A New Tourist Hotspot
The city of Cartagena, founded in 1533, has attracted tourists from all over the world thanks to its rich history, Spanish colonial architecture and vibrant colors. In recent years, however, the neighborhood of Getsemaní has become one of the main spots for visitors. Despite its former reputation as a place for drugs and criminal activity, people of all kinds and ages can enjoy a stroll around this neighborhood today. Travelers can find just about anything here, including local food, dance lessons, live street performances and a mesmerizing array of colorful artwork.
Getsemaní, known for many years as the “neighborhood of the poor,” has undergone massive gentrification during the last decade. Many visitors now turn to it as a more affordable and authentic alternative to the Centro (Downtown) neighborhood (also known as the Walled City). A quick trip to Getsemaní will reward most visitors with the bright Caribbean colors, narrow streets and friendly locals that most tourists go looking for in Cartagena.
But it is not just the colorful houses that make Getsemaní a picturesque sight in Cartagena; since the early 2010s, the walls of Getsemaní have been adorned with colorful paintings by local and international artists. Many recent visitors have been shifting their attention to the growing number of murals in almost every street. Most of them depict local scenes like street vendors and children playing, Colombian icons like Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez and singer Joe Arroyo, or even abstract paintings.
Maria Mulata, the mural shown at the header, was painted by Colombian graffiti artist, Yurika MDC. At first sight, it depicts a maría mulata, the official bird of Cartagena, on a yellow background. The flashing lights of different colors, however, are not just for decoration. Locals know that when the sun hits this bird from certain angles, its bright colors come to display. Graphic Designer and Graffiti Artist, Yurika, shares that the idea for this mural came from an old story told by a longtime Getsemaní resident.
Other murals, for instance, depict the Black history of Getsemaní. The one above shows a Palenquera, inspired by the women from San Basilio de Palenque (one of the first slave towns in the Americas that escaped the Spanish rule). Palenqueras walk all around Cartagena selling fruit and candy with the help of bowls that they place on their heads. The mural below, by graffiti artist Ceroker, reads “here began the insurgency of the people” while depicting Pedro Romero, a working class leader from Getsemaní who played an important role in Cartagena’s independence.
While these stories might be mostly known by locals, most people can appreciate Getsemaní’s wall art. Most paintings will be relatable to anybody, and the abstract art will give an amazing background to most people’s photos. No trip to Cartagena would be complete without visiting Getsemaní, but even if murals are not reason enough to go there, there is always something to discover. Inside Getsemaní, it is easy to get lost in its narrow and winding streets while exploring the little shops and restaurants that are worth a stop.
Where It Is and How to Get There
Getsemaní is located just south of the renowned Centro or Walled City neighborhood. It only takes 20 minutes to get to Getsemaní from the airport, or 10 minutes on foot from the Walled City. Walking is recommended but bicycles can also be rented.
Below is a list of must-see spots in Getsemaní (click the links for exact locations):
Plaza de la Trinidad (Trinidad Square). Located in front of the Santísima Trinidad Church, this square attracts the most visitors during the evening hours as there are always street performers, food stands, and dine-in restaurants within walking distance.
Calle de las Sombrillas (Umbrellas Street). Formerly known as Callejón Angosto (Narrow Alley), it is now covered by colorful umbrellas that light up at night.
Calle de la Sierpe (Sierpe Street). This “serpent-like” street is famous for its wall art. Side to side visitors will see murals depicting Colombian themes.
Camellón de los Mártires (Martyrs Strip). Recommended for crossing from the Walled City to Getsemaní, this strip rewards travelers with amazing views of the Cartagena Bay, the Centenario Park and the Clock Tower.
Puente Román (Román Bridge). Located on the south side of the neighborhood, this bridge gives one of the best views of the walled section of Getsemaní, the Cartagena Bay and the Bocagrande high-rises, and it only takes five minutes to walk across it.
My name is Javier Cataño García and I am pursuing a M.A. in Spanish, with focus on linguistics and literature, at the University of South Florida, Tampa, where I also teach undergraduate Spanish courses. I was born and raised in Colombia, but I have lived in the United States since August 2021. I have always had a special interest in foreign languages and geography, and I am looking to channel that interest through Latina Republic. I also have some training and experience in English-Spanish translation and interpretation. Although my professional career has been centered in teaching, I enjoy delving into other areas such as music, cooking and journalism. I hope to find new directions in my career through Latina Republic.