We hired a driver, and his new van of 8 days, who gave us 5 hours of splendid touring of his city. I believe all six of us in our party enjoyed this historic city and our driver who attempted to keep many of the street sellers from pestering us as much as possible.
Our first view was of the port and portions of the new city as we headed to the old city still surrounded by a massive fortress built by the Spanish beginning 1586.
However, the enchantment of the old town was still there filled with shops, restaurants and unique building that have such historical significance and presenting a fascinating view of what life would have been like 500 years ago.
Founded in 1533 this city still remains an economic hub and tourist attraction in north Colombia, South America. Cartagena’s name was copied from Cartagena, Spain. Like Cartagena, Colombia; the Cartagena in Spain is a walled city with a fine harbor. The city was founded in 230 BC by a Carthaginian, and at one time it was said to be one of the richest cities in the world. Today this seaport city in Spain has about 200,000 inhabitants as opposed to Cartagena, Colombia's 1,000,000.
Near the lagoon of the fortress of San Felipe, (The largest Spanish fort in the new world) we stopped for a photo shoot and was bombarded by vendors with many conceivable wares.
Leaving here we head up to top of the highest hill in the area at 420 feet where one has a great panorama of the city and where the Monastery of La Popa was built. Again vendors, but the prices were better.
We needed a break so Miguel, our driver, took us to an emerald shop where the precious stone was made and sold. The prices were fair and the A/C great, but we soon headed to another outdoor mall. Here we found different wares but the vendors had one pitch. Buy!
Later we drove though the old city, which was much larger than thought, and were impressed with the architecture and antiquities, etc. I soon had taken 30-40 photos because of their beauty and uniqueness. It is the fifth largest urban area in Colombia, and a center of economic activity in the Caribbean region, as well a popular tourist destination.
Cartagena has perhaps the most elaborate network of Colonial military structures the Spanish empire ever built. Cartagena was the hub for all gold and silver being shipped back to Spain and the subjects of relentless attacks by Pirates and the enemies of the Spanish. At the top of the San Felipe Castle there is a souvenir shop. There are replicas there but there are also great antique cannon balls both English and Spanish.
Finally, we started back to the ship via a coastal drive and had some of the most beautiful view of the city and beaches.
There is much to experience in this city due to the enchantment of the Caribbean and friendly people. These blended together within the living history of the streets of Cartagena made it an exciting place to visit.
"That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed."
- Ezra 4:15