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The walls are an 11-kilometer cordon that runs through the Historic Center of the city. Photo: Flickr
The walls are an 11-kilometer cordon that runs through the Historic Center of the city. Photo: Flickr

The history behind the walls of Cartagena

The walls of Cartagena are fortifications declared a World Cultural Heritage Site.

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The walls that stand in the center of Cartagena, Colombia were built to instill fear in enemies and keep them away. Today, the walls are a symbol that invites travelers to enter a city full of history.

They are the best preserved and most complete fortification in South America, and one of the best wall structures in the world. In 2022, they run 11 kilometers and are preserved as one of the most important attractions of Cartagena, declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. 

In addition, the walls are a priceless treasure that have not only withstood the attacks of invaders, but also time and nature.

The walls were a project that took almost two centuries to build and were completed in 1796 to defend the city from the continuous pirate attacks it suffered. Their construction began on Sept. 8, 1614, after the attack of the legendary Sir Francis Drake, and by order of King Philip III. 

"The architect of Italian descent, Carlos de Roda Antonelli, was assigned as the one in charge of the first stage of construction. It took them 15 years to finish the initial part in which 15 bastions were erected with a clear influence of the Italian style," historian German Bustamante explained to Colombian magazine DONDE.

Bustamante also said that "the line of defense was complemented by the magnificent and imposing Castillo de San Felipe, as well as by a set of submarine breakwaters located on the island of Tierrabomba. The last segments added to this walled cordon are the forts erected in Bocachica and the stone wall erected in the sector of Getsemaní."

More than 200 years after the completion of the work, the walls continue to frame the history of what was the main port of Latin America, where the greatest riches collected by the Spanish Crown were sent back to Europe. It's a place full of tradition and history. 

How to get to the walls? 

The Walls of Cartagena are located in the Historic Center of the city protecting its northern area. The Historic Center is 15 minutes by car from the Rafael Núñez International Airport, and 45 minutes from the Cartagena Transportation Terminal.

The tour is free and open to the public at all times. 

 

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