Cartagena’s Best Views
No trip to Cartagena is complete without a visit to Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. The massive concrete and brick structure at the top of San Lázaro Hill is the largest Spanish fortress in the Americas. Construction began in 1586, and the fortress became crucial in defending Cartagena from British invasion. Originally the fort was fairly small but it was expanded in 1762 to its current size, which looms over the entire hill. Behind the fort is the peculiar Old Shoes Monument, which was built in honor of Luis Lopez, a famous poet and Cartagena native who wrote that he loved his homeland as much as he loved his old shoes.
For additional panoramic views, take a ride up to Convento de la Popla, the city’s highest point. The hilltop convent was established in 1607 and acted as a fortress during colonial times. A small chapel at the top commemorates the pope’s visit in the 1980s.
If a day of relaxation is called for, you can take a shore excursion to the Rosario Islands. Spend the day touring this beautiful cluster of tiny islands located about 45 minutes from the cruise terminal. The islands are part of a nationally protected park and renowned for their peaceful beaches, coral reefs, and clear eaters, which feature an aquarium with trained dolphins and many varieties of tropical fish and sharks. There are 27 islands in total, of which three belong to the state and the other 24 are private.
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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