Shopping in Cartagena
For shopping, head to Las Bóvedas artisan center. These old arcades with 46 arches and 23 dungeons or vaults were once part of military quarters used as lodging for troops and as arms storage; the dungeons were later turned into a prison. The area has been converted into an attractive shopping center with boutiques, souvenir shops, galleries, and a local handicrafts market.
For more shopping, head 10 minutes south of Od City to the Bocagrande Peninsula. This modern neighborhood is where to find Cartagena’s high-rise buildings, luxury hotels, and local beaches. Located on the tip of Bocagrande a block from the historic Hotel Caribe, Pierino Gallo shopping center has become the premier location to purchase leather goods, world-famous Colombian emeralds, and Colombian coffee.
Whatever the day brings, be sure to save time for a good meal. Dining out is a major form of entertainment in Cartagena. Cuisine is a fusion of intense flavors from Arab, Spanish, Caribbean, African, and South American cultures. Tran an arepa de huevo, a deep-fried patty made of yellow-corn dough and stuffed with egg, or a carimõla, a fried potato-shaped yucca fritter filled with cheese and meat. And of course plenty of refreshing tropical fruit is on hand, often sold by palenqueras, the name for the women who carry fruit in bowls on their heads.
Ramble down cobblestoned streets under flowering balconies and bask in the warm glow of colonial and Spanish architecture. Explore Old City on your own after the relaxing horse-drawn carriage ride.
Visit the San Felipe Fortress and other key points of historical interest in Cartagena. Witness the infamous dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition and tour 17th-century masterpieces of Spanish architecture and engineering.
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