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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

The Fortified Wall of Cartagena, Colombia

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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In the Colonial era, this city was known as Cartagena de las Indias to distinguish it from Cartagena, Spain.

Founded in 1533, this city became the main port for Spain and its overseas empire.

A key port for the export of Peruvian silver to Spain and for the import of enslaved Africans, Cartagena soon had to defend itself from pirates on the sea and those who wanted to plunder its wealth. Hence, the 15 meter thick walls surrounding this Colonial  City.

In 1984, Cartagena's Colonial walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Come take a look.

Canons from the wall aimed towards pirates on the Caribbean Sea. Cartagena, Colombia

Canons from the wall aimed towards pirates on the Caribbean Sea

Before modern times after sediment built up, the Caribbean Sea smashed against these fortified walls, bringing pirate ships closer to the canons' range.

Because pirates wanted the treasures inside, this wealthy and active port needed to be protected.

It took 200 years to completely secure the city.

The flag you see waving is the Flag of the City of Cartagena.

A sentry lookout on The Wall of Cartagena, Colombia

A sentry lookout

Being only 10 degrees from the equator, this location gets plenty hot! The only variance in weather is during the rainy season. So you have hot and humid and hot and rainy.

 

 

 

 

Standing inside this small lookout could at least keep the sun and rain off a sentry during his duty hours.

View from the wall towards Boca Grande, Cartagena, Colombia

View from the wall towards Boca Grande

Who would have known when this wall was being constructed, and pirates were out on the sea, that one day, Boca Grande would be home to the most important hotels of Cartagena. Not only that, but you'll find the most expensive neighborhoods in the country of Colombia!

You can see the differences of history, with the Colonial style buildings on the inside of the wall, and the first world standards of Boca Grande in the distance.

Traditional Gethsemane Neighborhood, Cartagena, Colombia

Traditional Gethsemane Neighborhood

Just on the inside of the wall is this traditional neighborhood.

Cafes, bars and restaurants serving international and Criollo food merge with buildings from the colonial era that previously housed slaves.

An interesting piece of information we found recently regarding modern day slavery, is that 94 of the United Nations member states have no criminal law against slavery. So even though historic laws that once allowed slavery have been scrapped worldwide, it has not necessarily been made a crime, even in today's world.

Circo Teatro, 2020, Cartagena, Colombia

Circo Teatro

This is the renovated "Circus Theater."

In the "old days", El Circo Teatro held bull fights as well as operas, plays and motion pictures until it closed. The last matador left Cartagena in 1984.

In modern times, bull fighting has been controversial and was banned in Bogota, Colombia's capital in 2012. The ban was lifted in late 2014, with the city government ruling for “the right to artistic expression” by people who loved this tradition from Spain.

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Today, this old bull ring/Circus Theater is now La Serrenzuela Mall and it is becoming the new icon of the Historic Center of Cartagena. The old bull ring has been restored and is kept for events, exhibits and for enjoying a drink while you look out upon the town and the Caribbean Sea.

It's supposed to have some of the best restaurants in town and is a unique shopping mall experience. With its multiple floors, shops, bars and restaurants, it's a good way to escape the oppressive heat of midday.

More cannons and very high walls looking toward Boca Grande, Cartagena, Colombia

More cannons and very high walls

I would think there was good reason for this number of cannons to be here on top of this very high wall. In other walled cities like Campeche, we saw cannon balls stacked up beside the cannons, but nothing here like that.

 Can you imagine how many must be out to sea? Or what about swords, coins, masts, tin supplies of this or that...

Pirate treasure!!

The wall of Cartagena, Colombia

The very thick wall angles and turns

Here you see how thick these walls really are. There are drainage holes for rainwater to run off, a sentry station, and a view out to the Caribbean Sea. All of this very flat land is where the sea met the wall but over time, sediment has built up between the wall and the sea.

Also, as you can see here, Cartagena's walls were not built as one continuous wall, but rather as sections as a series of stand alone baluartes or bastions. It was later that stone "curtains" connected them.

Las Bovedas, or The Vaults, were built as dungeons, Cartagena, Colombia

Las Bovedas, or The Vaults

Built as storage units and also used as dungeons, Las Bovedas, or The Vaults, are attached to Cartagena's fortified walls. The Caribbean Sea is visible from the top of the building, as you can see here.

At high tide, the prisoners inside were up to their knees in seawater. What a horrible, horrible thought, for many reasons.

Today, this building houses a very popular market which is also a tourist favorite.

An old residence from the 17th century, Cartagena, Colombia

An old residence from the 17th century

What used to be a home of the ultra-rich in the 17th century, is now a hotel. Sea breezes waft through all these doors and windows which help one deal with the super heat that living near the equator entails.

Colonial street looking straight to Boca Grande, Cartagena, Colombia

Colonial street looking straight to Boca Grande

Another narrow street with its small sidewalks just up from the wall and around the corner from the previous mansion.

Looking straight to Boca Grande.

Looking out to the Caribbean Sea, the wall of Cartagena, Colombia

Looking out to the Caribbean Sea

Many battles were fought at the point of these walls and the sea. Hundreds of ships from the British, thousands of cannons and tens of thousands of British soldiers. The Spanish were outnumbered by seven to one, but held fast behind the walls.

The complex of fortresses and walls of Cartagena was the greatest engineering achievement of its time, and is the most complete in the Americas.

A panoramic view of Boca Grande and the Caribbean Sea from Cartagena's walls

A panoramic view of Boca Grande and the Caribbean Sea from Cartagena's walls

 

 

 

 

This panoramic view gives you an idea of how much area the walls covered, and this is only a section! There is a very popular rooftop bar that sits atop these walls, called Cafe del Mar. It's a terrific place to watch the sunset, listen to music and sip on a cocktail.

Horse drawn carriages carry tourists around the city of Cartagena

Horse drawn carriages carry tourists around the city of Cartagena

A very popular tourist activity in Cartagena is to take a carriage ride about town. Often we would see a dozen or more carriages carrying four passengers at a time clip-clopping through town.

We imagined that some of these tourists arrived from cruise ships off shore and others were tourists from nearby hotels. One could also pick up a ride at Plaza de los Coches by the Clock Tower.

For more information on Colombia, with photos, stories and videos, click here

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About the Authors

 
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

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