The exotic Spanish colonial city of Cartagena, Colombia is the first day out on Royal Caribbean’s Southern Caribbean cruise out of Colon, Panama. For a glimpse of history or a pleasant walk among old city shops and restaurants this is a city you will not want to miss. Founded in 1533, Cartagena’s old city is often compared to Old Havana and Panama’s Casco Viejo in its antiquity, preservation of the buildings, and the sense of Spain’s New World Empire that it imparts. The old city has the sturdy construction with a Spanish Baroque exterior of Spanish Colonial buildings. There are excellent restaurants in the center of the old city for a meal and rest at midday.
This city was named Cartagena de Indias and was a commercial center on the Colombian coast. As such Cartagena was the object of pirate attacks. With its Caribbean location Cartagena has Spanish, indigenous, and African roots. It is beautiful coastal city, which has outgrown its original, colonial boundaries.
Stop by either Paco’s on Calle Santo Domingo or Fascinacion – Charleston on Plaza Santa Teresa both in el Centro for excellent Creole cooking. If you prefer Spanish visit El Burlador de Sevilla in el Centro on Calle Santo Domingo.
The Murallas de Cartagena are worth a visit. These are the walls and fortifications of the old city built to protect against pirates.
Construction and reconstruction of these walls started in 1586 and continued as needed by a series of famous architects until 1796.
The downtown area of Cartagena is worth a walk around or a slow drive with a willing taxi driver. The architecture is out of a history book and reasonably well preserved. You will be walking in the steps of the Conquistadors. Bring your camera and save a few memories of the era of the Spanish Main.