Probably there are few places with such variety of things to do in Colombia as Santa Marta. From lush nature to historical buildings, and from stunning beaches to small towns surrounded by indigenous communities. History, culture, food, music and lots of Caribbean joy. Not in vain one of the slogans created to promote it was “the magic of having it all”.
Santa Marta, also known as the Pearl of America, was founded in 1525. It holds an important part of our Colombian history, as it is the first Spanish settlement in Colombia and one of the oldest cities in the American continent. Besides, it is also home to ethnic groups that have lived in this territory even before Spaniards. It represents the legacy of all our diverse history.
For that reason, some advice is to give a whole day to wander around its streets and discover the past that has given such fame to the city. And, as we know there are lots of activities to enjoy, we recommend you visiting the main spots in a city tour, so a local guide can take you and tell you from first hand why is it that important for the country.
So, if you are into diving the history of places, these are the four must-see while you are in the Santa Marta.
1. Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
Quinta is the name of a country villa or a farmhouse. When it comes to cultural heritage in Santa Marta and Colombia, this is one of the most emblematic places, the hacienda where the libertator Simón Bolívar spent his last days. Once you get to walk by its halls, you notice the construction preserves the architectural and landscape essence of its beginnings, highlighting centennial trees in its extensive grounds. Currently, the place become one of the most important museums of Colombian history.
2. Tayrona’s Gold Museum
This building is also known as Custom’s house, and it is a museum that collects a big part of the cultural and ancestral heritage of the different pre-Hispanic cultures of Colombia who dedicated their work to gold. One of those communities were the Tayrona culture of Santa Marta. The museums not only show their work but the customs and traditions this culture had, which actually gave meaning to the pieces that are preserved in here. It is definitely a place that explains a part of our diverse legacy of multiculturality.
3. Santa Marta’s Cathedral
One of the most important religious tourism destinations in Colombia and the world. Built in 1765, it is considered the first basilica in Latin America. The funeral ceremony in honor of Simón Bolívar took place there and the remains of Rodrigo de Bastidas, founder of the city, also rest there.
4. Santander’s Park or Parque de los novios (the park of lovers)
This half square half park is a public place located in the historic center of Santa Marta. It was renovated in 2008 when it was pedestrianized so people could visit it and walk along the main streets of the historic center. It is called Park of lovers because neighbors consider it a focus of romance due to couples who meet around the benches and take a walk around. Of course, this park is a common stop for everyone who is touring the historic center because there are also several heritage buildings and it’s becoming one of the gastronomic centers of the city. Actually, you can enjoy a food tour to discover typical traits and flavors of the region.
Santa Marta worth every minute of your visit and if you have the chance to learn about both the historical legacy and the natural diversity it boasts, don’t think it twice. And once you have crossed off the check list these places, you can keep traveling around Santa Marta and discovering it by going to some of its most important natural destinations: Tayrona National Park, Minca and Ciudad Perdida.