• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector

    Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox

  • Historical Function

    Port and trade.

Location and site

In northern Colombia, on the shore of the Madalena River which descends from the high plateaus, Santa Cruz de Mompox is located about 250 km. upriver from the maritime port of Cartagena. At 33 m. above sea level, it is sheltered from the floods that hit the vast marshy plain that surrounds it.

Urban Morphology

The urban plan, which has been well preserved, has adapted to the course of the river in the manner of Andalusian towns. Its layout centres on a main street running parallel to the former riverbank, with blocks of streets on either side. Three successive urban squares are adapted to the longitudinal plan which, although lacking long perspective views, provide a series of visual treats. The dikes, constructed of brick between the 16th and 18th centuries, line the banks; they open at intervals onto the river.

Each of the three large squares is graced with a church. Along with the other religious monuments, these churches constitute the principal landmarks of the urban horizon. Brick houses of a variety of forms dating to between the 17th and 19th centuries possess patios and tile roofs, and their windows are decorated with iron grillwork. These are adjacent to rows of shop-houses dating to the 17th century and later, although many have since been transformed into residences. The city's more modest homes are constructed of rattan and cobs and possess thatched roofs. The ensemble is both harmonious and delicate.

Registration Criteria

The historic centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox is an exceptional example of a colonial town on the bank of a major waterway which played an important economic and strategic role in its time and possesses a remarkable level of integrity today. (IV) and (V)

Historical Reference

  • Founded in 1540, Villa de Santa Cruz de Mompox (also called Mompox, Mompos) brings together in its toponym the name of its Spanish founder, Juan de Santa Cruz, and that of the last chief of the Indians who inhabited the site, Mompox. Its development is linked to the colonisation of New Granada.
  • In the second half of the 17th century, after the opening of the Canal del Dique facilitated access to the Magdalena River, Santa Cruz de Mompox became an intermediate river port between the Bay of Cartagena and the high plateaus. From the 17th until the 19th century, it was a major customs centre and a flourishing trading post. However, a prosperous contraband trade was practised by merchants with the compliance of the customs authorities.
  • In this region where the population was scattered, diverse and unstable, agricultural activities developed with difficulty. The town grew slowly.
  • The wars which preceded Independence in 1819, and the civil violence that ensued, led to the decline of Santa Cruz de Mompox. At the same time, the rerouting of the course of the Magdalena River left the city isolated in the middle of the 19th century. Today the dynamism of Santa Cruz de Mompox has been reborn thanks to its cultural interest and its tourism potential.
Sra. Nubia Quevedo
Alcaldesa de Santa Cruz de Mompox
Palacio Municipal de San Carlos
Carrera 2, No 18A-25
Santa Cruz de Mompox, Bolivar, Colombia
(575) 685-5738
(575) 685-5738