Today we spent over four hours touring the city of Santa Marta and some of its most important sites with our guide Jorge. The city is a mixture of colonial (from when the city was under Spanish rule) and republican styles of architecture. It was the first Spanish settlement in Colombia and it’s oldest surviving city (2nd oldest in South America).
Our first stop was the Gold Museum situated on the Simón Bolívar plaza. This was a small but very well designed museum displaying gold & ceramic works from the Tairona people. As you can see these were very talented goldsmiths.
Next was a visit to the city’s Cathedral. It took several years to build due to lack of funds but was finally completed when the city began taxing the local rum products. Located in the cathedral are two tombs for the great South American liberator, Simón Bolívar, neither of which contains his actual body! He was initially buried under the marble slab in the Northeast corner. However government members were appalled that he was buried in such an out of the way place in the church and had the body moved to the front of the altar under a huge brass plaque. Two years later the family moved the body to Caracas, Venezuela, where it lies today.
Also located here are the ashes of Rodrigo de Bastidas who founded the city in 1525.
We left the Cathedral and drove to the “Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino” which was a large rum and coffee plantation at one time. We visited the buildings where rum was made, but it’s real claim to fame is the fact that Simón Bolívar died here of tuberculosis in 1830. The bed where he died is on display as well as the table in the bakery where his autopsy occurred.
Remember the building where the gold museum was located? Simón Bolívar’s body laid in state in that building for a couple of days before being taken to the Cathedral for the funeral.
Our final stop was at a local hotel for a folkloric dance show. Being a hot and humid day we were served a cold beer “Club Columbia”. It was especially appreciated. After the show, it was back to the ship for a cool shower and a rest.