An evening walk along Cartagena’s walls is one of the most popular things to do in Cartagena. As one of the only walled cities still intact in South America, Cartagena draws crowds from all over the world to see its charming colonial streets and long-standing defense structures.
Construction of the walls started in the 17th century in an attempt to ward off pirates and invading armies. It was originally built in sections, which you can see by the uneven heights and thickness of the walls. The walls of the city were originally right on the water and the land that you currently see between the city walls and the water is actually reclaimed land. In fact, almost the entire area between the historic center and Bocagrande is made up of landfill except for a small strip of land.
The original section was Baluarte de Santodomingo which is now the site of the famous Cafe del Mar. The location of this first bastion was important since it blocked the land approach from Bocagrande. This was the same place where Sir Francis Drake’s troops attacked the city in 1586. The second section of the wall, the twin Bastions of San Lucas and Santo Catalina, protected the city from the other overland crossing which is now the neighborhood of El Cabrero. This section was completed in 1638.