Cartagena de Indias was founded in 1535 by Pedro de Heredia as Cartagena del Poniente. When Cartagena declared its independence from Spain on November 11th, 1811 it retained the name given to the town after the area of Cartagena de Levante, whose bay is similar to the Colombian coast of Cartagena.
The area was originally inhabited by the indigenous people of the Karib tribe (that’s why we call them Caribbean) during the pre-colonial era, but after the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the subsequent foundation of a town Cartagena de Indias became one of the most important ports in all America.
The privileged location on the Colombian Atlantic coast gave the Spanish people an enormous commercial power over the northern and southern continental area without a great effort. At that time it was also the perfect destination to visit exotic places and thus Cartagena de Indias became the settlement of high-ranking military and ecclesiastic authorities, along with representatives of the Spanish Crown who made Cartagena the capitol of the Nuevo Reino de Granada.
Due to its wealth, Cartagena was also the scene of countless conflicts. Not only Spain but also England and France wanted to get control of the city for economic interests. This led to construction of a strong fortress and the acquisition of weaponry to defend this coveted region. At the beginning, it started as a coastal defense but soon thereafter a big wall surrounded the whole city with a garrison inside. Today, this part of the town is known as the historic center, the Walled City, and Ciudad Amurallada.
Despite its strong fortification Cartagena de Indias was assaulted many times by pirates and troops from England, Holland as well as France; however without success.
Eventually, a rebellion broke out which led to the inevitable independence in 1811. When Pablo Morullo tried to get Cartagena back for the Spanish Crown four years later by means of a naval and terrestrial siege, he failed terribly thanks to the heroic resistance propelled by the will for independence.
After the constitution as a republic Cartagena experienced a period of economic weakening as its independence caused the cease of trade relations. However, along with the arrival of the new century of 1900 and major advances in terms of industrialization, overall economy, politics and culture Cartagena gradually regained the prosperity and importance as a strategic point of trade.