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When King Philip II employed the Italian engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli to design a master plan of fortifications for Cartagena, construction would actually continue for the next two hundred years. This accelerated the formation of a sand bar , which soon connected the Bocagrande Peninsula to the island of Tierrabomba. San Luis was replaced by San Fernando after the English raid.

The city itself was circled with a ring of bastions connected by curtains. The island of Getsemani was also fortified. Completed in , the fort was expanded in the 18th Century, and included underground corridors and galleries.

The 18th century began poorly for the city economically, as the Bourbon dynasty discontinued the Carrera de Indias convoys. However, with the establishment of the Viceroyalty of New Granada and the colonial struggle with England, Cartagena took on the stronghold as the "gateway to the Indies of Peru". By , the city included 13, inhabitants with a garrison of The population reached 17, in By , the city was fully recovered. At the same time, the slow but steady reforms of the restricted trade policies in the Spanish Empire encouraged the establishment of new trade houses and private projects.

He is also known for designing the Puerta del Reloj starting in Starting in mid-April , the city endured a siege by a large English armada under the command of Admiral Edward Vernon. The English armada included 50 warships, transport ships, and 25, men, including 2, North American colonial infantry. The North Americans then took La Popa hill. Following a failed attack on San Felipe Barajas on 20 April , which left British dead and another 1, taken prisoner, Vernon lifted the siege. By that time he had many sick men from tropical diseases.

An interesting footnote to the battle was the inclusion of George Washington 's half brother, Lawrence Washington , amongst the British colonial troops.

Lawrence later named his Mount Vernon estate in honor of his commander. This engineer continued the work to make Cartagena impregnable, including the construction from to , of a yards long underwater jetty across the Bocagrande called the Escollera. After Vernon, what is called the 'Silver Age' of the city — began. This time was one of permanent expansion of the existing buildings, massive immigration from all the other cities of the Viceroyalty , increase of the economic and political power of the city and a population growth spurt not equaled since that time.

The good times of steady progress and advancement in the second half of the 18th century came to an abrupt end in with the general crisis of the Spanish Empire that came from the Mutiny of Aranjuez and all its consequences.

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Among the censuses of the 18th century was the special Census of , imposed by the governor of the time, D. Juan de Torrezar Diaz Pimienta — later Viceroy of New Granada — by order of the Marquis of Ensenada , Minister of Finance — so that he would be provided numbers for his Catastro tax project, which imposed a universal property tax he believed would contribute to the economy while at the same time increasing royal revenues dramatically.

The Census of , besides having significance for economic history, required each house to be described in detail and its occupants enumerated, making the census an important tool [34] The census revealed what Ensenada had hoped. For more than years, Cartagena was under Spanish rule. Finally on 11 November, a Declaration of Independence was signed proclaiming "a free state, sovereign and independent of all domination and servitude to any power on Earth". Spain's reaction was to send a "pacifying expedition" under the command of Pablo Morillo , The Pacifier, and Pascual de Enrile, which included 59 ships, and 10, men.

The city was placed under siege on 22 August The city was defended by men, cannons, and 8 ships plus ancillary small watercraft, under the command of Manuel del Castillo y Rada and Juan N.

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By 5 December, about people per day died from hunger or disease, forcing to flee on vessels provided by the French mercenary Louis Aury. By that time, had died. Morillo, in retaliation after entering the city, shot nine of the rebel leaders on 24 February , at what is now known as the Camellon de los Martires. A key engagement was the destruction of almost all of the royalist ships anchored on Getsemani Island on 24 June The Liberator spent 18 days in the city from 20—28 July , staying in the Government Palace in Proclamation Square and the guest of a banquet hosted by Jose Padilla at his residence on Calle Larga.

Unfortunately, the toll of war, in particular from Morillo's siege long affected the city. With the loss of the funds it had received as the main colonial military outpost, and the loss of population, the city deteriorated. In fact, its population did not reach pre numbers until the start of the 20th century. These declines were also due to disease, including a devastating cholera epidemic in The Canal del Dique that connected it to the Magdalena River also filled with silt, leading to a drastic reduction in the amount of international trade.


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The rise of the port of Barranquilla only compounded the decline in trade. Cartagena faces the Caribbean Sea to the west. Zona Norte, the area located immediately north of the airport, contains the Hotel Las Americas, the urban development office of Barcelona de Indias, and several educational institutions. On the Caribbean shore between Crespo and the old city lie the neighborhoods of Marbella and El Cabrero. The Downtown area of Cartagena has varied architecture, mainly a colonial style, but republican and Italian style buildings, such as the Cathedral's bell tower, can be seen.

This plaza is surrounded by balconied colonial buildings.

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Shaded outdoor cafes line the street. The Office of Historical Archives devoted to Cartagena's history is not far away. Next to the archives is the Government Palace, the office building of the Governor of the Department of Bolivar. Across from the palace is the Cathedral of Cartagena , which dates back to the 16th century.

Nearby is the Tcherassi Hotel , a year-old colonial mansion renovated by designer Silvia Tcherassi. This university is a center of higher education opened to the public in the late 19th century. It has its own square, protected by the San Francisco Bastion. A minute walk from downtown is the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas , located in el Pie de la Popa another neighborhood , the greatest fortress ever built by the Spaniards in their colonies.

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The tunnels were all constructed in such a way as to make it possible to hear footsteps of an approaching enemy. Some of the tunnels are open for viewing today.


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From the top of this construction the Caribbean Sea is visible. Once a district characterized by crime, Getsemani, just south of the ancient walled fortress, has become "Cartagena's hippest neighborhood and one of Latin America's newest hotspots", with plazas that were once the scene of drug dealing being reclaimed and old buildings being turned into boutique hotels.

The Bocagrande Big Mouth is an area known for its skyscrapers. The area contains the bulk of the city's tourist facilities, such as hotels, shops, restaurants, nightclubs and art galleries. The beaches of Bocagrande, lying along the northern shore, are made of volcanic sand, which is slightly grayish in color. This makes the water appear muddy, though it is not. On the bay side of the peninsula of Bocagrande is a seawalk. In the center of the bay is a statue of the Virgin Mary. The Naval Base is also located in Bocagrande, looking at the Bay.

Cartagena features a tropical wet and dry climate. The climate tends to be hot and windy. The main economic activities in Cartagena are industry, tourism, and commerce. The port of Cartagena is one of the largest of South America. In , Miss Colombia was founded in Cartagena de Indias. There is also a local beauty contest held with many of the city's neighborhoods nominating young ladies to be named Miss Independence.

Free zones are areas within the local territory which enjoy special customs and tax rules. They are intended to promote the industrialization of goods and provision of services aimed primarily at foreign markets and also the domestic market. Tourism is a mainstay of the economy. The following are tourist sites within the walled city of Cartagena:. The city has a budding hotel industry with hotels being primarily concentrated in the Walled City and the beach front neighborhood of Bocagrande. As the commercial and touristic hub of the country, the city has many transportation facilities, particularly in the seaport, air, and fluvial areas.

In , [53] the city started building Transcaribe , a mass transit system. In the system began operating in the city.

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Taxis are also a prevalent form of public transportation and there is a bus terminal connecting the city to other cities along the coast and in Colombia. The city is linked to the northern part of the Caribbean Region through roads 90 and 90A, more commonly called Central Caribbean Road. Taxis in the city perimeter do not have fare meters. Road 25 A: Going also to Sincelejo , but avoiding the mountains, connects with Road 25 in the forementioned city. Also more companies prefer to serve the Colombian market from Cartagena, due to better geographical and atmospheric conditions.