February 15, 2014
Visiting Cartagena's Historic Wall
As I explained in my first blog about a recent trip to Cartagena, Colombia, this area was a rich source of gold and other precious metals and the Bay of Cartagena was the starting point for ships filled with such treasures heading to Spain. Consequently, it became an attractive target for pirates and other marauding bands to frequently attack and plunder. After many years of turbulence, Spain's king ordered that the city be fortified by a massive wall. The project took a couple of centuries, but when complete, the existing city was completely surrounded and quite safe. Today, Cartagena's historic wall is a popular gathering spot for locals and a "must see" for tourists. I had a wonderful time walking upon it.
1 The wall around Cartagena was built to protect the city from marauding pirates and other plunderers. The Spanish started the wall in the 17th century and it took more than 200 years to complete.
2 The wall is now a tourist attraction and a great place to take hikes, runs, and strolls, weather permitting. Along the wall are lookouts, such as this tower.
3 You get to the top of the wall by ascending ramps spaced along the inside. Access is pretty easy.
4 This view gives a good indication of the thickness of the wall and its beautiful construction. The view on both sides is very interesting - the old city inside and the Caribbean on the other.
5 Inside the wall there are ammunition storage places housing secret passages. The wall was built by slaves and the stone is primarily coral stone harvested from the coral reefs in the sea.
6 Many of the large, flat areas atop the wall are now used by hotels and private parties for big entertaining events. There are a few cafes on top of the wall also.
7 The wall is quite high in some areas and the views into the city - the old town - are spectacular.
8 I loved looking at the colorful and varied architecture - houses, public buildings, churches, etc.
9 Two joggers enjoyed an early morning run. One must rise with the sun, exercise before the hot sun comes up, and then retreat inside to avoid the intense heat. Even in February, the temperatures rise at midday to over 100ºF.
10 At 7am the streets were still pretty deserted.
11 The ocean seemed calm to me, but everyone said it was a bit turbulent!
12 There is a rental place along the wall that provides Segways, bikes, and motor bikes.
13 This is the famous seaside house of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia's Nobel Prize winning author of extraordinary fiction. I hope all of you have read One Hundred Years of Solitude. During my stay in Cartagena, I often thought of the Buendia family in that novel.
14 I have never met Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but I wish I had. Many millions of copies of his books, including Love in the Time of Cholera, have been sold in many, many languages. He is known affectionately as Gabo throughout Latin America.
15 This building is now a hotel. Notice the beautiful brick surface on the top of this section of wall.
16 Parts of the wall are still equipped with cannons, pointed at the sea. This massive wall was strong enough to withstand the return fire of cannon balls and musket fire.
17 Some parts of the wall have roofs creating lovely areas to take a nap or shelter the homeless.
18 We saw a few sleeping individuals.
19 I wore a large Panama hat to shield me from the hot sun. Even in the early morning the sun can do severe damage. These cannons haven't fired in quite some time.
20 There are some major entrances pierced into the wall from the outside, giving access to a highway that runs along the sea from the old town to the new city.
21 This is the Circo Teatro (Circus Theater), which was built in the early 20th century. Its bright yellow facade now leads to nowhere.
22 The wooden structure, now in ruins, once housed the Cartagena Circus.
23 This box of fruit was outside a private home - obviously a delivery - I was tempted!!