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Cartagena de Indias, one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas, lies on the north coast of Colombia. The city was once one of the wealthiest port towns of the Spanish Crown. Today it is beautifully preserved, with charming squares and balconies overgrown with bougainvillea. Thanks to the large number of well-preserved villas built by rich merchants and noble families, the historic city centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.
A huge fort built on the hill right next to the city defended Cartagena against pirate attacks. This gave the residents the confidence to invest heavily in their villas as well as their churches: the bright yellow tower of the St Catherine's Cathedral has been one of the most iconic landmarks in the town since 1612. The maze of colourful streets in the city centre is contained by a 13-kilometre-long defensive wall. The cannons serve a strictly decorative role these days: the locals often flock here to enjoy the sunset.