Posted by: Gary Guertin | December 8, 2010

18. Panama Canal Cruise–Cartagena, Columbia–Part 1

Hi All,

We now have seen probably the best two Spanish Colonial Cities in the world.  Antiqua, Guatemala is a beautiful small city set in the mountains like a fairyland.  Cartagena, Columbia is a beautiful large city set on the Caribbean like another fairyland.  The two cities left Susy and I with a feeling we had traveled back to the 16th, 17th and 18 centuries and really made this cruise. 

Cartagena was founded in 1533, and gained fame after the mid-16th century when great fleets stopped annually to take on gold and other products to convoy to Spain.  It’s fortresses were build to stave off pirates, French and English ships trying to capture it (the French actually succeeded for some time but were driven away by a tropical epidemic and the English held the city briefly).  Even the Spanish themselves attacked Cartagena when it became a seat of rebellion.  In 1811 Columbia declared its independence from Spain.  The old city, which we visited, has maintained it’s heritage, and when you pass through it’s walls you are taken back 300 years in an instant.  The new Cartagena is skyscrapers, but the old city sits in the middle without aging.  The city has 850,000 people and due to the oil fields in the Magdalena Valley maintains a bustling maritime and industrial center. 

Now my problem is I took 180 photos today.  I’ve gone through them and tried to pick out the best to show you, narrowing it down to 55 photos.  I can’t show you 55, one because it would take forever to put them up on the website, and two because you might not have the time to look at them all.  So here’s what we’re going to do, first let’s look at the port:

IMG_1693 Stitch  

let me move you in closer to the see the old city:


We docked over on the right of that top panoramic photo and leaving the ship we see the usual ship port sign:


and the port sign as we left the terminal and got a short taxi ride to the old city:


Now let’s look at the city wall and one of it’s gates, the main gate we entered first:


That wall is about 50 feet thick as you see when we climbed on top:


and just to let you know we were there:


Next we’ll look at a few of the plaza’s, the larger ones being triangle shaped.  The first is the Plaza Coches, which was colonial Cartagena’s slave market – one of the largest in South America:


next the Plaza de la Aduana (Customs):


and last but not least The Plaza San Pedro Claver:


and a quick look at one of those works of art down the center of the plaza:


I’m only going to show you one church, the Church and Convent of Pedro Claver.  He was a Spanish monk who helped slaves and end slave trade.  He was canonized for his life’s work in the 1800’s.  This is the church he prayed in and the convent where he lived:


Let’s get up close to the alter, and, by the way, Susy was there to pray for us:


Now if you look close at that alter you will see a yellow light under it, that is the saint’s preserved body displayed in a glass coffin:


Next to the Church was a beautiful enclosed garden with the convent where Pedro Claver lived:


and there were parrots:


I’m going to stop here, calling this Part 1.  I promise to end Cartagena with two parts, so until Part 2,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)


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