An evening walk along Cartagena's walls is one of the most popular things to do in Cartagena. 

 

 A Walk Along the City Walls of Cartagena

 

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.

 

A Walk Along the City Walls of Cartagena

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The final section of the walls to be completed was Las Bovedas.  They were completed in 1799 and were designed as bomb-proof barracks that would protect troops during an attack.  They were later used as a prison.  Now, they are one of the best places to buy souvenirs in Cartagena.  You can read more about shopping in Las Bovedas here.

 

A Walk Along the City Walls of Cartagena

 

Although the walls were penetrated many times throughout history, they still encircle the old city of Cartagena like a mother protecting her child.  As you stroll along the walls, you may notice that all of the sections are named after saints.   Interestingly, the section now known as Bastion de San Ignacio was originally called the Bastion of the Baskets.  The section had to be rebuilt after the Jesuit Church (now the Church of San Pedro Claver) built part of the church and monastery on top of the existing wall.  This seems pretty silly today since it gave invaders an easy target.  They finally resolved the issue when the Jesuit Church built a second wall.  The space in between the two walls is now known as the Callejón de la Ronda.

 

The walls of Cartagena are full of history and for centuries, they were the city’s main defense.  As you stroll along, think about the battles that took place and the lives that were lost to protect the innocent lives within and be grateful for the peace and tranquility we are able to experience today.

 

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