Cartagena de Indias is the capital of the Bolivar department and the fifth largest urban centre in Colombia. Founded on 1 June 1533 by Pedro De Heredia, the old colonial-walled city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984, before becoming a designated Cultural and Tourism District seven years later.
Located on the Caribbean coast in the north of the country, Cartagena enjoys a warm, tropical climate with marked wet and dry seasons and an average temperature of 28 degrees celsius. It is Colombia’s fourth biggest industrial centre and its primary tourist destination. It is also boasts the country’s busiest container and cruiser port.
Cartagena is a city of immense and diverse culture, combining aspects of its African, indigenous and Spanish roots. Its array of folk music and dances, with their traditional and modern influences, are hugely popular among both Colombian and overseas visitors. The annual Classical Music Festival is also internationally famous, as is its yearly Hay Festival, now considered the continent’s premier literary fair.
With its civil, religious and military edifices dating back to the 17th century, the old city has a unique and magical feel to it. In the historic centre, known as El Corralito de Piedra, the streets, houses and balconies are some of the finest examples of colonial Spanish architecture in the Americas.
Las Islas del Rosario, some 40 km from the city, is an archipelago of 43 coral-reefed islands and a must-see attraction for nature lovers. From its historic centre and evocative landscapes, to its inviting beaches and cheerful residents, Cartagena is quite simply charm personified.
Although baseball and boxing have traditionally held sway in Cartagena, football has been steadily growing in popularity here over the last two decades. Indeed, today it is the most practiced sport in the city, due in no small part to the arrival of professional football in the form of Real Cartagena.
The club currently play in the country’s top flight, although their only titles to date have been three Primera B league championships (Colombia’s second tier) from 1999, 2004 and 2008. Since 2007, their home ground has gone by the name of Estadio Jaime Moron Leon, named after a famous local footballer who enjoyed success with the national team. The venue forms part of the Unidad Deportiva, which hosted the 20th Central American and Caribbean Games in 2006.