- Cartagena Colombia : Complete Travel Guide
- Best things to do in Cartagena Colombia
- Best Cartagena Travel Videos
- Where to Stay in Cartagena
- History of Cartagena de Indias
- Cartagena Nightlife : Best Bars, Rooftops & Live Music
- How to get to Cartagena: flights, buses & boats
- Best Hotels in Cartagena
- Top 8 Best Beaches in Cartagena
- Cartagena Wiki: Economy, History, Architecture
01. The Walls
The historic center is surrounded by 11 kilometers of walls. These were complemented with fortifications along the coast, such as the forts of San Sebastián del Pastelillo and the castle
The San Fernando de Bocachica fortress, and an immense fortress on the land flank, the San Felipe castle, made Cartagena an impregnable place.
The walls were built in several stages. The construction of the first one began in August 1586 under the direction of Bautista Antonelli, an Italian engineer working for Spain, but only two years later they were ruined by adverse elements of nature. The engineer Cristóbal de Rada worked on the construction since 1608, who succeeded in walling most of the central sector facing the open sea; but almost all of what had been done was swept away by a tidal wave in 1628. Once again, it was up to Cristóbal de Rada to restart the works and finish them.
Of the 20 bastions that comprised the walls of the old city and Getsemaní, today only 16 remain standing, which are preserved in good condition. The bastion of San Ignacio, which in association with the next one, the bastion of San Francisco; had as mission to defend the dock against any invasion.
The bastions of Santiago Apostle and Santo Domingo, the oldest preserved. These and three other bastions: Santa Cruz, La Merced and Santa Clara, form the group called La Muralla de la Marina. The northern end of the city was protected by the bastion of Santa Catalina, which with that of San Lucas make up one of the most imposing sections of the walled city. The bastion of San Pedro Mártir that concludes the total encirclement of the walls and tied with the Clock Tower was demolished.
As for the walls of Getsemaní, the bastion El Reducto was built to safeguard the entrance to the bay of Las Ánimas. Another important section comprises the bastions of San José, Santa Bárbara, Santa Teresa and San Miguel.
02. Gate and Clock Tower
It is the significant entrance to the walled city. Of the three gates that are open, only the central one existed in the past, and the other spaces were occupied by a weapons room and a chapel. In the central nave is located a gap that served to accommodate the pendulums of the old clock, replaced in 1875.
The external face presents in its central arch a Tuscan style portico, while the inner face, much more austere, bears an inscription on the building. The Clock Gate leads to the Plaza de los Coches.
Plazas and Parks
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03. Plaza de los Coches
It is the first one after passing the Clock Gate. Formerly, it was the site of the slave market. The portals are typical of the town and serve to shade the pedestrian sidewalks, which are used as a newspaper, lottery, candy and cigarette shop.
In the center stands the statue of Don Pedro de Heredia, founder of the city, surrounded by beautiful mansions with wooden balconies, where restaurants, bars and nightclubs are located.
In front is El Portal de los Dulces with its candy stands along the gallery and on the right side of the square is an attractive open-air bar.
04. Plaza de la Aduana
It is the largest square in the city. Originally, it was intended to serve as a parade ground and, in its contour, were the administrative offices during the colonial period. In its interior are some buildings, including the mansion where Don Pedro de Heredia lived. In the center of this square stands the statue of Christopher Columbus.
As the Customs House was located there during the Republic, the same name was applied to the square. The current Municipal Palace is the result of the remodeling of the old Customs House.
An outstanding construction is the house of the Marquis of the Royal Prize, where one of the PIT (Tourist Information Points) of the city is located. At the southern end and along the street leading to the Plaza de San Pedro Claver is the Museum of Modern Art.
05. St. Peter Claver Square
It is one of the most beautiful places in the area. The frame of the square is composed of the church of San Pedro Claver and a series of craft shops, jewelry stores and restaurants. The beauty of the place is enhanced by multiple sculptures and the statue of San Pedro Claver by the artist Enrique Grau, which contrasts with the sculptures made of scrap metal in an avant-garde style representing the various trades created by the master Edgardo Carmona. The building that houses the Museum of Modern Art, inaugurated in 1958, was once the Galeras warehouse. At the end of the small alley is the bastion of San Ignacio.
06. Santo Domingo Square
It is the epicenter of the splendid nightlife of Cartagena. In its surroundings you can find a great variety of bars, antique shops, jewelry stores, cafes and typical and international restaurants, outdoors or air-conditioned, which open their doors in the morning, sometimes until the early hours of the morning.
The plaza is frequented by theatrical performers, musicians, dancers and mimes. Two singular attractions of this place are the Church of Santo Domingo and the sculpture Gertrudis, work of the master Fernando Botero.
7. Bolivar Park
The leafy trees and in general the vegetation along with its fountains provide an air of freshness to this place in the middle of the intense heat of the city. Singular attraction for tourists. In its center is an equestrian statue of the liberator Simón Bolívar and, on the periphery, are the Palace of the Inquisition, the Gold Museum, the Republican building of the Bank of the Republic and its arcades, and the offices of the National Beauty Contest.
On its corners is the Santa Catalina de Alejandría Cathedral, the Governor’s Office and the Rafael Calvo Library. In the evenings, a group of Palenque and Afro-Caribbean communities show the rich folklore of the region to provide a pleasant time for passersby.
8. Fernandez Madrid Park
It is another pleasant place to rest because of its vegetation and surroundings. In the center you can see the statue of the hero Fernández Madrid, beautiful colonial mansions and the temple of Santo Toribio.
9. Plaza de San Diego
It is one of the favorite places for visitors and locals alike. The attraction of the site during the day is the surrounding buildings and the beauty of the University of Fine Arts. Around it there is a wide range of restaurants that at night use it as an open-air terrace. Nearby is the home of the Colombian Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Gabriel García Márquez.
10. Centennial Park
It is the largest space within the walls. It contains green areas, driving instruction sites for children and a skating rink.
The park is surrounded by a wall with sculptures. In one of its fronts is the Camellón de los Mártires, which leads to the Puerta del Reloj. In it there are busts of several martyrs of the liberating insurgency. In addition, the place is the symbol of the first 100 years of the cry of independence of Cartagena.
Plaza de Santa Teresa
The name of this square derives from the former convent of Santa Teresa, si
ted in front. Through this beautiful corner of the city, in the southwest of the walled city, you can cross the small bridge over the mouth of the wall and appreciate the sea, the dome of the church of San Pedro, the Naval Museum and the Parque de la Marina to which you have immediate access.
12. Plaza de la Santísima Trinidad
It is the epicenter of the Getsemaní neighborhood, with a church that bears the same name. In the square you can experience a typical raizal atmosphere, which mixes history with modernity. Also, it was here that Cartagena’s cry for independence was born.
Notable streets, legends and traditions
The most refined examples of colonial streets are Baloco (perhaps the most interesting in the city), Las Damas, La Factoría, the two blocks of Santo Domingo, Don Sancho, Estanco del Tabaco, Cuartel, La Mantilla, La Chichería and San Agustín Chiquito in the area known today as Centro. In the neighboring neighborhood of San Diego, with a lesser architectural style (one-story buildings without the balconies and other architectural luxuries of the houses in the Center), are the streets of La Moneda, Curato, La Cochera, Hobo, Tumbamuerto and Santísimo.
In the suburb of Getsemaní there is still a part of the streets of Espíritu Santo and San Antonio.
13. Candilejo Street
It bears a striking similarity to the street of Seville, Spain, which has the same name. In it was made the representation
symbolic of the execution of Don Pedro the Cruel, persona non grata in Cartagena, as he could not be tried directly.
14. Portocarrero Street
It is the shortest of the streets of the city and is crossed in a few steps. It is between the Plaza de los Coches and the Calle de las Carretas. It is named in honor of José María Portocarrero, martyr of the Independence, shot in 1816.
15.Calle de las Damas
Legend has it that in a house on this street, the founder of the con
The image of the Virgin, which is venerated at the top of the hill, was found in the Popa de la Popa wind.
It is also said that King Charles IV himself, amazed by the high cost of the fortifications of this distant square, decided to come, arriving incognito and disguised as a woman, and that he stayed in one of the houses on this street.
It is characterized primarily because in the convent of Santa Clara were imprisoned some of the heroes of the Colombian Independence.
Since the beginning of the colonial period, there was a hall specially designed for theatrical performances. In a small house, now demolished, Rafael Núñez, former president of Colombia, was born.
18. Santo Domingo Street
There are three streets adjacent to the Plaza de Santo Domingo that have the same name. A popular legend tells that in the street between the square and Factoría Street, every Friday at the same time, a cart pulled by two huge steeds used to appear whose driver threw sparks from his eyes. The vehicle in a fast race would disappear when it entered one of the houses on Factory Street.
In the best known of the streets is located the house of the Counts of Pestagua, which served as the seat of the now existing convent of the Sagrada Familia.
19. Stirrups Alley
It is also called Calle de Nuestra Señora de la Luz. The reinforcements that support the walls of the church of Santo Domingo gave rise to this name.
It is characterized by the beautiful house of the Marquis of Valdehoyos.
21.Don Sancho Street
This is the name of this unique alley, in memory of Don Sancho de Alquiza, a particular character of the colonial era.
22. Curato Street
Its main attraction is the house of the Consulate, which was a place of oratory and shelter for the Poor Clare nuns.
23. Street of the Stone Saints
Its name comes from the fact that the four statues that now adorn the archbishop’s garden were located on the main façade of the cathedral.
24. Archbishopric Street
It stands out because the houses of the Independence heroes Manuel de Anguiano and Antonio José de Ayos still stand there.
25. Tobacco Tobacconist Street
It receives its name because it was the site of a cigar shop during the colonial regime.
26. La Moneda Street
The Casa de la Moneda de la Nueva Granada (New Granada Mint) was located on this street.
27.Calle de la Media Luna
On both sides of this street are located popular and comfortable hotel establishments that are preferred by students and world travelers (routards) or backpackers because of their prices.
28. Arsenal Street
It is one of the most picturesque streets of Cartagena. It begins in front of the Convention Center and with its peaceful cafes, terraces, restaurants, bars, discos and boutiques of various genres and environments.
Museums and Art Galleries
29. Zenú Gold Museum
Inaugurated by the Banco de la República, it opened its doors to the public in 1982. It contains the most beautiful testimony of the Zenú Culture. In its rooms the visitor can appreciate the cultural manifestations of this indigenous group. It exhibits precious gold jewelry and other pre-Columbian pieces.
The Zenú archaeological area is located in the current departments of Córdoba, Sucre, Bolívar and part of Antioquia. Its inhabitants developed a hierarchical society whose economy was based on agriculture, natural resource management and barter.
Services: guided tours, screening and lending of anthropological videos, children’s workshops, lending of educational suitcases, workshops for teachers on the Museum’s services, educational activities for school groups and anthropological programming (seminars, conferences and exhibitions).
Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sundays and holidays: 11 a. m. to 4 p. m. Free admission.
Bolivar Square (5) 660 07 78 www.banrep.org/museo www.banrep.org/blaavirtual
Museum of Modern Art
Permanent and itinerant exhibitions of pictorial and sculptural art. In front of it is the Plaza de San Pedro, where several iron sculptures (scrap iron) representing the trades of the coastal man allude to the museum.
Located on San Juan de Dios Street, this unique museum contains pieces and elements related to Colombian naval history. Next to it is the office of the Cartagena International Film Festival, recognizable by a sculpture of India Catalina, the image of the award that year after year rewards the best in cinema.
32. Palace of the Inquisition / Cartagena Historical Archive
Since 1610, the same place served as the headquarters of the Tribunal de Penas del Santo Oficio (Court of Penalties of the Holy Office). Architecturally, it is one of the most important examples of the colonial era. The baroque entrance and the wooden balconies stand out.
The purpose of the Inquisition was to judge crimes committed against the religious faith. It never recognized innocents. Its jurisdiction included Venezuela, Nicaragua, Santo Domingo, Windward Islands, Panama and the New Kingdom of Granada. Connected to the palace is the building that was the residence of the inquisitors, which had 13 secret jails.
On November 11, 1811, day of the Independence of Cartagena, the documents of the court were symbolically incinerated and the inquisitors were expelled. This was reinstalled in 1815 with the arrival of the Spanish troops commanded by the pacifying general Pablo Morillo, and remained until 1821, year in which the city was totally liberated. Next to the Palace are the Colonial Museum, the Academy of History and the Society of Public Improvements. At present, the Palace houses the Cartagena Historical Archive.
33. Bolivar House
The Liberator stayed in this colonial house on San Agustín Street. There are conference rooms, a library and several archaeological pieces. There, Simón Bolívar wrote about the emancipation and freedom of Venezuela.
Palaces, mansions and manor houses
34. District Mayor’s Office
It occupies the southeast flank of the Plaza de la Aduana. It has a gallery of symmetrical arches on the ground floor and continuous balconies on the second floor. The second floor was destined to deposits and in the second floor were the treasury, the accountant’s office and the housing of the employees. In what was the Casa de la Aduana, during the republican period, is today the administrative headquarters of the city.
35. Palace of the Governor’s Office
Today, this palace is the headquarters of the departmental government. This building’s use as an administrative center is not recent, since the City Council has been functioning there since 1767. Its architecture is an imitation of the palaces of Old Castile.
With its 18th and 19th century European opera house style, it was built in the shape of a horseshoe with boxes and balconies divided by cedar lattices that look like lace. It was built over the old church of La Merced. It was officially inaugurated in 1911 with the performance of floral games and, in February 1912, the company of Evangelina Adams premiered its stage.
Palace of Justice
This is the name of the beautiful building adjacent to the old convent of La Merced (Teatro Heredia) which was the seat of regional and local justice. Today it is the headquarters of postgraduate studies at the University of Cartagena.
38. House of the Marquis of Valdehoyos
Typically colonial residence that belonged to the Marquis of Valdehoyos, a person who had the privilege of importing slaves and flour. It stands out in its showy facade, the windows with finely carved wooden bars and the central balcony that communicates with the main living room.
The floors and ceilings are also made of wood. Occasionally, cultural events or social events such as exhibitions, receptions and conferences are held here. Today it is the alternate headquarters of the Chancellery of the Republic.
Don Benito House
It is one of the best preserved colonial houses in the city.
40. Chamber of Commerce
On the corner of Baloco Street, it is housed in a 17th century aristocratic house.
Bartolomé Calvo Library
Of neoclassical style, it contains the most important library in the city.
42. Mapfre House, Skandia House and Banco de la República Building.
On the same Calle de la Inquisición are two old restored mansions. On the corner with Landrinal Street is the Republican style building of the Bank of the Republic, easily recognizable by its long series of arches. This sector is also known as the Portal de los Escribanos. The offices of the National Beauty Contest are located here.
43. Candelaria House
It is the most classic example of colonial architecture. Its facade stands out with its unique gate. It is located on Damas Street.
Other colonial mansions
Although within the walled center, each house, mansion or building is a true colonial jewel, the Casa de Bolivar and Casa España stand out.
Religious architecture : Churches and Cloisters
It is known that the construction of temples and convents in Cartagena was the work of a small group of people, due to the aesthetic unity that predominates in the civil architecture of the entire city. In fact, it is very possible that the same hands built the cloisters of La Popa, San Francisco, Santa Teresa, San Agustín, San Diego, La Merced and Santa
Clara. Only the buildings of the Society of Jesus (San Pedro Claver) and Santo Domingo deviate from this notion of the typical Cartagena cloister.
44. Sanctuary of San Pedro Claver
Both the church and the monastery were built at the beginning of the 17th century by members of the Jesuit community,
for this reason it was formerly called ‘Iglesia de San Ignacio de Loyola’ (Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola). Its current name is a well-deserved tribute to St. Peter Claver, a Spanish man whose magnificent work was to fight for the underprivileged and the oppressed. He took the most important step for the definitive liberation of the slaves, which is why he was called the Apostle of the blacks. The saint, whose remains are preserved in an urn in the lower part of the main altar, lived and died in the convent adjacent to the church, and a chapel was erected in his room, located at the landing of the stone staircase leading to the convent. There is an important archaeological museum.
In 1888 the church was restored, and in 1921 the present dome was added, the work of the French architect Gaston Lelarge.
45. Church and Convent of Santo Domingo
It is the oldest temple in Cartagena. Its construction began in the late sixteenth century, and had to overcome five stages for its completion. The abutments that protrude into the street were made when the original walls gave way. Its tower is slightly crooked and, like some churches of its time, has a fortified apse. The altar, of baroque style, has an image of Christ carved in wood in the middle of the last century, called the Christ of the exhalation; and an image of the Virgin whose crown is of gold and
emeralds. The arch, which rests on two columns and supports the choir, is famous among the architects of the world for being almost straight.
46.Church and monastery of San Francisco
It was used as temporary lodging for the first inquisitors before the court began to operate in the pantheon where it was definitively installed. In the neighboring corner is located the church of the Third Order, where the military received burial.
47.Church of Santo Toribio de Mongrovejo
Corner of the Fernández Madrid Park. It has the characteristics of a hermitage, with several altarpieces of the time and a beautiful altar.
48. Church of San Roque Very old temple, located in the street of San Roque.
of the Crescent.
It is located in the very center of the Getsemaní sector. It houses several works of religious art.
Monuments and Sculptures
50. Catalina India Monument
It is one of the masterpieces of the sculptor Eladio Gil. The Indian symbolizes the native race. It is said that Catalina, a beautiful and brave warrior born in the neighboring town of Galerazamba, was captured by Alonso de Ojeda once the mutiny in which the Cartagena native Juan de la Cosa died was over, in 1509. Later, Diego de Nicuesa took her to Central America and sold her as a slave in Santo Domingo. Don Pedro de Heredia brought her back to Cartagena as an interpreter in 1533.
51. Monument to the Pegasus
It is named after the two sculptures of the mythical winged steeds that adorn the promenade of the pier,
next to the Convention Center. The Pegasus Pier is an ideal place for a stroll, especially at sunset, when the city is beautifully illuminated.
52. Gertrudis Sculpture
Work of the master Fernando Botero, donated in homage to the city. It is in the Plaza de Santo Domingo, in front of the church.
53. Monument of San Pedro Claver
Between the entrance door to the convent and the nearby walls, the master Enrique Grau paid homage to the saint with this beautiful work.
54. Gannet monument
It is another work of master Gil, which exalts the local avifauna, located on the boardwalk on one side of Santander Avenue.
Cartagena is a city of public works of art. Among the main sculptural works are Tesoros de Cartagena, by Salvador Arango; Las chatarras, sculptures in the San Pedro plaza; the busts of heroes and patriarchs in the camellón de los Mártires, and the sculptures located at the entrances to the Parque del Centenario.
Other places of special interest
55. Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala Convention and Exhibition Center
It is one of the best equipped in Latin America. This venue can accommodate more than 4,500 people. It is highly versatile because it can be used for plays, musical shows, film projections or large congresses. The ceiling is specially built to reproduce the acoustics required.
The Quadrant is one of the interior areas where the commercial stands are set up for events, adjacent to the Grau Hall and the Hall of the Great Hall Barahona.
The convention center also has large outdoor areas, such as the Esplanade of San Francisco and the Patio de Banderas, 2100 square meters; the Claustro de las Animas, 2277 square meters; and the gardens of the Paseo del Arsenal, 4200 meters. It is an ideal place for mass attendance events.
amidst the most beautiful views of old Cartagena and the bay.
56. The Vaults
They are located in the northern sector of the walled city, between the forts of Santa Clara and Santa Catalina. It consists of 47 arches and 23 vaults themselves, and is considered the last work of the Colonial period, executed within the fortified perimeter. Its use was exclusively military; it served the Spaniards as barracks and, later, during the time of the Independence and the beginning of the Republic, to the patriots as prisons. The vaults were restored and in them were conditioned attractive and original premises where art galleries, bars and handicraft stores operate.
External part of the walls
57. Fortification of San Felipe de Barajas
Simply known as San Felipe Castle, it is the largest defensive complex built by Spanish military engineering in the New World. It stands on top of the hill of San Lazaro, a strategic point from which any attempt to invade the city by land or sea could be warned.
Its construction began in 1536 and was completed more than a century later, in 1657. It received the name of San Felipe in honor of the sovereign who reigned at the time, Felipe IV. This first castle was a triangular-shaped hood, with four sentry boxes, a cistern, a storehouse and lodging for the soldiers, and was equipped with eight cannons. The castle withstood several assaults and was key to the defense of the city in the attack, in 1741, of the English troops under the command of Admiral Vernon. It fell only once, in 1697, at the hands of the French commanded by Baron De Pointis.
In 1762, the threat of a new war with England led Spain to the decision to reinforce all the defenses of its colonies. The military engineer Antonio de Arévalo was in charge of converting the castle of San Felipe into an impregnable fortress. De Arévalo reinforced it with collateral batteries that could hold 63 cannons. At the same time, this set of batteries was protected by a high and steep wall that was impossible to climb. Inside, he arranged an intricate network of tunnels, galleries, slopes and traps, so as to allow a successive retreat from one battery to the next, as well as an ingenious system of mines to blow up the fort if it was taken by the enemy.
Once the danger of the wars was over, the castle was abandoned, and even served as a quarry, until its restoration began in 1928. At the entrance to the enclosure is the statue of Commander General Don Blas de Lezo, defender of Cartagena during the attack of Admiral Vernon in 1741, even though he was one-eyed, lame and one-armed.
58. Monument to the Old Shoes
It is located in the back of the Castle of San Felipe. Work represented by a pair of old bronze shoes made in honor of Luis Carlos Lopez, the poet from Cartagena who became famous for the sonnet “A los zapatos viejos” (To the old shoes), which is quoted in the place.
59. Sanctuary of La Popa, Candelaria Convent
From the top of the historic hill overlooking the entire city, you can see one of the most beautiful panoramas of the whole at an altitude of more than 170 meters.
At the beginning of the 17th century, at the top of this prominence, the Augustinian Fathers built the cloister that was called the Convent of Our Lady of Candelaria. Later it was the site of fights; it also served as a barracks and a fort. After a long period of abandonment, the building was restored by the Augustinians in 1964.
At the back is the most rugged place on the hill, the Salto del Cabrón, from where, according to legend, the first superior of the convent was born,
Fray Alonso de la Cruz, threw a goat called Busiraco, an object of worship and adoration of the Indians.
60. Barrio de Bocagrande Its panoramic view forms the inverted letter L.
The main street, which starts at the Naval Base, has San Martín Avenue as its axis, which reaches the Caribe Hotel, from where another road leads to El Laguito. The height of the letter is formed by the Castillogrande sector, whose main street is called Piñango Avenue, which ends at the Naval Club. The neighborhood is located between the Caribbean Sea and the bay of Cartagena.
61. Pedestrian walkway of Castillogrande
From the Naval Club to the Naval Base, along the entire bay, there is a beautiful pedestrian promenade that rejoices for the beauty of the panorama that can be appreciated. It is a place of concurrence of skaters, joggers, walkers, children and lovers.
Barrio del Cabrero / Ermita del Cabrero Hermitage
Chapel where the remains of the poet and President Rafael Núñez, author of the lyrics of the National Anthem and precursor of the 1886 Constitution that ruled until 1991, are preserved. He was also the only Colombian president who governed from Cartagena.
House of Rafael Núñez
The villa in front of the chapel belonged to the illustrious public man and now houses a small museum with objects belonging to him, which are evidence of his relevance in the recent history of the country.
It is located on the island of Manga. The mansions that stand out in this sector combine the opulence of an era of progress with the sobriety of Creole architecture influenced by the Arab and the most recent Californian architecture. Most of the houses are submerged under the cool shade of huge mango trees. Unfortunately, many of these mansions have been demolished to make way for modern buildings.
The fort of San Sebastián del Pastelillo replaced the fort of Boquerón, the first fortress built in the city. It is home to the Fishing Club, the main dock for pleasure boating.
Located on the main street of Manga, it is a favorite place for visitors to the area, due to its beautiful architecture that combines Moorish and neo-republican styles. The mansion is surrounded by a beautiful garden and its mosaics stand out. In addition to this one, in Manga there are many houses of the peculiar stately style of the time.
It connects the city, from the Crespo neighborhood, near the airport, with the Santander traffic circle, at the beginning of the Bocagrande neighborhood. It is a ring road that joins the ring road and connects Cartagena with Barranquilla.
A tour along this road artery has for the tourist the attraction of being a sample, by way of synthesis, of Cartagena: historical walls, tropical landscapes and salty sea air. At night you can appreciate the illuminated walls and the domes of the Cathedral and San Pedro Claver churches.
Cartagena has beaches in Bocagrande, El Laguito, Marbella, Crespo, La Boquilla and Manzanillo del Mar, in addition to those of Tierrabomba, Bocachica, Barú and the Rosario Islands. In all of them you can count with chairs and parasols service and access to refreshments and typical food.
There are rules for bathers, one of them is to pay attention to the meaning of the signal flags. Green flag: there are no waves or dangerous currents. Yellow: there is some kind of swell or current.
recommends bathing with some caution and not to move away from the beach and red: the bathing should not be taken, because the danger is imminent.
Where there are no caution flags, it is necessary to consult with tour guides or local authorities or people who are experienced and local, as recklessness in the sea of Cartagena can lead to problems.
Lifeguard service is available at some beaches. It is forbidden to use them during the night hours.
62. Corales del Rosario y de San Bernardo National Natural Park
Territorially, it lies between Bolivar and Sucre and covers an area of 120,000 hectares. It forms two archipelagos in both departments: the Rosario Islands and the San Bernardo Islands. Its temperature ranges from 27 to 30 °C.
The ecosystem is composed of coral reefs, sedimentary bottoms, sandy beaches, mangroves, wetlands, seagrass meadows and tropical dry forest. Few places in the world offer such an extraordinary spectacle of beauty as this one.
On the other hand, these formations serve as substrate for an enormous variety of colorful species: calcareous algae, sponges, feather duster worms, sea lilies, anemones and soft corals, among others. As if this were not enough, there are many fish and invertebrates that move over the corals or take refuge in their holes and chinks. This wonderful spectacle can be seen at very shallow depths, thanks to the transparency of the waters.
The terrestrial portions of the park in Bolivar’s territory are the islands of Tesoro, Rosario (Isla Grande, Pajarales and Periquito), and Barú; the Mohán swamp and the surrounding mangrove forest.
One of the park’s most outstanding characteristics are the coastal lagoons found within the islands, which are connected to the sea by channels and mouths that allow for water exchange. For example, the Mohán swamp forms a corridor between Barbacoas Bay and the open sea. The Cholón swamp is located on the western side of Barú Island and is the park’s largest coastal lagoon.
The park’s fauna is abundant. There are more than 50 known species of corals that form reefs, constituting a
of the coral reefs of the Colombian Caribbean, 167 species of fish and 60 species of birds.
The vegetation is mainly underwater, and its meadows protect the diversity of fauna. Many vertebrate and invertebrate species are ecologically and commercially important. The ecosystem of the surrounding area and the Canal del Dique has allowed shrimp farming.
How to get there
To Baru Island
Land route: to cross the Dique channel, take a ferry from Pasacaballos, and then continue by unpaved road to the town of Santa Ana de Barú or Playa Blanca.
Water route: from the tourist pier of La Bodeguita, on Blas de Lezo Avenue in front of the Marina Park, boats depart to different destinations on the island.
To the Rosario Islands
Aquatic route: you depart by boat from the tourist pier La Bodeguita, in Cartagena. These operate between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. The trip lasts from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the destination island and the boat you are traveling on. If you leave from the town of Baru to the Rosario Islands, the trip takes 20 minutes.
The traveler has the opportunity to interact with the communities, mainly Afro-descendants, who provide various ecotourism services of environmental guidance and interpretation.
On the islands that are not part of the protected area, practices have been consolidated around artisanal fishing, conventional tourism, cultivation of small plots of land, and extraction of mangrove resources. There are groups of wood artisans and manufacturers of other handicrafts that market their products to visitors.
- hiking, flora and fauna observation -especially birds-, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing and kayaking.
The main underwater routes are those of Punta Brava and Luis Guerra, but it is advisable not to stray far from the demarcation buoys. Both allow you to observe a great variety of corals, sponges, fish, and
Both can be reached by boat from Isla Grande: the first from the Las Mantas inlet sector, and the second from the southern sector.
In Isla Grande, the largest of this archipelago, there are several trails that can be traveled on foot or by bicycle and that cross the island from one end to the other. While walking along them, you can have contact with some native communities or baquianos, who accompany and guide tourists on their walk.
El Indio Encuera Environmental Interpretation Trail For adventure lovers, this trail among the tropical dry forest
and mangroves, wetlands, beaches and bodies of water, will allow you to observe the interaction of species such as barack ducks that migrate from as far away as Canada, and other birds such as the white-crowned pigeon that travels through the Antillean belt, as well as reptiles such as boas and iguanas.
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