Cartagena, La Habana, and San Juan de Puerto Rico were the 3 most important ports in the West Indies. Cartagena in particular boasts the elaborate military architectural landscape that is reminiscent of the 16th to 18th century. It is the most extensive architectural landscape of its kind in the New World (read Americas).
Cartagena de Indias were founded in 1533 by Madrileno Don Pedro de Heredia on a small coastal archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The Port city is located on the Gulf of Darien about 100 kilometers west of the mouth of Rio Magdalena. Cartagena utilized its natural defensive position to cultivate good relationship with merchants hence its success. It is situated on a narrow band of land cut off from the mainland by a succession of bays that offer good anchorage. The narrow channels that lead to it are also a natural defense.
Apparently its good defensive position attracted all manner of people. A century after it was founded, all the stolen treasures from the Indians of New Granada were stowed away here before being taken to Spain. The ensemble of Cartagena town is made up of palaces, gardens, churches and convents etc. that adapted to the Catalan and Andalusia styles.
In 1586, the Crown of Spain commissioned Bautista Antonelli to fortify the city. He completed this task in the 17th century, making Cartagena impregnable in such a way that it was able to withstand the attacks by Baron Pontis until 1697.
Additional fortifications were put up in the 18th century to make the city more spacious. Initially, the fortifications only covered the urban ensemble, the bastioned harbor of San Matis and the tower of San Felipe del Boqueron.
Slowly is slowly, all the passes were put under the protection of forts.
Points of Interest
Below are some of the places that you should get a chance to visit during your tour of Cartagena:
- Forts - : San Luis, San José, San Fernando in Bocachica, San Rafael, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Juan de Manzanillo, San Sebasi de Pastellilo and San Felipe de Barajas
- Residential quarters - San Pedro, San Diego and Gethsemani
- The Puerta del Reloj - This is the main entrance of the walled enclosure
- The Plaza de los Coches
- Religious ensembles - the cathedral (1575-1612), the church and convent of San Pedro Claver, the church of Santo Domingo, and the monastery of San Diego
- Civic Buildings - the Palace of the Inquisition which houses the historical and archaeological museum, the Palace of the Government, and the home of Marquia de Valdehoyos
- Military buildings - the Plaza de los Coches where the military ammunitions used to be kept
- The Monasterio de la Popa
Make sure you get a chance to see this beautiful city. It is your classic colonial city with all that the architectural masterpieces that went with it.