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Flights to Cartagena

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Flights to Cartagena

Panorámica de Cartagena vista desde arriba

Gabriel García Márquez said in 1976, "in Latin America there is a country that is not made of land, but water, which is the Caribbean." If that country had a capital, it would be Cartagena: the 'Heroic City'. Declared by Unesco to be a World Heritage Site, the city has 485 years of history and about one million people live there.

Adolfo Meisel, an authority on Caribbean issues (in addition to a well-known economist in Colombia), mentions three great reasons that make Cartagena special: first, it is the best example that has been preserved of what the fortified Spanish Caribbean of late 18th century used to be. That colonial charm was an inspiration for the Spanish poet Jorge Guillén, who speaks of the city in these terms: "ante el mar la ceñuda fortaleza que los tesoros guarda."

Panorámica de atardecer en Cartagena

Second, an important part of Colombia's history has been defined in it. November 11th, the day of Cartagena's independence, is the only local commemoration that is a national holiday.

Third, there is its cultural vitality. The cultural program of the year includes the International Music Festival and the Hay Festival in January, the International Film Festival in March or the National Beauty Pageant in November. Business, entrepreneurship and creativity summits cover the whole season and around 350,000 people arrive by sea every year in approximately 200 cruises that dock at the port. Throughout the year, the city's agenda is constantly renewed.

Free Cartagena

Why does Cartagena de Indias commemorate its independence from Spain on November 11th, 1811, and not July 20th, 1810, like the rest of the country? The historian Germán Mejía Pavony reflects on this event.

Free from Spain, certainly, but also free from all ties: surprising as it may seem, this also has to do with Bogotá, a city once called Santafé and the head of the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada, which is currently the capital of Colombia.

It's also important to say that the independence movement was not aimed against the King's representatives stationed in the city, who had ceased to govern it months before, but against the Governing Junta that the Creoles of Cartagena installed on May 22nd, 1810. This call for freedom of the province was only possible by the actions of pardos and mestizos who, led by the momposinos, spoke out against the aristocracy of Cartagena.

What happened initially in Cartagena with the autonomous government boards also happened in Pamplona, ​​Socorro, Cali, Medellín, Nóvita, Mariquita, Tame and many other cities head of their provinces. These meetings gave rise to several republics, with their corresponding minutes, constitutions and government institutions.

Vista diurna de las calles en Cartagena

Then what happened in Cartagena? La Provincia, which at that time congregated about 78 populated sites, was composed of the departments of Cartagena, Mompós, San Benito Abad, Tolú and Simití. Its boundaries included the islands of San Andrés and Providencia, as well as the coasts of Mosquitia in what is now Nicaragua.

Cartagena, the city, ruled this territory for its benefit and was sure to make this clear when, in 1808, the Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and the captivity of Ferdinand VII in Bayonne resulted not only in the independence war of Spain against France, but also in a vacuum of power that was used by the American provinces to claim sovereignty over their own nations and territories.

The elite, stationed in the port and represented by the cabildo, questioned the legitimacy of the Regency Council on May 22nd, 1810. They informed this to the governor, Francisco Montes, who accepted the new formula of government: fidelity to the king and an autonomous government assembly composed of him and two council members.

This arrangement lasted no more than a few weeks. The governor was reluctant to share his authority, and this led to the creation of a movement the following June 14th, which subsequently took away all of his power, then imprisoned and deported him to Havana.

José María García de Toledo, an aristocrat from Cartagena, was the one who commanded the rebellion, but his success was only possible due to the support he received from the people of the Getsemaní suburb, led by Pedro Romero and Joaquín Solano.

Shortly after, on August 14th, the "Supreme Provincial Junta of Cartagena de Indias" was organized: it was composed of the entire town council as well as six other deputies elected by the people and the delegates of Mompós, Simití, San Benito Abad and Tolú. Its first president was García de Toledo.

Mompós did not recognize the Junta. This river port knew before Cartagena did what had happened in Santafé (Bogotá). Filled with reasons to fight against the hegemony of Cartagena, and doubts before the Junta because they saw in it a convenient arrangement for the city's elite, on August 5th, 1810, the momposinos proclaimed their absolute independence both from Spain and from any other territory. Cartagena’s response was overwhelming: its armies ended the attempt of freedom and independence made by the momposinos between January and February 1811.

Despite this, dissatisfaction continued and gave rise to two factions: an autonomist one, who was satisfied with the Junta, and a radical one, who continued to seek the absolute independence of Spain.

Finally, the radicals led by the momposinos and accompanied by pardos and mestizos in the province would give rise to Cartagena's true proclamation of independence on November 11th, 1811. It was a revolution against the port's aristocracy, because at the time there was no Spanish government in the province.

Radicals controlled the Republic of Cartagena de Indias from that November 11th until December 17th, 1814. Bliss was set to last until December 1815, when 'La Heróica' was besieged by Pablo Murillo. By 1821, the Spaniards finally withdrew entirely and Cartagena was incorporated as a province to the nascent Republic of Colombia.

Gabo's Cartagena

Vista diurna de articulo histórico en Cartagena

In Gabriel García Márquez's novels there are clues that hint his passage through the city. Books such as Love in the Time of Cholera and Of Love and Other Demons bring the streets through which the writer wandered to life, as well as the characters that strolled through them, leaving a mark in the Nobel Prize winner. A tour around a city about which Gabo said: "I really love being in Cartagena [...] There I have a nice simple cozy house, overlooking the sea and the old city. It's like it's my ecological medium."

 

Calle de las Damas 

Gabo arrived in Cartagena in 1948 and looked for his friends at the student residence Hotel Suiza, located in Calle de las Damas. Since he did not find them, he had to spend the night in Parque de Bolívar, where he was arrested for violating the curfew enforced in the country after the assassination of political leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in Bogotá, which devastated the capital.

Portal de los dulces

Vista de mercado en ruta Gabo, Cartagena

In the novel Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabo called this place "El Portal de los Escribanos" (The Arcade of the Scribes): this was where Florentino Ariza first confessed his love for Fermina Daza. As the name suggests, el Portal de los Dulces (The Arcade of Sweets) is an ideal place to taste candy made from tamarind, coconut, sesame, guava and other flavors that the author described in his novel: "the sellers of sweets who shouted over the din of the crowd: pineapple sweets for your sweetie, coconut candy is dandy, brown sugar loaf for your sugar."

Gabriel García Márquez House

Located at the corner of Calle Zerrezuela, in front of the Hotel Sofitel Legend Santa Clara, Gabo's residence is the place where he spent a few months before leaving for Mexico City in 2014. It is a huge house with high coral walls, designed by the architect Rogelio Salmona.

Santa Clara Convent

Vista interna de Santa Clara en Cartagena

Built in the 17th century and originally a convent, Santa Clara is now a hotel. Apart from being one of the settings of the novel Of Love and Other Demons, the Santa Clara convent used to be the place where the offices of Legal Medicine, the workshop of the School of Fine Arts and the headquarters of the Departmental League of Baseball were located. Only in 1994 was the convent restored and turned into the lodging site it is today.

El Universal

Upon recommendation of author Manuel Zapata Olivella, here is where García Márquez began his journalistic career. For a year and a half, Gabo wrote more than forty articles and fell in love with journalism, which he called "the most beautiful job in the world."

Cartagena's Five Historical Landmarks

485 years old and surrounded by 11 kilometers of walls, Cartagena is considered a Historical and Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO. The colonial churches, ancient palaces and portals have survived the passage of time, the elements of nature, the assault of pirates and the independence riots. This is a tour of the places that have marked the people of Cartagena.

Castle of San Felipe de Barajas

Vista del atardecer en Cartagena

Cartagena was vital for the Spanish Crown due to its privileged position in the Caribbean and its transatlantic trade. Therefore, to defend the city from possible attacks, this military complex was built. Despite what its name suggests, no royal members lived in the Castle. Like the rest of the structure, its main fort was built by African slaves during the 16th and 17th centuries, and was used to watch the sea, as it was set on an elevated site of the coast. The castle is an architectural milestone that took 120 years to be built and that hosts around 400,000 visitors every year.

Convent of Santa Cruz de la Popa

When the Spaniards saw it for the first time, they thought it was the stern of a giant ship ('popa' in Spanish). Hence the name of the hill, which is the highest point of the city and the one with the most dazzling panoramic view of the coast. This was the place where the convent was built at the beginning of the 17th century. Today, the cloister belongs to the Augustinians and visitors can find there a museum of religious art. Its altar is adorned with gold lamellae and, every February 2nd at dawn, the place is visited by the devotees of the Virgin of La Candelaria de la Popa, patron saint of Cartagena.

Cathedral of Santa Catalina de Alejandría

The cathedral took 35 years to be built and its process had several missteps. Between 1577 and 1612, when it was erected, its structure was damaged by pirate attacks and by miscalculations in its design. However, from the beginning this Herrerian-style cathedral has been the religious epicenter of the city and is currently the seat of the archbishopric of Cartagena. Santa Catalina de Alejandría is the largest church in Cartagena. Its tower, which stands out in the skyline of the old town, was designed in 1921 by the French architect Gastón Lelarge when the temple was remodeled.

Palacio de la Inquisición

Vista interna de la inquisición en Cartagena

A colonial house with a baroque portal and wooden balconies was the seat of the Spanish Inquisition in the city for more than two hundred years. Its permanent exhibition shows the torture ponies, the shackles, whips and other tools with which this institution punished anyone who was accused of heresy through the Mailbox of Ignominy (a small window on one of the walls of the palace where anonymous accusations were placed). Furthermore, since 1984, the Palace also hosts the Historical Archive of Cartagena.

San Pedro Claver Parish

Atardecer en San Pedro Claver, Cartagena

This national monument is named in honor of the Spanish saint who dedicated his life to alleviating the suffering of the African slaves of Cartagena in the 17th century. Because of his calling and his love of neighbor, he is also known as "the slave of slaves", and his remains rest on the altar. The Parish was built from 1580 to 1654 and, before reaching its current name–a tribute to the saint canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII–, it was first called San Juan de Dios and then San Ignacio de Loyola.

5 Things to Do in Getsemaní

Some used to refer to Getsemaní as 'el arrabal' ('the slum'), because it was one of the first neighborhoods to be built outside the urban layout of Cartagena in the 16th century. For others, it was where the "free from colors" lived: a place where neither race nor social class nor creed mattered. This is a walk through the neighborhood's diversity and everlasting cultural commitment.

Six Secrets Hidden in the Walls of Cartagena

Vista diurna de escultura en Cartagena

More recommended places to visit

Flights to Cartagena

Comida típica en Cartagena, mote de queso

The Historical Center and the area of ​​Bocagrande are ideal places to try not only Cartagena's cuisine but also a variety of international restaurants. As for desserts, the Portal de los Dulces is the place to go: there you can taste traditional rice with milk, as well as the well known 'cocadas' made of different fruit flavors such as coconut, pineapple, papaya, tamarind, grapefruit, among others.

Restaurants

Alma Restaurant

Vista interna de Restaurante Alma en Cartagena

Eating at Alma is not only a gastronomic adventure; it is also an architectural and a historical experience. Its location in the colonial city allows diners to admire century-old streets and houses, including the one where the restaurant is located, which was built in the 17th century and which also works as a hotel. The dishes of its chef, Heberto Eljach, such as the Coco Woods ceviche (fish marinated with lemon, coconut milk, onion, chili and served with green plantain), the seafood casserole 'a la cartagenera' (with lobster, clams, fish, squid, octopus, mussels with coconut milk and lobster cream) or the sancocho made of the day's catch are a tribute to the traditional flavors of La Heróica.

Location: Calle de la Universidad # 36-44

Moshi Restaurant

Vista interna de Restaurante Moshi en Cartagena

This place aims for the fusion of typical flavors of Cartagena with traditional Asian cuisine. Some of its signature dishes are the tataki salmon, the spicy crab, the tempura shrimp, the chaufa lobster and the ramen. However, the most recommended experience is the omakase tasting menu: comprised of seven stages, it recreates a trip from the Caribbean Sea to Japan thanks to the synergy of its ingredients and recipes. A modern space in the heart of the historic city, which has an open-air lounge to enjoy the breeze of the coast and a sushi bar in which drinks such as the Moshi Moshi cocktails (sake, vodka, lychee liquor, basil, lemon and ginger) and the Vernita Green (tequila, kiwi, cilantro, yellow lemon, kaffir lime and mint) stand out.

Location: Calle 38 # 8-19

Typical Dishes

Comida típica en Cartagena, arepa de huevo
  • Posta cartagenera: posta (beef cut obtained from the lower part of the hindquarters), prepared with a mix of onion, garlic, black sauce, cumin and raw cane sugar or brown sugar.
  • Arepa de huevo: arepa (round dough made with corn), filled with an egg and fried.
  • Mote de queso: soup prepared with yam (tuber) and costeño cheese (a type of salted Colombian cheese), garlic, onion and lemon.
  • Coconut rice: white rice with coconut milk and raisins.

Flights to Cartagena

Better known as 'Leo', Leonor is the owner of two well-known restaurants in Bogotá: "Leo" and "Misia", the first of which was recognized as the best in Colombia and one of the 50 best restaurants in Latin America, according to the 50 Best count. This chef from Cartagena has devoted much of her life to creating proposals based on local cuisine, reinterpreting the most traditional dishes of Colombian popular food and working hand in hand with the indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in the vindication of gastronomic traditions as a social and economic engine through her project: Funleo. 

Flights to Cartagena

Comida típica en Cartagena, carimañola

This type of yuca frying, similar to a croquette, can be made with meat or cheese and is usually accompanied by a sauce called suero costeño (similar to sour cream) or a bit of spicy sauce.

For 10 Carimañolas

Ingredients:

  • 750 grams of peeled yuca

  • Oil

  • 6 finely chopped Creole peppers

  • 1 finely chopped tomato

  • 1 finely chopped onion

  • 500 grams of ground beef

  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  1. Cook the yucca in salted water until soft.

  2. Drain it well and grind it into a puree.

  3. Cook the ground meat in water, drain well and let it cool.

  4. Heat a little oil in a pan and make a sauce with the chili, tomato, onion, salt and pepper. Add the meat, mix well and check the seasoning.

  5. Take portions of the yuca dough, press its center with one finger and add a little meat mixture.

  6. Heat the oil on high heat and fry the carimañolas until they are golden brown.

  7. Place them on absorbent paper to remove excess fat and serve.

Flights to Cartagena

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Relevant data

Airport

Rafael Núñez International Airport

Language

Spanish

Currency

Colombian peso

Average temperature

82.0ºF

Transport - Transcaribe

Monday to Friday: 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturdays: 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sundays and Bank Holidays: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Each ticket costs 2,300 COP (0.62 USD).

Taxi

Minimum rate: 6,700 COP (2.10 USD). Rate to the airport: 11,000 COP (3.46 USD). Rate per hour: 26,000 COP (8,18 USD).