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Cartagena Neighborhoods

The original part of Cartagena is surrounded by massive fortress walls. It is divided into two sectors: the inner city, with El Centro and San Diego neighborhoods, and the outer, with La Matuna and Getsemaní.

El Centro is where the majority of Cartagena’s tourist attractions are consolidated. This is where governmental and ecclesiastical bodies had their seats, and high officials and nobility lived. Today, some of Cartagena’s most exclusive hotels, restaurants and shops are here. Plaza Santo Domingo is lined with delightful sidewalk cafés.

San Diego was home to colonial Cartagena’s middle class. This neighborhood, dotted with small, shady plazas, has a quieter pace by day and a sophisticated buzz by night.

The outer walled city was where the artisan classes lived. La Matuna, a triangular wedge between Venezuela and Lemaitre Avenues, was always the business sector. In the first decades of the 20th century, a rail line shot through its heart to La Bodeguita docks which for centuries was the city’s principle port. With the urban modernization ideals of the 1970s, La Matuna lost its colonial architecture and fortress walls. Today its streets are crowded with vendors.

Getsemaní, south of Avenida Lemaitre, retains much of its original centuries-old architecture. Many cartagenera families still reside here, sitting on their stoops, sharing the day’s news. An important community gathering spot com evenings is Plaza de la Trinidad. Getsemaní has many budget hostels (though every year, more upscale B&Bs are opening) and a lively night scene.

Most tourists prefer to stay in the old city, whereas vacationing Colombians tend to head to Bocagrande, located on an L-shaped peninsula south of the ramparts. The bottom bar of the ‚ÄúL‚ÄĚ is called Castillogrande. The curly-cue on the bottom of the peninsula is Laguito.

Other neighborhoods of import are Isla Manga, an island south of Getsemaní and where travelers arriving from Panama by sailboat or cruise ship will dock, and Crespo, northeast of downtown and home to the airport.

Officially all of Cartagena has numbered Carreras and Calles, as in the rest of Colombia, but it is only used in Bocagrande. The old city still uses streets names, which change every block. Some businesses, however, do use the numbered system.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Cartagena: Cartagena History,

By Brenda Yun
I am a creative writer / surfer chick in need of adventure all the time. The only thing that keeps me grounded is my non-traveling, non-surfing pug...
06 May 2011

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