TOP SITES ON HISTORICAL CARTAGENA TOURS

About Cartagena

Historical Cartagena de Indias was founded by conquistador Don Pedro de Heredia in 1533.  As the wealthiest port    in Spain’s colonies, Cartagena attracted scores of pirates and corsairs who continually attempted to lay siege to it. Since Cartagena required substantial fortification the famous fortified walls were commissioned to the best military engineers available. Finally, after two hundred years of devoted work, there were almost 11 kilometres of the historical walls surrounding Cartagena and the magnificent Castillo de San Felipe fortress.

The worst assault on Cartagena -The Battle of Cartagena- occurred in 1741 when 23,600 troops and 186 ships of American and British forces attacked. Only 3000 troops and six ships repelled them in an epic battle that lasted five cruel weeks.  Seventy years later Cartagena fought for independence from Spain and succeeded after six years of horrendous warfare. Remnants of all this historical years are still present throughout the historical districts of the city. That’s why Cartagena offers so many historical tour sites.

In 1984 Cartagena was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Cartagena’s outstanding colonial architecture is impressive to visitors who feel the past as they tour the exceptional tour sites. Added to Cartagena’s historical tour attractions are fine dinning restaurants, culinary tours, luxury hotels, scuba diving tours, party tours and an amazing night life. For an exclusive cultural tour experience in the Caribbean, Cartagena is a must-see.

 

EXPLORE A HISTORICAL SITE

San Felipe Castle

Historical evidence proves Cartagena de Indias was the most strategic and wealthiest port in the Caribbean. The need for Cartagena’s military fortification was undeniable. As the most impressive historical tour site in Cartagena, “Castillo de San Felipe” is the greatest castle-fortress ever built by the Spaniards in any of their conquered territories. The original fort was built in 1630 but by 1657 the construction of a much bigger one was commissioned and in 1762 an even larger extension was added. This Cartagena historical tour site was so secure that despite numerous attempts from pirates, corsairs, and even complete armadas, it was never taken by force. The breath-taking historical castle has such magnitude that it still dominates a significant section of Cartagena’s landscape. This historical tour site should be your first tour choice if you truly want to immerse into the historical ambience that Cartagena offers.

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Through an elaborate array of tunnels linked to tactical spots within the structure to supply war provisions, facilitate operations, and enable communications throughout the entire fort, this fine example of colonial military engineering is definitely the one historical tour site you shouldn’t miss when traveling to Cartagena.

* Hours: Every Day 8 am to 6 pm * Price: Adults – 17.000 COP (5.8 US ) Children – 8.000 COP ( 2.75 US )

				

Looking up onto San Felipe Castle, which you can visit as one of the most popular Things To Do in Cartagena

Convento de La Popa

To enjoy Cartagena’s best view of you must tour this historical tour siteEstablished in 1607 by Augustine priests as the “Convento de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria”, the initially small wooden chapel was later rebuilt as an eye-catching historical building when the hill was fortified during the military fortification period.

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Located on the highest point in Cartagena known as “El Cerro de La Popa,” this historical tour site has the best all-around view of Cartagena. The convent’s colloquial name literally means “Convent of the Stern,” after the 150m-high hill’s resemblance to a Spanish galleon’s back end. This historical Cartagena tour site also offers great attractions like a colonial indoor patio displaying colourful exotic Colombian flowers, a beautiful religious image of La Virgen de la Candelaria, a frightening effigy of Father Alonso García de Paredes, a priest who was speared in Cartagena for spreading the lord’s word.

* Hours: 9am – 7pm  Tue-Sat, noon-8pm Sun * Price: Adult COP12.000 (4.15 US)     COP 8.000 (2.75 US)

				

Overhead view of the Convento de La Popa, which you can visit as one of the most captivating Things To Do in Cartagena

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Originally built in 1539, Santo Domingo is the oldest church in Cartagena. After being destroyed in a fire this historical tour site was rebuilt in 1552 at the location where the tour site stands today.

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This historical Cartagena tour site was designed with a particularly wide central nave and a heavy roof, but it seems calculations weren’t accurate since the vault began to crack shortly after its completion. Substantial supports where added to reinforce the walls and structure. There where also problems with the bell tower, which is noticeably uneven. Despite the issues the building is incredibly attractive and the interior is ample and distinguished. As you tour this historical site you can see a figure of Christ carved in wood and the altar floor is tiled with old tombstones. This historical tour site was formerly open only during religious service, but there’s now self-guided audio tours available.

* Hours: 9am – 7pm  Tue-Sat, noon-8pm Sun * Price: Adult COP12.000 (4.15 US)     COP 8.000 (2.75 US)

				

Exterior of Iglesia de Santo Domingo, which you can visit as one of the many interesting Things To Do in Cartagena

Catedral de Cartagena

This historical cathedral’s official name is “Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Santa Catalina de Alejandría.” The construction of this historical tour site started in 1575, but it was badly damaged when held for ransom by Francis Drake’s cannons in 1586, therefore it wasn’t finalized until 1612.

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Between 1912 and 1923 other modifications where commissioned and the dome on the tower was added. This historical tour site is well worth a visit, but keep in mind that this tour site is still a religious temple, so please be respectful when you tour it. You can also take a 25-minute self-guided audio tour.

				

Nighttime view of the Catedral de Cartagena, which you can visit during the day as one of the many Things To Do in Cartagena

Torre del Reloj Público

This historical tour site known as “La Torre del Reloj” has been the main entrance to the walled city since the early 17th century. Built between 1601 and 1631, its one of the oldest tour sites in Cartagena.

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Throughout the years, the clock has been successively replaced for one that works and the structure has been repaired too. This historical tour site has also survived multiple battles, attacks and even a massive fire that destroyed a vast section of Cartagena. The clock tower is of free access and an ideal tour site to start your historical explorations of Cartagena.

* Hours: 24/7 * Price:  Free

				

Torre del Reloj Público at night

VISIT A MUSEUM

Entrance of The Palace of the Inquisition, which you can visit as one of the Things to do in Cartagena
The Palace of the Inquisition

As a great historical tour site, Cartagena’s Palace of the Inquisition is a classic example of colonial architecture. Even though in the past this tour site housed the torture chambers of the dreaded inquisition, the historical museum is one of the most intriguing historical tour sites in Cartagena.

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Around the corner from the entrance to this historical Cartagena tour site there’s a wall that has a small window with a cross. That’s where Cartagena’s doomed offenders were accused so the Holy Office could initiate proceedings for crimes like magic, witchcraft, blasphemy and subversion. Culprits were condemned to slow and painful deaths and executed publicly in a process known as an auto-da-fé. You can tour the “torture section” displaying the methods of cruelty and the actual instruments applied for this purpose. This rare Cartagena historical tour site also houses pre-Columbian pottery, objects dating from colonial and independence times such as weapons, paintings, furniture and church bells.

  • Location: Plaza de Bolivar   Address: Calle 34 3-11, Cartagena – Col
  • Hours: Mon-Sat: 09:00-18:00  | Sun & Holidays: 10:00-16:00
  • Price: Adults: Cop 13,000 (4.5 USD) | Children: Cop 9,000 (3.1 USD)

 
				

Exterior of Convento de San Pedro Claver, which you can visit as one of the many Things To Do in Cartagena

Convento de San Pedro Claver

This Cartagena historical tour site was founded as a convent by Jesuit priests in the early 17th century. Originally known as San Ignacio de Loyola, the name was later changed honoring Spanish monk Pedro Claver (1580–1654), who died in Cartagena. As the “Apostle of the Blacks” or the “Slave of the Slaves,” Pedro Claver spent his life in Cartagena ministering to the African slaves. He was the first to be canonized in Cartagena in 1888.

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This historical Cartagena tour site is a three-story museum surrounding a tree-filled courtyard. Tour exhibits include religious art and pre-Columbian ceramics, a new section devoted to Afro-Caribbean contemporary pieces including Haitian paintings and African masks.

This historical Cartagena church has a magnificent stone facade with stained-glass windows and a high altar made of Italian marble. San Pedro Claver’s remains are kept in a glass coffin in the altar and his skull is visible, making it a historical Cartagena tour with a truly impressive personality.

* Hours: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm * Price: Adult COP 8,000 (2.75 US)   Child COP 6,000 (2.00 US)

 
				

View from street of Casa de Rafael Núñez, which you can visit as one of the most interesting Things To Do in Cartagena

Casa de Rafael Núñez

As a tranquil historical Cartagena tour site, this 19th century estate was the residence of former president and constitutionalist Rafael Núñez, who in 1886 implemented the National Constitution of Colombia used until 1991. As one of Colombia’s most influential historical poet, lawyer, and politician of the 19th century, he also wrote the words of the national anthem.

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With an elegant outdoor covered dining room, a huge balcony and a gorgeous garden, the peaceful white-and-green historical wooden mansion is a must-see Cartagena historical tour site. The museum features some of the former president’s manuscripts, documents, and personal belongings. This historical tour site preserves and promotes the historical value and legacy of Rafael Núñez.

Phone: (57-5) 660 9058 *  Hours: Tue – Fri  9:00 am  5: pm   Sat – Sun 10:00 am to 4:00 pm    Closed Mondays

 * 13-min. walk from ???. Turn into ?? Road, and then ???> * Can be accessed by XXXX Line and YYYY Line buses. * All taxis know the location. Simply tell the drive, "???"

Inside the Museo de Arte Moderno, which you can visit as one of the Things To Do in Cartagena

Museo de Arte Moderno

Founded in 1979, Cartagena’s renovated Modern Art museum lives in the former historical Customs House built in the 17th century. This Cartagena tour site preserves and displays diverse forms of visual arts like paintings and sculpture, and it also has a roll in educating the community.

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The historical museum exhibits Latin-American art collections dating from the 1950’s era, which have been renewed throughout the years. It also displays masterpieces by Cartagena’s Alejandro Obregón and Enrique Grau, two extraordinary artists who left significant legacies upon their deaths.

 

  * Hours: Mon – Fri 9:00 to 12:00 pm and 3:pm to 7:pm Sat – Sun 4:pm to 9:pm * Price: Adults: $8.000 COP (2.75 USD) Minors 12 and under; $4.000 COP (1.4 USD)

				

An intriquing exhibit at the Museo del Oro Zenú, which you can visit as one of the intriquing Things To Do in Cartagena

Museo del Oro Zenú

Gold has been essential to Cartagena since its foundation in 1533. Cartagena’s “Museo del Oro Zenú” resembles a much smaller version of Bogotá’s historical gold museum. However, it offers a glittering historical tour through collections of native gold relics, pre-Columbian pottery, and archaeological artifacts from the Zenú culture.

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This historical tour site tells stories of the indigenous settlements that inhabited areas near Cartagena before the Spanish conquest. Tour the historical worlds of El Dorado in Cartagena’s air-conditioned and free gold museum.

* Phone: +57 (5) 660 0778 * Hours: Tue – Sat 10:00 a.m. to 1: pm and 2:00 p.m. to 5: pm     Closed Mondays * Price:  Free