At the northeastern corner of the old walled city is Cartagena’s grandest arcade, stretching with imperial purpose from Santa Clara to Santa Catalina Fortress. Behind the 47 painted archways are a string colorful souvenir shops, well stocked with all the emeralds, Botero knockoffs, hammocks, hats and molas that your coworkers and catsitters might desire. These unusually proportioned alcoves are interspersed with equally cramped bars, galleries, and other businesses. It’s a fun place to shop and photogenic spot to enjoy, but the rather oppressive barrel ceilings that overarch each vault (boveda) come with a bit of history.

The vaulted alcoves were originally built into the massive sea wall between 1792 and 1796, and at first used to store provisions. They were repurposed during the early 1800s as an incredibly uncomfortable prison. The extent city’s thick walls—up to 15m (50ft) against the sea and its uncertainties—can really be appreciated while you bargain for a new pair of earrings.

Tours & Tickets

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Cartagena City Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 6 Reviews

Enjoy a guided city tour of Cartagena and explore Colombia's most-visited city! Cartagena is known for its laid-back Caribbean vibe mixed with astonishing ...  Read more

Location: Cartagena, Colombia
Duration: 6 hours (approx.)

From USD $98.99

Small-Group City Sightseeing and Walking Tour in Cartagena

3 star rating: Worth doing 4 Reviews

Embark on a small-group sightseeing tour of Cartagena and experience the magnificence of its colonial architecture. Your guide will take you by minivan to this ...  Read more

Location: Cartagena, Colombia
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $28.99

Small-Group Cartagena Segway Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 4 Reviews

Discover the beautiful city of Cartagena on this 1-hour sightseeing Segway tour! Ride around the El Centro neighborhood (the ‘old town’) as you admire the ...  Read more

Location: Cartagena, Colombia
Duration: 70 minutes (approx.)

From USD $44.99

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