Sunday, October 23, 2016

Cities of the coast: Cartagena

Cartagena's old city

Cartagena is a colonial city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It is best known for its old city and colonial architecture. The city itself has an interesting history of colonisation, pirates, privateers and battles amongst all the colonial powers.

Overseeing the old city is the imposing fort of San Felipe de Bajaras

Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

This enormous fort protected the old city of Cartagena from privateer attacks, as well as attacks from the French (a successful attack) and the British and colonial US forces (an unmitigated disaster). Interestingly, the father of George Washington participated in the unsuccessful British attack.

One of the many cannons used to repel the British attack.

When you explore the fort's defences it is easy to see why it was so difficult to take and why the French attack was only successful due to the cunning of their commander, the French intelligence about the lack of defenders in the fort at the time and the utter incompetence of the defenders (forgetting to destroy the wooden stairway that allowed entry to the fort).

The entry showing the reconstructed stairway (red)

The fort also has an extensive number of tunnels that were used for transporting troops and ammunition between the many batteries in the fort.

One of the many tunnels

The tower from one of the batteries

The South battery in the tower.

The old city of Cartagena is also surrounded by city walls with an impressive display of cannons.

The city walls

And enclosed within these walls are narrow colonial streets

A street in the old city

Colonial churches

San Pedro church

The Cathedral

San Domingo church


Plaza de los coches

And of course the city walls and defences.

City walls overlooking the harbour

The clock gate

Just outside the city walls are even more narrow colonial streets.

Streets in the Getsemani barrio

Often adorned with street art

Street art in Getsemani

Further afield is the modern part of Cartagena, which is just like any modern city and, although the beaches are nice, the constant harassment from aggressive street sellers makes a trip to Cartagena beach quite unpleasant.

Cartagena beach

Much better to enjoy a beer and the sunset in one of the bars on the walls of the old city.

View at night from one of the bars on the wall

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