One of the oldest cities in Colombia and South America, Cartagena was founded in 1533 by Pedro de Heredia, a Spanish conquistador. It quickly became one of the most important ports in the Americas. Because of this and its easy-access location, it became an easy target for European pirates. After suffering from several attacks by pirates, it was decided that it would be rebuilt as a walled city, thus, its Spanish nickname “La Ciudad Amurallada”, which is now only a part of the city, since the city has been extending its limits over time. As you can imagine, Cartagena is a place full of history, romance and, of course, beaches for all kinds of preferences.
As it was mentioned above, Cartagena is one of the oldest cities in Colombia and the Americas, in general. Before it was consolidated as a city, it was inhabited by different indigenous tribes such as the Kalamari. Then the Spanish conquistadores came and established a city that would become a major business and trading center among the different colonies. Its early success and lack of a strong defensive system made it an easy target for pirates, which attacked the city several times. This led to the construction of different forts, which, since then, have been representative of the city. From that moment, Cartagena ceased to be a pirate-vulnerable city. Later on, the independence came, and the city broke ties with Spain and started evolving in its own way. Today, Cartagena is a result of all of this historical turmoil. Anywhere you go, you can see, breathe and feel all the places and events that have made of Cartagena a timeless city.
There are some cities in the world that simply inspire and invite to fall in love, and Cartagena is one of those places. Its romantic atmosphere has inspired many writers, musicians, filmmakers, and other artists to produce magnificent works of art. For example, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Times of Cholera takes place there, and the city, more than a setting, is a fundamental character in the book. But it is not only reflected in art, anyone who goes to Cartagena can “feel the love”. Whether you take a walk through the cobblestone streets, ride on a horse carriage, sit on a wooden park bench, go dancing or eating at night, or just appreciate the sunset, you will surely be touched by Cartagena’s romantic soul.
When it comes to beaches, Cartagena has options for all tastes. First, you can go to the beaches inside the Cartagena city area such as Bocagrande, Castillogrande, and El Boquillo. If you are looking to relax by spending some time alone in the beach or are looking for white-sanded beaches, these are not the places to go. Instead, these beaches offer more of a local experience to its visitors. You can enjoy some water sports or simply sit on the beach enjoying a cold beer and interacting with the local merchants, who offer everything from food to varied handicrafts. This interaction between the city commerce and the relaxation that beach provides is something that everyone has to experience, at least once. On the other hand, if you’re more inclined to go to white-sanded beaches with clear blue water, that are not too crowded, and need to interact with nature to be able to relax, you must go to Rosario Islands (Islas del Rosario) or Baru Island (Isla de Baru). These are about 30 to 60 minutes away from Cartagena but the trip, which is not long, by the way, is totally worth it. Without a doubt, they will be some of the most magnificent places that you’ve always been to.