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  • Address: Av. Pedro de Heredia at Carrera 17
  • Hours: Open Daily, 8am-6pm
  • Admission: 16,000 pesos (<$9 USD)

Cartagena ATTRACTIONS See all

San Felipe de Barajas Castle

Cartagena’s strategic significance as Europe’s conquest of the Americas intensified cannot be overstated. Some say that if the British had won the 1741 Battle of Cartagena, that South America would now speak English. They didn’t, largely because of massive El Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, the largest and most formidable Spanish colonial fortress in the hemisphere.

Begun in 1536, almost immediately after the conquistadors arrived, the massive megastructure sits atop San Lazaro Hill, with flawless views across the harbor. Bristling with cannons and other armaments, it was enlarged and re-fortified in 1657 and 1763 as part of an ongoing arms race against other European powers. A marvel of military engineering, the compound’s angles and parapets offer maximum coverage, and are connected by a warren of secret tunnels threading the mountain of stone.  

It’s worth hiring a guide to explain the significance of the structure, though the beautiful views from the gracefully aging old turrets are stunning in and of themselves. Come close to sunset, when trumpet players take advantage of the crumbling structure’s acoustics.

Just outside the fortress is the Old Shoe Monument, a popular photo op that commemorates a poem by Cartagena wordsmith Luis Carlos Lopez, who famously compared the old city to a worn, but comfortable, pair of shoes.

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

Cartagena City Tour: History, Culture and UNESCO World Heritage Sites

4.5 star rating: Recommended 4 Reviews

Calling all history buffs! Take part in a historical tour of Cartagena for a brief overview of the city's most famous historical landmarks. Visit the Castle ...  Read more

Location: Cartagena, Colombia
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $65.99

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