During what is known as the Republic of Colombia, Cartagena experienced two great moments: a crisis in the nineteenth century and a recovery in the twentieth century. The crisis was the result of the loss of the privileged position it held during the colonial times, especially the unfortunate closure of El Canal del Dique, which had been its lifeline to the surrounding areas. One hundred years later, a slow recovery process that gradually restored its old splendor, but in light of new times it has become the site of the Great Encounters of Colombia with the world.
Therefore, due to this monumental issue, this is the most important example of the Casa Colonial Cartagena, where all the ancient influences from southern Spain melted with the popular view of our builders. It is one of the most tangible results of this unique meeting of cultures in the Americas.
While you are still reeling from this first impact, suddenly you find yourself in El Peso de las Brujas (the Weight of the Witches), the first room of the museum on the ground floor, where they cannot escape the shock when they read the 25 questions that were made to a witch in the seventeenth century or when they begin to satisfy their curiosity on how and why the witches were weighed, or when they find out about the famous witchcraft prayer, that was especially used to "keep husbands in line".
One step further and still feeling astonished, you will find the “Camara de Tormento” (Chamber of Torment), a place of terror in the olden times, the famous "Potro" or torture table where the inquisitors tried to extort "the truth" from their accused as part of the call of the Inquisitorial process that started with a complaint and if the Inquisition decided, it could end up sending their prisoners to be burned at the stake. The Museum shows today, in the light of the Human Rights Movement, as one of the worst episodes of our history that should never return.
However, so far, everything has merely been an appetizer, because then you go up to the Higher Level, where the ancient Courtrooms of the Court. These have been converted into graphic-museum enclosures that take you, step by step, through the history of the city which runs parallel to the Caribbean and to the history of Colombia. For example, in Kalamary Room I, where you can admire the impressive “Conquista” (Conquest) module with a unique floor map that marks the transition between our indigenous past and the Spanish domination. It is the Hall of meetings between Karibe Tribes, Europeans and Africans.
In Room 2 CARTAGENA DE INDIAS, you will see, step by step, how the so called Slave Trade worked, with all its influences in our current culture; as well as a didactic show that shows the development of its port, architectural and cultural development in the eighteenth century, embodied in a finely crafted series of models where you can see the ancient techniques of building the walls, temples and houses that today are its heritage.
Another step further and you enter the special moment when Cartagena became the leader of the independence in Colombia, whose events of November 11, 1811 are the source of the deeply rooted tradition that is a very popular holiday today, under which the city also serves as the setting for the National Beauty Pageant. In this room you can see the faces of the Martyrs of Cartagena, slaughtered for the libertarian cause in an episode that gave one of the best known titles to our city: “CIUDAD HEROIC” (HEROIC CITY), which is the same as this room.
To complete this fabulous tour, you enter Room 4, “CORRALITO DE PIEDRA” (CORRAL MADE OF STONE). This will show a simple presentation of the recent history of Cartagena, the drama that began after the Independence and extends throughout the nineteenth century where a deep crisis almost erased it from the memory of our country and how it surpassed this in the early twentieth century when it began the final leg of the city’s life so far, when it begins to move like a pendulum between one of much wealth and the other of extreme poverty, whose center is this jewel of universal heritage.