400 Years of Cartagena’s City Walls

Friday, September 26th, 2014

This September Cartagena, Colombia celebrated 400 years since the first stone was laid to begin the construction of its city walls, a system of fortifications and monuments built by the Spanish Crown and declared a World Heritage Site in 1984 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization (Unesco).

On Monday, September 8, Cartagena Mayor Dionisio Vélez unveiled a commemorative plaque, accompanied by government officials, military authorities, church leaders, the directors of the Spanish Cooperation Agency, the Colombian Society of Architects, and the Cartagena Institute of Heritage and Culture.  Mayor Vélez emphasized that the anniversary marks a historic precedent for the city.

The walls were built in 1614 with the goal of protecting the city from invasions by English and French pirates like Sir Francis Drake. The city that they sought to conquer was a center for the trade of gold and silver that would be shipped to Spain and one of the most established colonial urban centers in Latin America in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The walls later became a major tourist attraction, positioning Cartagena as one of the most visited spots in Colombia.

September was also Heritage Month in Cartagena, with exhibitions and conferences held on the history of the city.