In Cartagena we decided not to take an excursion and just walk around the city with our friends Allen & Martha.
Cartagena was founded on June 1, 1533 by the Spanish commander, Pedro de Heredia. It became the main port for trade between Spain and its overseas empire, and was a key port for the export of Peruvian silver to Spain. To defend its treasure the city was surrounded by huge walls with canons. These walls still exist today.
Cartagena is very modern outside the old city walls but the old city is what we wanted to visit. In order to get there we had to hire a taxi at the port entrance. At the entrance they had a large souvenir shop and a very small zoo of flamingos, peacocks, toucans, and an anteater to name a few. They had a really huge exhibit of parrots as well. The crossing sign outside was great. We spent a few minutes looking at the animals before hiring our taxi for the trip to the old city.
Most of the buildings in the old city are in the Spanish Colonial design. Several of the buildings had special door knockers. The Colombians probably thought we were crazy taking pictures of these. Still, they were quite amazing.
Also the streets are very narrow and almost all of the buildings had balconies decorated with beautiful plants and flowers. We also came across a woman dressed in the Old Colombian style who posed for a couple of pictures.
Next we visited the local cathedral. The altar screen was very beautifully carved and gilded.
After walking around for a while we saw a coffeehouse named Ábaco, and decided to take a short rest. Turns out it was also a bookstore. It was a great place to relax and have a cup of Colombian coffee.
After the coffee we continued our walk and came across Cartagena’s most famous bronze piece of public art “La Gorda Gertrudis” by sculptor Fernando Botero.
As time was getting short, we began our walk back to our taxi, shopping along the way. We wished that we had more time here.
Fun Fact: In 1741, the British, led by Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, attempted an unsuccessful siege of the city. Amongst the troops was George Washington’s half brother Lawrence. Later, when Lawrence inherited the family estate he renamed the estate to Mount Vernon in honor of this Commander.