Walking Tour of Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena, Colombia, a coastal community on the Caribbean Sea, dates to 1533 and is noted for its magnificent city walls and numerous fortifications. The Ciudad Marmalade (“walled city”) should be the focus of any visit. The compact Old Town is ideal for walking. Wander through the Barrio San Diego (in the northern part of the old town) whose military storerooms, Las Bovedas (The Vaults), have been transformed into crafts shops.
My walk begins in Plaza Santo Domingo, one of the city’s most popular gathering places, and home to the city’s oldest church, Iglesia/Claustro Santo Domingo.
Exit at the eastern side of the square (away from the walls), and turn right on Calle Santo Domingo, then left on Calle de la Inquisicion, then turn left, at Plaza Bolivar, to visit the Palacio de la Inquisicion, where infamous investigations once took place, and the Museo de Oro y Arqueologia.
Also on this plaza is the Cathedral, built in 1586, and then destroyed by Sir Francis Drake. It has been lovingly restored, with its splendid exterior and huge golden altar inside.
From here, walk south on Calle Don Sancho to reach Iglesia/Claustro/Museo San Pedro Claver, dedicated to South America’s first saint.
Now, walk back along Calle Don Sancho, and turn right on Calle de la Amargura to reach Plaza de la Aduana, another of the city’s quaint and lovely squares.
From here, walk along the ancient city walls, eastward, to find the Portal de los Dulces and, beyond that, the Torre del Reloj. The square here is called Plaza de los Coches.
From this plaza, walk southeast toward the Parque Centenario. You may either stroll through the park or walk around it, keeping the park on your left. Calle de la Media Luna leads to the Puente de Heredia. Cross the lagoon to reach El Castillo de San Felipe de Borajas, a formidable fortress, built in the 16th century, following the plunder of the city by Sir Francis Drake. The fort is one of Cartagena’s must-see attractions.
After your visit, recross the Heredia Bridge and turn right on Avenida Luis Carlos Lopez. When you reach the intersection with Avenida Venezuela, turn left, then bear right onto Calle de la Cruz, and then turn right on Calle Bonda and left on Tablado to reach the Barrio San Diego (on your right), a charming jumble of streets which are delightful to stroll. In the Barrio, look for Calle de las Bovedas to get to Las Bovedas, the old jail, now converted to shops.
After browsing in the shops for a while, return to Plaza de San Diego and exit the square by walking west on Sargento Mayor, which changes names but eventually leads to the Playa de la Artilleria. Turn left on this street and walk along the city walls back to Plaza Santo Domingo, where your walking tour began.