The Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, Cartagena
The Castillo San Felipe de Barajas is a Spanish fortress in the city of Cartagena, Colombia. I enjoy viewing historical sites like this, so I made a point of visiting during my February 2013 trip to Cartagena.
Cartagena was founded in 1533, and quickly became an important port in the Spanish Empire. There was gold in South America, and a lot of it was shipped out of Cartagena’s natural harbor. Gold attracted pirates, privateers, and other foreign enemies. Defenses were needed, and construction on the fortress began in 1536.
The structure we see today is the result of several expansions — one in 1657, and another in 1763. Several battles were fought here, with the castle falling once in 1697, but also repelling an invasion in 1741.
The Castillo was a short walk from my hotel. I left early, around 8:00 a.m. It was hot, and I knew I’d be in the beating sun while touring. I walked through the neighborhood of Getesemani, and across the bridge along Calle 30. The Castillo was a few blocks ahead. Even though I arrived early, there were already some tour buses parked in front when I arrived. I bought a ticket at the ticket booth, the entry fee is $17,000 COP as of this writing (about $8 US).
Once inside, you can begin climbing to the top. There are ramps, so it is not too terribly taxing. At the top, there are wonderful views of the city, plus cannons, battlements, and all sorts of interesting things.
There are also tunnels inside the fortress, which you can climb down into. These would have been used to store power, cannon balls, and ammunition.
Overall, I probably spent a couple of hours just wandering along the Castillo, taking pictures, and enjoying the views. I ducked down into the tunnels at one point, though there isn’t much to see there. Here are some more photos, please click them for larger versions: