With so many things to do at every port, and never enough time to do it all, seeing the best of every location is easier said than done. When your Panama Canal cruise docks in Cartagena, Colombia, consider these excursions that are rich in history and beautiful in nature.
- The Walled City of Cartagena
As one of the most beautiful cities across South America, the Old City of Cartagena is nicknamed "The Walled City" because of its amazing tall walls, known as Las Murallas, which protect the city from every angle. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this historic center remains a popular hub, featuring restaurants, colorful colonial buildings, and winding streets. This historic attraction was founded in 1533 and much of its architecture, such as the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas and the strong forts of San Fernando and San Jose, still stands tall.
- Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
This historic attraction is a great fortress that was built by the Spanish for protection. It prevented pirates from stealing the city's gold. Many enemies and thieves tried to break it down, destroy it, and turn it into ruins, but all have failed. Today, the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas (Fort of San Felipe) is a prominent aspect of Cartagena's skyline, and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Deemed the largest Spanish fort in the New World, a visit to the Fort of San Felipe will leave you impressed. Marvel in this testament to Spanish military engineering — or just enjoy the panoramic views it affords.
- La Popa Monastery
Still inhabited by monks and built in the 1600s, La Popa Monastery sits atop a hill, the highest point in the city, offering a stunning 360 degree view of Cartagena from above. You’ll want to bring your camera, especially if the weather permits. There is also a colonial museum with exhibits, and a beautiful chapel and courtyard.
- A Gruesome Historic Museum: The Palace of Inquisition
Those who can handle a little horror might enjoy the Historical Museum of Cartagena. While this historic site is both attractive and welcoming from the outside, with its colonial-style façade, inside lurks terrible remnants from the Spanish Inquisition. Visitors to the museum can observe torture equipment and historic artifacts from the Spanish Inquisition, which will forever alter their perspective of the event.
Despite its dark past, the city is now a place of great beauty and serenity. These Cartagena shore excursions will enhance your visit to this fascinating city on your next Panama Canal cruise, and invigorate your sense of adventure. Find more Cartagena attractions and shore excursions.