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Cartagena, Colombia

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Featured Places

Plaza de los Coches

Plaza de los Coches

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People Walking in Cartagena

People Walking in Cartagena

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Plaza de Santa Teresa

Plaza de Santa Teresa

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When it was founded in 1533 by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Heredia, Cartagena was the only port on the South American mainland. Gold and silver looted from indigenous peoples passed through here en route to Spain, making Cartagena an obvious target for pirates. The most destructive of these was Sir Francis Drake, who in 1586 torched 200 buildings, including the cathedral, and made off for England with more than 100,000 gold ducats. Cartagena's magnificent city walls and countless fortresses were erected to protect its riches, as well as to safeguard the most important African slave market in the New World. The Ciudad Amurallada attracts many to Cartagena, but it actually comprises a small section of this city of half a million. Most of Cartagena's hotels and restaurants are in the Bocagrande district, an elongated peninsula where high-rise hotels overlook a long, gray-sand beach. - Copyright © 2014 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Things You Can't Miss

Place
A Sense of History Atop Ancient Walls
A Sense of History Atop Ancient Walls

Stroll the broad fortifications around the World Heritage site old town with its narrow streets and lively plazas. Don’t miss the lovely clock tower.

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Maxime Dube/Alamy

Place
16th-Century Fort Watches Over the Coastline
16th-Century Fort Watches Over the Coastline

Taxi up to Castillo San Felipe de Barajas and explore its arched passageways and ramparts where cannons still point toward the Caribbean Sea.

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Travel Ink/Getty Images

Place
Getsemani: Cartagena’s Liveliest District
Getsemani: Cartagena’s Liveliest District

Once run-down, this revitalized area south of El Centro boasts boutique hotels and some of the city’s most popular restaurants and music clubs.

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Michelle Chaplow/Alamy

Place
Want a Great Beach? Head to Playa Blanca
Want a Great Beach? Head to Playa Blanca

Escape the city’s so-so beaches by taking a short boat ride to this excellent stretch of sandy shore. Book through your hotel to avoid tour scams.

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LOOK Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH/Alamy

Place
Two Different Museums — Both Worth Your Time
Two Different Museums — Both Worth Your Time

Learn about colonial-era persecution at the grim Inquisition Palace; cheer up again by marveling at the glittering exhibits in nearby Gold Museum.

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Image Credit

Alex Segre/Alamy

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