Santa Marta

Santa Marta was founded in 1525 and is the second oldest surviving European settlement in South America. It really lacks as far as historic buildings, but it has potential and is a nice place to explore for an hour or two. Most of the interesting spots are within a few blocks of each other in the historic city center. Everything you need is between the blocks of Calle 14 and Calle 22 from north to south, and from the seaside to Carrera 5. It’s not a very big area at all.

A street in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

A street in Santa Marta

The main plaza, Parque de Bolívar, is a long stretch of trees and shrubs. One end has the obligatory statue of liberator Simón Bolívar and a large plaza containing government buildings such as the Alcaldía (City Hall).

Parque de Bolívar in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Parque de Bolívar

Alcaldía in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Alcaldía

The Museo del Oro Tairona (Tairona Gold Museum) also sits on the square in the historic Casa de la Aduana (Customs House). It’s a great museum with a good explanation of the history of Santa Marta and a timeline of the life of Simón Bolívar. Admission is free.

Museo del Oro Tairona in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Museo del Oro Tairona

Museo del Oro Tairona in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Museo del Oro Tairona

Museo del Oro Tairona in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Museo del Oro Tairona

At the other end of the plaza is a monument dedicated to Rodrigo de Bastidas, the Spanish founder of Santa Marta.

Rodrigo de Bastidas monument in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Rodrigo de Bastidas monument

The monument sits along a seaside promenade, the malecón, with a small but dirty beach. There are street vendors, statues of the indigenous Tairona people, and a marina.

Malecón in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Malecón

Malecón in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Malecón

Tairona statue on the Malecón in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Tairona statue

A couple blocks east of Parque de Bolívar are two whitewashed churches. One is the Iglesia de San Francisco to the northeast.

Iglesia de San Francisco in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Iglesia de San Francisco

The other, to the southeast is the Catedral de Santa Marta, which also contains the remains of Rodrigo de Bastidas. It was built in 1765. The plaza around the cathedral has a few beautiful colonial buildings.

Catedral de Santa Marta in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Catedral de Santa Marta

Catedral de Santa Marta in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Catedral de Santa Marta

Tomb of Rodrigo de Bastidas in the Catedral de Santa Marta in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Tomb of Rodrigo de Bastidas

About a block south of Parque de Bolívar is one of the most historic buildings, the well-preserved post office.

Old Post Office in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Old Post Office

A very popular place to be at night is Parque de Los Novios. It has a few monuments in the middle, but the main attraction is the restaurants with outdoor seating, many under large trees. A couple of the streets leading to the plaza are pedestrianized and also have restaurants, bars, and cafés with outdoor seating. It’s a great place to be in the evening.

Parque de Los Novios in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Parque de Los Novios

Parque de Los Novios in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Parque de Los Novios

Calle 19 in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Calle 19

Finally, if you’re into shopping, there is the Centro Artesenal where you can find all kinds of arts, handmade crafts, jewelry, and souvenirs of Colombia.

Centro Artesenal in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Centro Artesenal

%d bloggers like this: