Cartagena, a city of walls and white beaches that shines not only for its colonial architecture, but also for its congress infrastructure.
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Cartagena de Indias / Picture: *L*u*z*a*
Cartagena de Indias was founded in 1533 by Pablo de Heredia and soon became the greatest military base in Spanish America. For centuries, the walled city defended itself from its European enemy powers, France and England, who coveted the gold of the Spanish Crown.
Cartagena was the first city in Colombia to declare its independence from Spain, in November 1811. It was also the first city to suffer the scourge of the Spanish troops when they attempted a second conquest in 1815. The city valiantly withstood the enemy’s attacks and soon after became known as “La Heróica” (the heroic city).
Cartagena has done a beautiful job of preserving its historic center, with its colonial mansions, colorful balconies, and narrow streets that lead to lovely plazas planted with trees; its colonial churches; and old cloisters that have been recently converted into luxury hotels. The old wall is also preserved, as well as the castles and fortresses that defended the bay.
Most of the historic sites in Cartagena were declared National Monuments.
Outside the Corralito de Piedra, (the little stone corral), as the colonial city is lovingly called, is a modern, vibrant city that offers comfortable hotels, restaurants, and shopping areas to its visitors.
One of the largest convention centers in Colombia is located in Cartagena: the Centro de Convenciones de Cartagena de Indias, which can host events for up to 2,000 people.
The city offers excellent bathing spots at Bocachica, Punta Barú, Punta Canoas, and Tierrabomba. An hour by boat from the Bay of Cartagena, in the midst of warm waters and coral banks, is the archipelago of the islands of Rosario and San Bernardo. This is a beautiful seascape and landscape of white-sanded beaches that is truly ideal for diving and water sports.