Cartagena, Colombia popped into my mind today, and I realized it’s been two whole months since our quick trip there just before Christmas. With one day taken up by diving, we had only three days to explore Cartagena – not nearly enough time. There’s so much more we want to see and do there, and we’re looking forward to making a much longer trip and really delving into this magical and mysterious city, the cradle of Colombian independence.

For now, here’s the photographic evidence of our trip to Cartagena.

Quick snapshot from cab window
Also seen from the cab window
Lots of street art everywhere
Some things are the same, wherever you go!
Contented Cartagena cat
Blind man in the door of one of Cartagena’s many beautiful old churches
Beautiful light in the early evening
Sunset on the old wall
Like other cities in Colombia, Cartagena goes all out with the Christmas lights. It was fun seeing all the families out enjoying the lights.
The “Clock Tower” entrance to the old walled city, decked out for Christmas
Another beautiful light display
The street in the historic Getsemani neighborhood where we stayed. It was filled with families hanging out and enjoying each other at all hours of the day and night.
Plaza Trinidad in Getsemani. Every evening it came alive with families out celebrating the holidays and enjoying each other’s company.
Another view of Plaza Trinidad. So much fun energy!
Dancers perform in Bolivar Plaza
“Love should be like coffee: strong, hot, and daily.” TRUTH!
Creative streetfront bar
John with two beautiful palenqueras, ladies of Afro-Caribbean heritage who sell fruit on the streets of Cartagena
In colonial times, door knockers in Cartagena were important signifiers of the families that lived inside. An iguana door knocker was a sign of nobility.
A lion door knocker identified a military officer.
Another wonderful old door. The star-shaped studs indicated the family’s wealth – the more, the richer. Many of the massive doors have a smaller, more utilitarian door cut into them.
Door knockers of sea creatures represented families in the seafood trade
Plaza San Pedro Claver, named after a sainted monk who was also called the “slave of the slaves” for his dedication to helping improve slaves’ lives. The fun sculptures, by Edgardo Carmona, depict daily life in Cartagena.
Cartagena’s only sculpture by renowned Colombian artist Fernando Botero. She’s “La Gordita.”
Colorful street in Getsemani neighborhood
Cartagena’s ultra-modern skyline (the area the locals call “Miami Beach”) from atop the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
The Castillo is steeped in Colombia history, built by the Spanish in the mid-1500s
The Castillo was held by the Spanish, then by French privateers, attacked by the British, and then reclaimed by Spain before Colombia won its independence in 1810.
One final view of the incredible skyline from atop the Castillo




  1. Patricia Powers Reply

    Excellently and entertainingly written, Susan! Cartagena is a beautiful (though Hot) adventure!

  2. Oh my oh my! What a beautiful and fascinating city Cartagena is! I’ve read a few posts about the city before, but this is the first post that I’ve ever stumbled upon where images of the people, the heritage buildings, the modern and old sculptures, and the skyline of Cartagena appear on one blog post. Well done, John and Susan!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Bama! We can’t wait to get back there. We felt like we only skimmed the surface.

  3. Wonderful images and so colorful! I am so keen to see the street arts there as well. I have been wondering about visiting Colombia a lot – looks like a fun country to visit!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Cartagena really is spectacular. I think you’d love Colombia – so far we’ve visited Medellin, Bogota, and Cartagena and all are really distinct, in very cool ways.

  4. Oh memories! I love Cartagena, too. Many of your beautiful photos look familiar. I have lots of door knocker photos, too. I tried to find one for sale and visited many hardware stores, but no one had them for sale.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We saw a few for sale there, in Cartagena. Guess you have to go back 🙂

  5. We spent the month of December, 2014 and part of January, 2015 in Cartagena and loved the city, the architecture, museums, people and beaches. However, Medellin may have a more aggreable climate as the heat and humidity were pretty fierce! Anita

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We agree! Cartagena would probably be our favorite place in Colombia if it weren’t for the heat. A lovely city!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      That was a fun trip! Your comment made me go back and re-read the post 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      It was indeed! Cartagena is a feast for all the senses.

  6. How wonderful that you got to see Cartagena in full Christmas mode. I didn’t know about the significance of the door knockers. Thanks for sharing that info which will make me more observant next time. Great photos!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Oh, I’m sure you’re a wonderfully observant traveler, Henry! Your blog proves that 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

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