Cartagena now has its writer
Yes, there are beaches here
Compared to the city, these are not its strongest point. However, the Caribbean is the Caribbean. From Cartagena it’s easy to reach some of the closest beaches. Bocagrande is the busiest, La Boquilla or El Laguito the most peaceful, although slightly further away. If you’re looking for white sand, try Barú in the south of the city.
Cartagena, before being Cartagena, was Calamarí, ‘crab’ in the indigenous language. Today you can find out about its pre-Columbian history at the Zenu Gold Museum, in Plaza de Bolívar, where craftsmanship and goldsmithing works from that age are on display. The city as we know it was founded in 1533 by Pedro de Heredia, although he was helped by India Catalina who worked as his interpreter. A statue at the entrance to the Old City remembers the young native girl.
Within the city walls is the historic centre, a place where you can walk amongst colonial houses with yellow and pastel-coloured facades, most of which are between four and five hundred years old, or visit its numerous squares and churches. The oldest is the church and convent of Santo Domingo, whose construction began at the end of the 16th century, almost at the same time as the city walls, although these were finished almost two centuries later.
Get dirty from head to toe
40 kilometres from Cartagena is Totumo, a small volcano that is just 20 metres high. Wooden steps lead into the crater, which is a tiny mud bath that can hold ten people. You come out dirty, but supposedly healthier thanks to its therapeutic properties.