Reasons to love Cartagena

A ream of famous phrases from Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez attest to his deep love for Cartagena. Writing about his first visit to the city, he explained: “All it took was one step inside the city walls to see it in all its glory in the mauve light of six in the evening, and I couldn’t contain the feeling that I had been born again”.

A number of his books, including Love in the Time of Cholera and Of Love and Other Demons, are tied to the magic, history and culture of Cartagena. Explore emblematic settings that formed an important part of the life and works of the author, and breathe in all the magic realism that ‘Gabo’ aimed to transmit.

You won’t find anything similar to the unique atmosphere of Cartagena anywhere else in the world. Affable ‘palenquera’ women, dressed in the bright colors of Colombia’s flag, will receive you with a smile and serve you up some delicious local fruit which they carry on their heads. Folkloric dancers will invite you to swing your hips to the rhythms of drums and ‘gaitas’ (a type of flute), while donning a traditional hat. Then, be mesmerized by the colors and designs of a hand woven ‘wayuu’ bag.

Take a stroll to the ancient city walls to enjoy a romantic sunset on one of the bastions or an elegant rooftop – Colombian rum in hand. There’s little doubt that you’ll fall in love with the magical experience that is a stay in Cartagena.

Fall head over heels for its beautiful Andalusian- style balconies, its cobblestone alleys and squares, the warm lighting of its street lamps, the magnificent churches and colorful colonial houses; its old, imposing doors adorned with elaborate knockers, and the 11-kilometer-long, 16th century city walls.

Given the moniker ‘The Heroic’ during the fight for independence, Cartagena was the main port of the New World, a place which pirates and privateers constantly strived to conquer. The ways of life and beliefs of their forefathers still hold strong in the locals, descendants of Spaniards, Africans, Arabs and indigenous tribes, a testament to the cultural riches of the city.