Adrift in Cartagena de Indias

Interesting about the name Cartagena de Indias –  the European settlement was established in 1533 when the belief that the Spanish explorers would arrive on the shores of India was still within historical memory.   The Spanish first sited the sheltered bay of Cartagena de Indias around 1510 (see below map), noting it’s potential as a port.  When crews from three Spanish ships finally settled the site in 1533, it reminded them of the Bay at Cartagena, Spain, where many of them were from.  So, the name Cartagena de Indias was used to distinguish this Cartagena from the much older Carthaginian port city of Cartagena, Spain (established in 229 BC).

Cartagena's Bay

Original colonial settlement shown by red dots on Calamari peninsula, with Port facing Interior Bay (Bahia Interior)

So anyway, there I was, adrift in Cartagena.  No agenda, no plans, just there to take it all in with family.

Murralla and modern city

Old and New: 16th century fortification wall (La Muralla) at left, high rise residential towers in background

The old colonial city with it’s original 16th century fortification wall (muralla) gets plenty of visitors and it is fascinating.  But the neighborhood of Getsemaní, close by the old city is just as interesting and a lot less visited.  It is said to be where African slaves first settled, and where the independence movement was born.  Today with its more modest, simpler architecture, it has a more open and airy feel than the old city and it has become a favored destination for backpacking travelers.  Here, visitors can mix more easily with residents.  There are a number of reasonably priced pensiones (we asked about prices at one or two).

backpackers walk

Backpackers stroll by a pensión in Getsemaní

soccer and chat

Casual soccer in the street during late afternoon

It has also become a magnet for urban wall mural art (formerly graffiti).  In 2013, for the first time, the neighborhood actually hosted the International Festival of Urban Art.  Anyway, murals are everywhere.  They are spectacular and they really catch the eye.  There are also street sculptures.  See below:

woman with eyes closed


sculpted flautist

My sister in law put together a spectacular 2-minute labeled video montage of photos with a soundtrack featuring a song named for the neighborhood.  And here it is:


3 responses to “Adrift in Cartagena de Indias

  1. Jonathan, Tu blog en Cartagena fue bueno y muy informativo. Gracias, Paolo

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Joni gracias por poner mi video en tu blog. Muy gratos y bonitos recuerdos de nuestro viaje a Cartagena. Nunca es tarde cuando la dicha llega. Jajajaja. Lo digo por la reseña… One year later. Siguiendote en tus viajes.

  3. Bueno, de nada y perdona la demora!

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