Cartagena, Colombia, officially called Cartagena de Indias, is a city known for its rich history and fairy-tale beauty. The city is a maze of cobbled streets, overlooked by big, bougainvillea-covered balconies. The plazas are lined with trees and shaded by huge churches. Open air cafes abound, as do horse-drawn carriages milling the streets. The city bustles with old-world charm, making it a popular tourist destination. In fact, the city is even listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Visitors needs are met with a wide range of hotels and restaurants, suitable for different tastes and budgets.
The climate is vintage Caribbean, where the temperature stays around 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees Fahrenheit) almost all year long. The hot days are tempered by evening breezes, making the evenings the best time to stroll through the city. October and November are months heavy with rain, while the dry months are from December all the way to April.
Pedro de Heredia founded Cartagena in 1533 on the Calamari Indian Settlement. The town prospered by plundering the natural wealth of the native Indians until 1552, when it was gutted by a fire. Since then buildings have been built only of brick and stone, with wooden structures outlawed. However, despite this tragic event, the town flourished again, becoming a South American storage center for stolen Indian treasures that were to be shipped back home to Spain. Due to this frequent transportation of gold and other treasures from South America to Spain, the Spanish port attracted pirates, who operated their ships on the high seas. These buccaneers, however, did more than intercept cargo-laden Spanish ships, they also invaded Cartagena itself.
The most famous invasion of Cartagena was by the English sea captain, Sir Francis Drake in 1586. He offered to spare the town in exchange for 10 million pesos. Once the ransom was paid, the money was shipped to England. The town decided to protect itself by building a ring of forts. The San Felipe Fortress was responsible for the successful defense against an attack in 1741 by another Englishman, Edward Vernon. Under Blas de Lezo, a Spanish commander with one eye, one arm, and one leg, 2,500 Spaniards successfully countered an attack of 25,000 men in a fleet of 186 ships.
The town continued to flourish as a major Spanish seaport because of its accessibility to trade until 1810, when native Colombians fought for their independence. This was short-lived, because it was reconquered by Pablo Morillo, a ruthless Spanish commander, in 1815. Although Simon Bolivar defeated the Spaniards in Bogota in 1819, it was not until 1821 that Cartagena itself regained its independence.
Travel by air is the best and fastest way to get to the city. All Colombian air carriers operate flights to the airport in Crespo, which is northeast of the city, and the 3 km distance from airport to city is covered by numerous buses and taxis.
Travel by land is another reliable way to get to and from the city because it is handled by three bus services, Expreso Brasilia Expresos Amerlujo and Unitransco Bus. Within the city itself, metrocar buses shuttle around every 10 minutes.
Travel by sea is not easy, and it is usually for those in no hurry to get to Cartagena. Since, no ferry services directly links Cartagena with neighboring Colon, Panama, an indirect route has to be taken from Colon and Barranquilla. Because of this lack of a well-defined sea travel route, most of the sea travel is by chartered yachts, which connect Cartagena and Colon through the San Blas Archipelago. This is usually a leisurely week’s trip, with plenty of time for snorkeling, swimming, and spear fishing.
Not what you were looking for? Search Google and Beachcomber Pete
Beachcomber Pete Travel Tips
Periodic issues- Free advice and suggestions for making your next travel adventure more enjoyable. Learn from fellow traveler’s like yourself the secrets at your next Travel destination.