Historic and Religious Treasure
When vacationing in Cartagena you’ll no doubt be struck by the number of beautiful and historic churches in the city. Of course there are the massive cathedrals (filled with actual saint’s bones) but the smaller churches offer breathtaking experiences as well. The Iglesia de Santo Toribio is the perfect example. It may be tiny compared to some of the other Spanish Colonial churches in Cartagena, but it packs an eye-popping punch.
Built between 1666 and 1732 the church has undergone multiple restorations to keep its Colonial beauty intact. The last restoration was completed in 2014 and completely revitalized this historic and religious treasure for yet another generation. Iglesia de Santo Toribio has become a must-see for faithful vacationers, photographers, and people watchers alike.
The Beauty of Iglesia de Santo Toribio
Of course this church still functions as a gathering place for the faithful but when services aren’t in session it’s open to the public to view and photograph—making it the perfect addition to your sightseeing tour of Cartagena. Don’t judge this book by its cover though! The outside is a bit on the simplistic side (it was built at the tail end of the Spanish Colonial period when functionality trumped style) but the inside is every bit as spectacular as you might expect it to be.
The first thing you’ll undoubtedly notice is the authentic Mudejar paneling on the ceiling. This style of woodwork was created by the Spanish Moors (Muslims in the Spanish Empire) and features arches and geometric designs that look almost modern in their complexity. As your eyes travel downward you’ll spot the fully restored altar coated in black lacquer and gold foil. At either side of the church you’ll find intricately carved alabaster holy water fonts which add to the extravagant atmosphere that’s almost too big to fit in this little church.
One historic note: in 1741, when Admiral Vernon attacked Cartagena, a stray cannonball shattered a window of the church during mass. Miraculously no one was injured. The parishioners kept the cannon ball as a symbol of God’s divine intervention. You can see it encased in a glass display case.
Location, Location, Location!
If you’re taking a walking tour of Cartagena, the Iglesia de Santo Toribio sits right at the edge of the Plaza Fernandez de Madrid. The park is a lovely shaded place to sit for a while during the heat of the day. Trees, shrubbery, and gorgeous flowering plants create a tropical feel for locals and visitors alike.
This square was dedicated to José Fernández Madrid, a writer and statesman born in Cartagena, who became president of the United Provinces of New Grenada. A larger-than-life monument to this national hero stands tall at the center of the park.
The Plaza Fernandez de Madrid and the surrounding area were completely revitalized in 2015. A number of new restaurants, bars, and gourmet eateries have popped up (with more on the way) making the Plaza Fernandez de Madrid making it an excellent stop for lunch on your sightseeing tours of Cartagena or to have an evening drink overlooking the park.
This wonderful area of the historic Walled City is just minutes away for most of our luxury vacation rental homes in Cartagena. We invite you to visit us and experience this Caribbean gem like a true Colombian.