Colorful Cartagena, the gateway to South America
Colors, music, people singing and/ or dancing, sun, good food, no English…this is what Cartagena is all about…completely different from what we’ve seen so far in Asia or USA and of course much closer to Spain or Italy.
Cartagena was the first Spanish colony on the American continent and one of the first sanctuaries of freed African slaves in the Americas. Its independence was gained in 1811 by Simon Bolivar who has been since considered national hero. And Cartagena is also the reason why today most of South America speaks Spanish and not English – it was here in 1741 that Spanish Admiral Blas de Lezo successfully defended the Castillo San Felipe protecting Cartagena from the British armada sent to capture it leaded by Admiral Edward Vernon.
The historic old town, surrounded by a wall is really nice with its fully colonial architecture, very well maintained and full of colors. We just couldn’t get enough of walking around the same streets and Plazas. And it was not only about the architecture, but the overall ambiance, with latino music at each corner, good coffee smell and friendly locals always ready to help if only you could understand or speak a little Spanish. Yes, we are trying to learn!
Getsemani, one of the popular quarters just next to the old town, keeps the colonial style, though mixed with modern graffiti on older, less maintained walls. Here the music is even lauder and locals seem to have a continuous party.
Cartagena is also famous for the biggest film festival in South America and for its “palenqueras” – colorfully dressed creole women selling fruits that are present everywhere on the streets.
We usually do not make recommendations as this is not the objective of our blog, but this time we think the guys from “Free Tour Cartagena” organizing free walking tours around the city really deserve it! So if you happen to visit Cartagena, look out for them – interesting information, professional, nice, quite good English and funny!