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Camellón de los Mártires in Cartagena de Indias
When you vacation in Cartagena one of the first things you’ll learn is that it’s known as the Heroic City. Cartagena played an integral part in the liberation of Colombia from the rule of the Spanish Empire. You can see monuments all around Cartagena to great men who stood up against foreign rule—some of whom gave their lives to the cause. One of the most majestic and breathtaking is the Camellón de los Mártires or Walk of the Martyrs. This plaza was once a wide street lined with theaters but an ambitious plan was put in place to create an iconic cultural center where Cartagenans could remember those who gave all for their freedom.
The History of Camellón de los Mártires
Originally this area was called Plaza del Matadero and was home to a slaughterhouse and a market. More than a century ago the government cleaned the area up, removing both installations and renamed it the Plaza del Centenario on the 100th anniversary of Cartagena’s independence (1911).
How “The Walk of the Martyrs” Got Its Name
Just 5 years later, it was renamed Plaza de los Mártires (The Plaza of the Martyrs) to commemorate the deaths of nine national heroes who were executed during that struggle.
These nine individuals were selected by Pablo Morillo—the Spaniard sent to regain control of Cartagena. In 1816, he put a stranglehold on the city and rooted out as many conspirators as he could, making public displays to cast fear into the heart of Colombians.
The plan didn’t work out so well for the Spanish though. These leaders became martyrs and their deaths fueled the fire for independence. Within a century Cartagena (and all of Colombia) would be free from Spain forever.
Visiting Camellón de los Mártires Today
Today the Camellón de los Mártires in Cartagena is a beautifully restored corridor stretching between the Centro Historico and the up and coming neighborhood of Getsemani—were the independence movement was incubated. It’s also adjacent to the Convention Center Cartagena—home to national and international business and contemporary culture within the city—and features panoramic views of the bay.
When you vacation in Cartagena you can stroll the palm tree-lined plaza at your leisure and gaze upon the beautifully crafted statues which grace the plaza. In addition to several life-size marble busts of the martyrs, a massive sculpture sits at the center depicting a heroic woman of Cartagena raising a hand to the sky. Sculpted by Italian Felipe Moratilla, the monument was created from brilliant white Carrara marble. The inscription underneath (“Noli Me Tangere” – “Don’t Touch Me” or “Don’t Tread on Me”) is a rallying cry of freedom fighters around the world and a statement of inner strength and independence.
And if you’re exploring the city on foot, Camellón de los Mártires is one of the best ways to get from the historic Centro district to the lively cultural heart of Cartagena in Getsemani. All of this is within walking distance of many of our luxury vacation rentals in Cartagena so feel free to get out and experience the city as a native rather than a stranger in a strange land.