One of the most photogenic cities in the Caribbean
Cobbled streets, balconies overflowing with blooming bougainvillea and pastel-coloured buildings lining elegant plazas make Cartagena in Colombia one of the Caribbean's most photogenic cities, and a memorable stop on an MSC Caribbean and Antilles cruise.
Founded in 1533, this Spanish colonial city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is steeped in history. Its location made it a popular target for plunderers and English pirates, and arguably features the most impressive collection of forts in the Caribbean. Today the city is eager to share its treasures with modern visitors. Magnificent colonial structures such as the 16th-century Santa Catalina Cathedral, with its striking stuccoes and dome tower, and the three-arch clock gate, the Torre del Reloj, are just two of the many landmarks of this enchanting city dotted with many squares and sidewalk cafés.
A wonderful photo stop on our Cartagena City MSC excursion is the San Felipe de Barajas fortress, a marvel of colonial Spanish military engineering. Its construction began in 1536. Slaves la-boured for more than 120 years to erect this fortress - built on high ground with dominating ap-proaches to the city by land and sea to fend off pirates - and its network of tunnels.
On yet another MSC excursion, enrich your palate as you learn about the rich aromas and flavours of Colombian coffee. Introduced by the Jesuits in 1723, coffee quickly became a key crop in Colombia, which is now one of the top producers of Arabica coffee in the world.
Colombia is also the world’s top producer of emeralds. If jewellery and gems fascinate you, learn all about these green precious stones and make your own emerald-studded jewellery in sterling silver during a hands-on MSC excursion that guides you step-by-step.
And you don’t need to go far to explore nature. An MSC excursion takes you by canoe through mangrove tunnels to Ciénaga de la Virgen, where you can witness a diversity of birds from king-fishers and white herons to pelicans and pink-feathered roseate spoonbills.