venders looking to sell their wares, I felt safe. 

The Castillo


Our first stop was to see the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas.  Although we did not climb to the top of this fortification that kept the city safe, just seeing it and hearing its history was impressive. We learned how it was built from the bottom up to keep pirates and English from overtaking this Spanish port.  

Next to the walled city of old Cartagena. Over 11 kilometers of a bastion was built to surround this island city which basically became a fortress in its own right. Although Francis Drake did destroy half of it at one time, after his short time there the city’s defenses were reinforced.  

This lovely park hides its history s the place the Inquisition used to burn people to death.


We visited three important stops within easy walking distance in the heart of the city. Walking along the narrow streets in the heat and humidity did make me feel for those who lived here without air conditioning. But it was well worth it. 

The entrance to the Palace of the Inquisition

First stop the Palace of the Inquisition.  As our guide said, not really a place to welcome some one. Over 4000 people were tortured and put to death here in the 200 years the Inquisition was in Columbia. And if you were denounced by someone you were presumed guilty. The park in front of the building was once the place where so-called heretics were burned alive.  This horrible practices only ended in the early 1800 when the slaves were freed and the slave trade stopped. In Columbia the Inquisition targeted Africans who continued their religious practices while professing to be Catholic. 

Among the many golden objects


From there a short walk to the Gold Museum to see the ancient treasures that the Spanish came to take back to Spain. It is sad to think that many of these objects were melted down. But the ones that still exist are stunning. Spain has returned some to Columbia and we were able to see them at this well guarded, secure, and air conditioned museum. 

St Peter Claver is entombed in this new altar.


We had some time here to shop for coffee and other gifts in some lovely little shops along several close by streets before we went to our final stop: The Church of St Peter Claver. Peter Claver was a Jesuit priest who focused on helping the slaves in Columbia.  The church and its surrounding garden and museum buildings are lovely. 

This  visit to Cartagena was much more than I anticipated. I learned that Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Orize Laureate lived there. I do enjoyed his books, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera.” I am looking forward to rewatching. “Romancing the Stone” when I return home and reliving my visit to Cartagena.  

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5 Responses to “Cartagena, Columbia, Last Stop But Long Awaited”

  1. Amy April 1, 2017 at 8:38 am #

    I’ve really enjoyed your travelogue and photos!

    • zicharon April 1, 2017 at 8:55 am #

      Thank you. It has been a great trip!

  2. thegenealogygirl April 1, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

    Such beautiful pictures! I’m glad it felt safe.

    • zicharon April 1, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

      We enjoyed seeing so many new places.

  3. hicartagena May 2, 2017 at 6:25 am #

    Really Its Looking great trip pictures are amazing , Castillo San Felipe de Barajas verry attracting place
    WHY IS CARTAGENA CITY TOUR SO FAMOUS?

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