Cartagena, Colombia

General Information

Regional secretariat

Administrative status

Chief city of Bolivar

Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena

Registration Year


Historical function

Defense and port

Location and site

On the southwest shore of the Caribbean Sea and in the Gulf of Darien, a group of low islands, canals, laguna, and bays make up the port site of Cartagena, with its excellent conditions for mooring.

Urban morphology

The fortified ensemble is in the form of a triangle. Its plan is characteristic of many colonial cities of the New World; its rectilinear street grid is interrupted by gaps and irregularities, in particular at the level of the city gates. As is common, oblique lines are superimposed on the base grid.

The foreground of the city is dominated by the Bastion of Santo Domingo, which points towards the sea. The fortified enclosure is laid over the quasi-amphibian space. The Baroque facades of numerous palaces and churches are spread out and balconies overlook the narrow streets.

Registration criteria

Criterion (iv): Cartagena is an eminent example of the military architecture of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, the most extensive in the New World and, at present, one of the most complete.

Criterion (vi): Catagena, together with La Havana and San Juan de Porto Rico (already included in the World Heritage List), was an essential way station in the West Indies.

Historical reference

  • Cartagena was founded by the Spaniard Pedra de Heredia following the exploration of the Pacific coast in 1522 and that of the Gulf of Darien in 1525, about a decade after the crossing of the Isthmus of Panama and the discovery of the Pacific in 1513.
  • The city is on the route to the West Indies. It very quickly became a bridgehead and at the same time a crossroads for the Conquistadors.
  • About 50 years after its foundation, following pirate attacks and repeated assaults, the military engineer Antonelli was asked by the king to build a fortification wall for the site. The initial construction was made up of an urban enclosure, the San Felipe tower and the Bastion gate of San Matias. In the 18th century, numerous forts were added to control all access points to the port; the fortification wall system has thus been conserved.
  • In 1719, New Granada, which also included Venezuela and Ecuador, became an independent vice-monarchy. Its rich herbs continued to interest Spain.




Sr. William Dau Chamat

Alcalde de Cartagena de Indias
Alcaldia Mayor de Cartagena de Indias

Centro Diagonal 30 No 30-78 Plaza de la Aduana
Cartagena de Indias, Departamento de Bolivar, Colombia

(57) +(5) 6411370
[email protected]

Sr. Oscar Uriza Pérez

Director General
Instituto de Patrimonio y Cultura de Cartagena de Indias

Getsemaní, Calle Larga N° 9A-47 con Callejón Walter
Cartagena de Indias, Departamento de Bolivar, Colombia

573 013 570 332
[email protected]