Falling in Love with Colombia: The Art of Cartagena

It took a matter of minutes for us to fall in love with Colombia. People we had met raved about the country: its beauty, the friendliness of the people, the versatility of its attractions. We crossed the border on a small speed boat, greeted by a fluttering flag high up on the cliff top and a pod of dolphins swimming in our wake. After a night at the sleepy beach town of Capurganá, we arrived in Cartagena. Beautiful colonial buildings, delicious restaurants and incredible street art, it’s one of the most fascinating cities I’ve visited on this trip. Every road, every house, is worthy of being photographed. Choosing where to walk involves either an agonising decision on the prettiness of one path over another, or hours spent wandering in circles trying to see everything. We stayed in the former red-light turned backpacker district of Getsamaní, a haven of cheap eats and bars, and a mere ten minutes walk from the affluent tourist centre. Its past lends it a slightly gritty edge, although that is quickly disappearing beneath the wealth of restaurants and bars centered around calle Media Luna and Plaza de la Trinidad. One of the most striking aspects of Getsemaní is its street art. Whether it be a grafitti covered concrete slab, a riot of colour and music painting a picture of the lively Afro-Caribbean influence, or simply a sketch advertising the dimly-lit hipster bar within, all aspects of Cartagenan culture and life are documented on its walls.

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Street art in Getsamaní

Art in general surrounds you in Cartagena, from the Getsamaní grafitti, to sculptures and architecture. The city itself is a masterpiece to explore, each new street offering something different. We spent four days there, and I could have easily spent many more wandering the cobbled roads, losing myself amongst the flower decked houses and hopping from café to café sampling the Colombian coffee. The artist Botero, although claimed by the city of Medellín, has an iconic sculpture displayed in the old town. Even the door knockers are elaborate and artistic, my favourite being the adorable turtle. The colours are in themselves works of art, simultaneously clashing and complementing each other as you meander down the narrow cobbled street.

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Old Town street

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Sculpture in the square

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Ivy decked walls of the Old Town

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Elaborate door knockers in the Old Town

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Botero sculpture in Cartagena

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Colours of Cartagena

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