La Ciudad
de los Encuentros
 
Cartagena de Indias  
 
 
El Corazón de Colombia / Cartagena
The City for Gatherings
Entre las glorias de su pasado, las duras realidades de su presente y con un enorme potencial hacia su futuro, Cartagena de Indias sigue siendo el sitio preferido por los colombianos y la gran apuesta para el desarrollo del turismo internacional de nuestro país. Cada día cobra mayor vigencia las famosas palabras de uno de nuestros poetas cuando dijo que "Colombia tiene su cerebro en Bogotá, pero su corazón en Cartagena de Indias".

Y dentro de las múltiples lecturas que ofrece esta ciudad, probablemente la más acertada es aquella que la muestra como un punto de referencia esencial sobre los orígenes y sobre la evolución de nuestra nación, desde la mas remota presencia de los primeros aborígenes, hasta el sol de hoy, cuando es el escenario mayor de las mejores relaciones de Colombia. Es la más efectiva arma secreta de nuestra diplomacia, como lo definió tan certeramente uno de nuestros ex presidentes. En ese papel, Cartagena ha sido tradicionalmente el centro de una gran cruce de caminos o, en otras palabras, la Ciudad de los Encuentros en el Caribe.

Within the glory of its past, there is the harsh reality of its present, with enormous potential towards its future, Cartagena is still the favorite place for Colombians and the best bet for the development of international tourism in this country. Every day, the famous words of one of our poets become more evident when he said that: "Colombia has its brain in Bogota, but it has its heart in Cartagena."
And within the multiple representations that this city offers, probably the most successful is that it is an essential reference point of the origin and the evolution of our nation, from the earliest presence of the first Aborigines, to today, where it is the most popular juncture to forge the best relationships of Colombia. It is the most effective secret weapon of our diplomacy; it is defined by one of our former presidents. In this report, Cartagena has traditionally been the center of a crossroads or in other words, the City for Gatherings in the Caribbean."
De Kalamary a Cartagena de Indias / From Calamary to Cartagena
Por obra y gracia de su privilegiada posición en una esquina estratégica del Caribe colombiano, por aquí penetraron los primeros emigrantes que al paso de los siglos le darían luz y vida a las grandes culturas aborígenes que hoy forman parte de nuestro patrimonio cultural y cuya trashumancia trajo a nuestro suelo a los guerreros Karibes, unos osados navegantes que aquí se establecieron en numerosos poblados, entre los cuales figuraba Kalamary, en el mismo sitio donde tiempos después se levantaría la monumental Cartagena de Indias. De este primitivo episodio, envuelto en las brumas de la leyenda, sobresale la figura de la India Catalina, una mujer caribe que sirvió como india-lengua, es decir intérprete, entre sus paisanos y los recién llegados, como parte del proceso del dominio español de estas tierras.

Como parte del proceso de exploración y reconocimiento del territorio, Kalamary fue tomado como base de operaciones para organizar la conquista de esta parte de América. En ese plan, Don Pedro Heredia debidamente autorizado por la Corona, funda la ciudad en 1533 y delimita las fronteras de su poder en una enorme porción de tierras que quedaron vinculadas a la gran Provincia de Cartagena de Indias, correspondiente hoy a los departamentos de Atlántico, Bolívar, Córdoba y Sucre, cuya mayor fuente de riquezas eran los tesoros de los hombres del Sinú, que según cuenta la tradición tenían oro hasta para sus perros.
 
 
Superada la fase dramática de la Conquista, la Ciudad de Heredia comienza entonces a afianzar la más sólida de sus condiciones: la de ser el puerto mejor habilitado de esta parte de América para el intercambio comercial con la metrópoli, en lo que se conoció como la Carrera de Indias, cuyo desarrollo convirtió al nuestro en el primer puerto de entrada del trafico de esclavos africanos que en gran escala llegaron a América entre los siglos XVII y XVIII.
Todo este inmenso auge comercial tuvo su reflejo en la construcción de la ciudad histórica que hoy conocemos, con los más sobresalientes ejemplos de su arquitectura doméstica, cuya principal huella es la Casa Colonial Cartagenera, y las torres y claustros de su arquitectura religiosa que dan cuenta de la presencia de todas las ordenes católicas en la configuración urbana de la ciudad. Todo ello está férreamente guardado por el gran complejo de su fortificación inexpugnable que en su momento fue una de las avanzadas de cuantas se hicieron en todo el mundo y que hoy llenan de asombro a los propios cartageneros y a los miles de visitantes que cada día visitan más esta joya de los pueblos de Iberoamérica.

Because of its privileged position in a strategic corner of the Colombian Caribbean Coast, here is where the first emigrants penetrated. And through the passage of the centuries it would give light and life to the great aboriginal cultures that are now part of our cultural heritage and whose transhumance brought the Carib warriors to our land, a group of daring navigators who settled here and created numerous villages, among them was Calamary; here is the same place where the monumental Cartagena was to become. In this early episode, wrapped in the mists of legend, stands the figure of La India Catalina, an indigenous woman who served as an interpreter, among her countrymen and the newcomers, as part of the Spanish domain of these lands.
As part of the process of exploration and recognition of the territory, Kalamary became as a base to organize the conquest of this part of the Americas. With that plan in mind, Don Pedro Heredia duly authorized by the Spanish Crown, founded the city in 1533 and defined the boundaries of his power on a huge portion of land that was linked to the great Province of Cartagena de Indias, corresponding today to the departments of Atlántico, Bolivar, Cordoba and Sucre; whose main source of wealth was the treasures of the Sinú tribe, who according to tradition had gold even for their dogs.
Having survived the dramatic phase of the Conquista (Conquest), the City of Heredia then began to strengthen its conditions: to be the best enabled port for this part of the Americas in order to trade with the surrounding areas, in what became known as the Carrera de Indias (The Indias´ Route), whose development was to become the first port for the African slave trade in a large scale that came to the Americas in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
This huge commercial boom was reflected in the construction of the historical city we know today, with the most outstanding examples of domestic architecture, whose main characteristic is the typical Cartagena Style Colonial House and the towers and cloisters of the religious architecture that confirms the presence of all of the Catholic orders in the urban city setting. This is fiercely guarded by the great complex of its impregnable fortress that once was one of the most advanced outposts that were made worldwide and that now fills the people from Cartagena and the thousands of visitors who visit this jewel of Latin America with awe.
 
 
Ciudad Heroica / Heroic City
Justamente por todo el peso específico que llegó a consolidar el Puerto de Cartagena en la economía, en la sociedad y en la política del antiguo Virreinato de la Nueva Granada, a la hora de la Independencia volvió a jugar un protagónico papel al lanzarse a su propia declaratoria el 11 de noviembre de 1811, fecha magna que hoy figura, junto con el 20 de julio de 1810, en los anales del nacimiento de nuestra nacionalidad.

Y justamente también por ser el foco mayor de la resistencia patriota, Cartagena cayó abatida por el hambre impuesta por el Sitio de Morillo de 1815, una las gestas más memorables de nuestra libertad, que le ganó a la nuestra el título de Ciudad Heroica, proferido por el Libertador cuando fue enterado del cruento episodio e inmortalizado en la estrofa IV de nuestro Himno Nacional.

Due to its specific importance, it was necessary to consolidate the Port of Cartagena with economy, society and the politics of the ancient Viceroyalty of New Granada. When the time came for the Independence, the city returned to play a leading role in the launching of its own declaration on November 11, 1811, a date that today, along with July 20, 1810, are in the annals of the birth of our nation.
And just about the time that there was major focus on the patriotic resistance, Cartagena fell into a point of starvation imposed by the Sitio de Morillo 1815 (Morrilo’s Expedition for Recovery 1815), one of the most memorable feats of our freedom, where it won the title of Ciudad Heroica (Heroic City), words uttered by the Liberator (Simon Bolivar) when he was aware of the bloody episode and immortalized this occurrence in stanza number IV of our National Anthem.
Corralito de Piedra / Corral Made of Stone
Durante la vida republicana de Colombia, Cartagena ha vivido dos grandes momentos: uno de crisis en el siglo XIX y otro de recuperación en el siglo XX. La crisis fue el resultado de la pérdida del lugar privilegiado que había ostentado durante los tiempos de la colonia, especialmente al lamentable cierre del Canal del Dique, que había sido su cordón umbilical con el interior del país.

Solo hasta cien años después se inició un lento proceso de recuperación que poco a poco fue restableciendo su viejo esplendor, pero a la luz de nuevos tiempos que la han convertido en el lugar de los Grandes Encuentros de Colombia con el mundo.

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.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Palacio de la Inquisición. Plaza de Bolívar Tel. (57) (5) 6644570
Cartagena de Indias - Colombia
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