The Cathedral Santa Catalina de Alejandría is one of the best known within the Historic Center of the city. Photo: Pixabay
The Cathedral Santa Catalina de Alejandría is one of the best-known within the Historic Center of the city. Photo: Pixabay

Three cathedrals that are must-visits in Cartagena

Cartagena is a city with many churches full of history to discover.


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Cartagena is a city with more than 10 churches in the northern zone alone, some of which date back to colonial times, maintaining the legacy of the Catholic religion brought by the Spaniards in the 1600s.

Some of the most important religious sites of the 'Corralito de Piedra' are located within the Historic Center. These are three majestic cathedrals worth seeing when visiting the city: 

1. Cathedral Santa Catalina de Alejandría. 

This imposing construction is located in the Plaza de la Proclamación, diagonal to Bolívar Park, and is the episcopal seat of the Archbishop of Cartagena, one of the oldest episcopal seats in the New World.

The cathedral is in the Herrerian style, characteristic of the reign of Philip II, which corresponds to the third and last stage of Spanish Renaissance architecture. It was designed by the master builder Simón González, who used basilicas in Andalusia and the Canary Islands as inspiration, although the current tower was designed by the French architect Gaston Lelarge, the result of a remodeling carried out at the beginning of the 20th century. 

The building has a basilica floor plan, is divided by three naves and a series of chapels adjacent to the nave of the gospel. Its construction began in 1577, replacing the humble cathedral "of straw and reeds." 

The cathedral can be considered one of the oldest in America, contemporary to those in Mexico.

2. Cathedral of the Third Order 

It was built between 1730 and 1735, thanks to the efforts of Governor Antonio de Salas, and was part of the religious complex of the convent of San Francisco, consisting of the church of San Francisco, the cloister and this temple.

Around 1954, its interior was restored. However, its bells, which brought together the people of Cartagena to celebrate the Independence on Nov. 11, 1811, were dismantled.

This church, like that of San Francisco and that of La Trinidad in Getsemaní, is of the type of simple building with a dour exterior appearance. The idea of the time was to invest in a minimum of architecture and a maximum of decoration.

3. Sanctuary of San Pedro Claver 

The San Pedro Claver Church is mostly known for having the remains of Saint Peter in its main altar. It is located in front of the Plaza de la Aduana and belongs to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Cartagena and is administered by the Society of Jesus.

The temple was built between 1580 and 1654 under the parameters of the colonial constructions. It was originally known as the church of San Juan de Dios. Since 1622, it was called the church of San Ignacio de Loyola and nowadays is called San Pedro Claver.

Because of its historical significance, architectural and cultural value, the church was declared a National Monument by decree 1911 on Nov. 2, 1995.


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