The magnificent fortresses and walls encircling Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are part of a earnestly restored and historically important center showcasing museums, churches, plazas, and shops. These, merged together, create a vibrant and dynamic coastal destination that’s at once surprising, gritty, appealing, and interestingly infectious. The center once attracted pirates going for gold stolen from indigenous people and safeguarded within the walls. The walls also once protected a prominent New World African slave market. Today, Cartagena’s historical remnants blend with an even newer world, one that feels fresh, innovative, and has a lot to offer inquisitive minds.
Visit Barrio San Diego
In the north end of Cartagena is Barrio San Diego, a district filled with peaceful streets and lined with broad colonial homes and large, white-washed, ocher, and blue estates. The neighborhood is an invigorating sight. This up-and-coming district is enjoying true gentrification. Throughout the neighborhood, blooming flowers spill over steep balconies and cracked open doors divulge courtyards thick with lush vegetation. Walking through the barrio, you’ll see a spread of vendors with their wares laid out along street side booths, horse-drawn carriages, pretty, tiled street signs, and local musicians serenading passers by. The local treasure in Barrio San Diego is the plaza, with the School of Fine Arts front and center, situated in a former, historic convent. At the wall’s northern end, The Vaults (Las Bóvedas) draw plenty of attention, 18th century storage rooms created to house military equipment. These rooms are now home to a host of shops geared toward tourists, selling handicrafts and other locally made goods.