A wander through Getsemani
Historically, Getsemani is the area of Cartagena where African slaves lived during colonial times. The Spanish had imported them (after they’d killed off most of the native population) to build their fortifications: the city walls and the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. Later they were used as servants and on further labour projects, such as road building. They were housed here, outside the city walls, away from the grand homes of the soldiers and merchants who controlled it.
Subsequently the area became home to the city’s artisan workers, including freed slaves. They included carpenters, masons, shipbuilders and blacksmiths. It was one of the latter, Pedro Romero, who led Getsemani’s largely black working class population in a militia group that supported Cartagena’s bid for independence from Spain. On November 11, 1811 the city council voted in favour of a declaration of independence. This asserted the province of Cartagena to be a free and sovereign state, dissolving all ties between it and the Spanish crown.
To get here from the old centre, where we were staying, we had to pass through the Parque Centenario. This small park is home to a troop of monkeys and a family of three-toed sloths. We didn’t spot any monkeys on our way through but did spot a sloth. Actually, that wasn’t difficult to find; it’s simply a matter of finding other tourists staring up into a tree! I shared a photo of him (her?!) in one of my postcards from this trip.
For many years this was a no-go area for tourists, a hub of gun violence and crime. Indeed, when we expressed a desire to visit we were warned to be careful by the guide who had taken us on a tour of the fort and old city the previous day. But the warnings are largely out-of-date, as today’s Getsemani is a vibrant arty community welcoming to visitors.
Getsemani may lie just outside the Centro Historico but don’t let that fool you. Its streets are just as historic and many of its buildings just as beautiful. They are on the whole, however, smaller. Instead of colonial mansions, here there are more modest single storey houses. And street art; lots of street art!
I’d read that Calle de la Sierpe was a particularly good road for street art, so we sought that out and started along it. The first couple of pieces we found were a little rough, but for most of its length there was a lot to admire and photograph. Traditionally the murals here celebrate the people of the quarter, or highlight social issues such as the neighbourhood’s fight against gentrification, racism, and treatment of the indigenous population. Famous figures also appear including Gabriel García Márquez.
We spent a lot of time strolling and taking photos, with the streets gradually getting busier and hotter. Mid-morning we found a great little café with cool décor, nicely air-conditioned and serving excellent coffee. It gave a further lie to the stories of Getsemani as a no-go area for tourists!
Further along Calle de la Sierpe we came to the Plaza de la Trinidad. I was disappointed to find the church locked and too much in the shade for decent photos. But there were plenty of other photo opportunities in the vicinity.
We continued along in the same direction, now called simply Calle 29, still with lots of colour and more street art.
Retracing our steps along Calle de la Sierpe we turned off to explore one of the side streets, Calle San Antonio. There we found an artist at work, displays of paintings, more street art – and a boy with a pet tortoise!
It was getting very hot by now, and also busy, the narrow pavements often blocked with selfie-takers and those searching for the perfect spot for an Instagram pose. It was time, we felt, to leave Getsemani to these newly-arrived visitors.
On the way back through the park we spotted another sloth (or maybe the same one in a different tree!) And thanks to some helpful local lads, this time we found some of the monkeys. A group of young English guys were feeding them with bits of mango. I’m not sure how advisable that is, but it did enable me to get some decent photos!
I’m triple-dipping here, linking to three challenges. Terri knows that my answer to ‘I’d rather be …’ will always be ‘… travelling’! And I know Natalie will appreciate the street art here for the Photographing Public Art challenge, while Jo should enjoy the Monday Walk.
I visited Cartagena in 2023
Another post chock a block full of great photos and aptly descriptive text of Getsemani, Sarah. Funny and sadly, I don’t remember all the amazing street art when were there about 8 years ago but we did love the tropical colors on the homes.
Thank you Annie 🙂 Maybe there was a lot less street art eight years ago? Although some of it looked quite worn and must have been there a while.
Wonderful. Last time I was in Cartagena must have been in 2008-2009…
Regional conference. Very bad memories…
Not cartagena’s fault. 😉
Thank you again 😊 Never judge a city by the conferences it hosts, eh?!
Well, we were meeting the new Latin-America regional boss who turned out to be a complete idiot… (Nitwit) So it didn’t go well.
Fortunately I had already been several times to Cartagena…
Wow, what a fabulous place to visit. I love the colourful houses and the umbrellas, and the street art is amazing – hard to pick a favourite so I’ll say all of them 🙂 And the monkeys – too cute for words 🙂
Thank you Eunice – I agree, hard to pick a favourite here!
Wow. Those are all stunning!!!
Thank you Kirstin – I was indeed wowed by them!
I become more and more intrigued with street art, And I think while other countries have been doing it for many years, it’s just becoming trendy in other area. Loved the umbrellas.
It’s definitely catching on in more and more places 😀 Colombia has some particularly wonderful street art areas!
Gorgeous, colorful, pictures, Sarah! I’d rather be traveling, too! 🙂
Thanks so much Susanne 😊 I guess many of us feel the same (while some people obliged by circumstances to travel would definitely rather be at home!)
Oh, brilliant! Thanks for my Virtual Tour of 5his place, and the vibrant Street Art, Sarah!
Glad you enjoyed the walk Sue 😀
I did, and a little tinge of envy crept in
Oops, sorry 🤗
Nothing to be sorry about!
This is fascinating, Sarah – I haven’t been anywhere in South America. Neighborhoods evolve, don’t they? I admire your adventuresome, open-minded spirit and the photos are really well done, as always. 🙂
I’ve loved everywhere we’ve been in South America! Chile was probably my favourite but Colombia had loads to offer too 🙂 I do hope that I’m open-minded, especially when I travel, but I don’t consider myself adventurous. We usually travel on a pre-planned pre-booked itinerary when we venture beyond Europe or North America 😉
that street art is incredible! What I always like about these parts of towns is how they transformed a sad history into such a beautiful expression of the city.
Yes, I completely agree – a really positive transformation 😀 Although I wonder about the people who live here. These changes must drive up property prices and also make once quiet areas much busier. I know locals have already largely abandoned living in the old city for that reason; it would be a shame if that were to happen here too.
You weren’t kidding when you said “lots of street art” – wow! And then sloths and monkeys too … you’re spoiled for choice with this excursion (even with the warning of a “no-go area for tourists”). Great photos Sarah!
I think that warning was well out of date, it’s a very safe area now – well, as safe as anywhere in a busy city 🙂 I would recommend a walk around here to anyone!
What a beautiful place!
Yes, fabulous Anna – colour everywhere you look 😀
WOW My type of place.
Yes, you would love it here (and your niece 😆 )!
Wonderful photos! Especially the street art. I’ve been compiling a list of street art in the twin cities and some day I’m going to go photograph them all and create a post. Probably after it warms up. Thanks for sharing these!
Thanks so much 😊 I’ll look forward to seeing your Twin Cities street art, as I’ve never visited that part of the US.
So much colour!!! Even without the murals!!
Yes, absolutely! Some time soon I’ll share some photos from the central old town, especially the part they call San Diego. That had relatively little street art but still was packed with colour!
I’m so jealous! We had to walk past or through Parque del Centenario every day between Getsemani and Old Town. We didn’t know about the sloths! They are the cutest sloths I’ve seen a picture of, quite different than other sloths I’d seen. Great pictures of it. Getsemani is a cute neighbourhood too with so much colour. You found lovely street art. Maggie
Thank you Maggie 🙂 I’m wondering though if you misread my words? The photos here are of the monkeys – there’s one of the sloth in the earlier ‘postcard’ post that I linked to, but none in this one.
Oh! I must have misread and assumed sloths. I thought they were the most interesting looking sloths! They still are interesting looking monkeys though, and I’m still jealous!
What a treasure trove of artwork, Sarah! I especially like the cat’s face with the lady gazing upwards superimposed. Many thanks for sharing. Can’t type much. Sprained wrist today. Clumsy woman..
Oh no, what happened? Did you have a fall? PS don’t answer if you can’t type!
Typing left handed slowly. Accidentally hurdled a croquet hoop. Think I invented a new sport.
Mike and Kellye Hefner
I enjoyed strolling through the streets of Getsamani with you, Sarah. The street art is fantastic and must really enhance the already colorful Cartagena. The amount of talent is mind boggling. Oh, and I’m glad that you finally got to see the monkeys. They are really cute.
Glad you enjoyed the walk Kellye, and I’m happy to be able to share this colourful place with everyone, not to mention the cute monkeys of course!
Thank you, Sarah, for taking us to a colorful and beautiful city!
I’m very glad you enjoyed your virtual visit Anne 🙂
Terri Webster Schrandt
Wow, Sarah, what an interesting city to stroll through! Seeing the monkeys and sloth in their “natural”: environment must have also been a thrill! I’m so happy you got your travel mojo back after 2 years of dealing with the pandemic. The street art looks amazing–some talented artists there. I love that one shot of all the umbrellas soaring above the street!
Thank you Terri 🙂 I loved all of Cartagena but this part was especially great because of the street art. As for my ‘travel mojo’, I don’t think I ever lost it, I just wasn’t able to do as much as I’d have liked. But as soon as we were permitted we were off! This was our third long-haul trip since things opened up again 🙂
Beautiful colors and creative artworks. Quite amazing!
Thank you Amy – this is a colourful part of a colourful city in a colourful country! Expect much more brightness in the coming weeks 😆
Sarah, Thank you for your PPAC contribution. I love the colourful murals and the architecture of those painted houses. The warmer the location climate-wise, the more vibrant the colours on display.
Thanks Natalie 😊 I think you’re right on the whole about vibrant colours, and nowhere else seems to do them better than Colombia!
Another fantastic collection of street art.
Thanks Don – this is a great country for it, and this one of the best areas in the country!
Splendid stuff, and a bit of a Sarah heaven – wildlife and street art in the same place!
Haha yes, two of my favourite photographic subjects 🙂 Or rather three, as this area was great for general street photography too!
Very colourful, and dare I suggest that the street art is better here than that in Shoreditch? 🙂
You could be right Malcolm, although bear in mind that I wouldn’t photograph the less interesting / vibrant / well-executed pieces 😆
This looks such a vibrant community – so glad you visited, camera in hand. It’s just occurred to me. Are there many women street artists? I’ve never actually seen one at work – so far.
There are some, although I assume (from what I’ve seen) fewer than men. One of the most famous that I know of is Miss.Tic, from Montmartre in Paris. I shared some of her work in an earlier post: https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/gallery-off-the-beaten-track-in-paris/ And there are examples from other female artists in that gallery too 🙂
I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen some photos of Miss Tic’s work in an exhibition in the Gasholder area, – apart from in your post of course!