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UNESCO world heritage site old Cartagena
Cartagena Colombia also known as Cartagena de Indias; is located on Colombia's hot and muggy tropical Caribbean shores. It was established in 1533 as Spain's main South American trading port for silver and slaves and named for its namesake Cartagena Spain. Today its a bustling port with a population 971,592 ranking as the 5th largest city in Colombia. The remnants of Spain's colonial past is still alive today in the city's architecture, city walls, bull fighting and fortresses thus resulting in Cartagena as being named a Unesco World Heritage site in 1984.
There are many Spanish era churches within the wall of Cartagena, as the The 1533 dated Convento de Santo Domingo which after lengthy restorations is open for Sunday services once again.
From the Covenant of Santa Cruz de la Popa is a birds eye view of Cartagena.
The Tower clock provides the entrance into the old walled city of Cartagena. Passing through the entrance one is in awe of the hustle and bustle of the street merchants, food concessions, picturesque plazas with palm lined streets and buskers playing Champeta.
The defensive walls of Cartagena stretch 11 km. This made Cartagena a militarily impregnable city in its day. The walls were designed and built to protect the city from pirate attacks and other European colonial powers.
Modern hotels and shopping complexes rise over the Caribbean beaches of The Boca Grande, as tourism is the mainstay of the economy. The Bocagrande (Big Mouth) is an area known as the Miami of South America for its many skyscrapers and vibrant night life. The area contains most of the city's tourist facilities, such as hotels, shops, restaurants, nightclubs and art galleries. It is located between Cartagena Bay to the east and the Caribbean Sea to the west. The beaches of Bocagrande, lying along the northern shore, are made of volcanic sand, which is slightly grayish in color. This makes the water appear muddy, though it is not. There are breakwaters about every 200 yard
A day at the beach in Cartagena can provide for a lively circus like atmosphere attracting beach goers from across South America and Europe; especially during festivals as The Cartagena Festival Internacional de Música held the first two weeks each January. The beaches of The Boca Grande at this time are swarmed by thousands of young South American music fans partaking in rave like beach concerts by a selection of top international DJ's.
A trip to Old Cartagena is like stepping back in time. The Old city is vibrant, colorful and alive with many unique artisan shops. Water fountains, open air plazas and horse drawn carriages all add to its old world ambiance. The weather can be hot and muggy with regular 90% humidity - so dress appropriately and avoid the mid-day sun. Taxi's are bountiful and dirt cheap. The city has come along way in regards to improved security and tourist services. English is limited, as most tourists tend to be from else where in South America. Day trips to the white sands and turquoise waters of the Rosario Islands are also available.
Getting There: Direct flights in the winter months connect major North American cities with the Rafael Núñez International Airport. Connecting flights within Colombia via Bogota and Medellin are also possible.
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