Points of interest, travel guide and tourism in Cartagena : when you tire of flâneur-ing, sit in one of the squares. The Plaza de Bolivar is a pleasant park next to the imposing cathedral. More lively is the Plaza de Santo Domingo, three sides of which house cafés and bars, with the fourth dominated by yet another old church. Vendors wander about selling tinto (plastic shot glasses of strong black coffee), cigarettes, Cuban cigars and sweets. Many are Indians, descendants of the Zenus people, who fled violence in the nearby Cordoba region a decade ago.
Outside the old town walls down by the quayside, Muelle de los Pegasos, fishing boats in primary colours rest alongside food and drink booths. A short distance away squats a fort, Castillo San Felipe. Massively reinforced for fear of British galleons, its walls are so thick and broad that it resembles a gigantic sand castle and it’s wormholed through with tunnels.
Another landmark is La Popa, a seventeenth-century Augustinian monastery above the city. Views from it show that Cartagena is built on a series of islands (eight altogether) linked by bridges. The old town is segregated on the end of one landmass. At night, one of its approach roads is a sloping street full of frito (deep-fried snack) sellers. The scene is dominated by an ornate sugar-cane grinder, visually a cross between a large lathe and an espresso machine, with thick cane stems piled up beside it. Street lighting above the vendors’ flickering fires adds a veneer of modernity.