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Cartagena is Colombia’s historic city on the Caribbean coast, home to beautiful colonial Spanish-style architecture. The city played a big part in the history of Colombia and South America, protecting the country from invasion. Cartagena’s history has been preserved within its architecture, with many of its historic buildings now museums, teaching visitors about the city’s history, its inhabitants, and indigenous communities.
The Chocolate Museum is relatively new to the city, having opened in December 2015. It contains delicious chocolate, stories and facts about the delicacy, fruit trees, and learning activities. The museum is free for visitors to learn about plants and its health benefits, and offers interactive activities teaching all about one of Colombia’s biggest exports. The museum also offers the opportunity for visitors to taste different varieties of chocolate and purchase freshly made products.
Museo del Cacao, Carrera 8 #39-36, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia, +57 5 664 1816
The Museum of Modern Art is located within an old customs house in Plaza San Pedro Claver. The museum contains pieces of art from a variety of artists from around the world, as well as special exhibitions and collections. Opened in 1959, this museum has a large collection of pieces from Colombian artist Darío Morales. The museum houses temporary and permanent pieces, many of which are Caribbean influenced.
Pedro Claver was a Spanish priest and missionary who volunteered to be sent to a new Spanish colony. Claver was sent to Cartagena in 1610 and continued his humanitarian work in the city. At the time African slaves were beginning to arrive in the city before being transported on to the Americas. Claver spent the rest of his life in Cartagena, where he became a patron saint of slaves, provided aid and treated many Africans who arrived in the city. His previous home in Cartagena has been preserved in its original form and is now open as a museum. The museum pays tribute to Claver’s life within a beautiful house and garden setting.
Pedro Claver’s House, Carrera 4 #30-01, Cartagena, Colombia, +57 5 660 0774
Cartagena’s Naval museum, or the Museo Naval del Caribe, is an interactive museum that showcases and highlights the city’s naval history as well as its general history. Located in an old school house, the museum is situated across two floors, and utilizes the courtyard garden area to showcase cannons and artifacts discovered on ships within the harbor. In addition to the city’s history, the museum’s second floor showcases current Colombian naval and army bases. Outside the naval museum, in a park across the street, is a monument to significant figures in Cartagena and Colombia’s history, along with a monument to the Colombian soldiers who died in the Vietnam war.
Museo Naval del Caribe, Calle 55 #3-62, Cartagena, Colombia, +57 5 664 2440
The Inquisition Museum is located in a Spanish colonial building, within the city’s Plaza de Bolivar. The museum provides information regarding the history of Spanish torture methods, with the museum itself located in a building which was once where death row criminals were incarcerated. The colonial house has a torture dungeon and division which was used in the 16th century, along with various objects preserved from the period. The museum’s second floor is home to the History Museum of Cartagena, which teaches visitors about Cartagena’s indigenous culture, traditions, and offers a glimpse into what life was like in the city at that time.
Inquisition Museum, Calle 34 #3-11, Cartagena, Colombia, +57 5 660 6025