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Full Circle

Day 218: Cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia 
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The civilized streets of Cartagena's old city.
Michael Palin - Full CircleThe conquistadors, recognizing a good thing when they saw one, decided to become settlers. A land rush followed the gold-rush. The colonists found that anything would grow here. The only trouble was that, as so many Indians had died either in fighting or from diseases like smallpox introduced from Europe, they did not have enough labour. So thousands of slaves duly arrived in Cartagena, carried from Africa, in boats owned largely by Englishmen. With the settlers and the slaves came the missionaries, and there is still a Palace of the Inquisition in the main square of the old town. After the missionaries came the pirates and the privateers like Francis Drake, but Cartagena resisted them all (including, in 1741, the British Admiral, Sir Edward Vernon, who was repulsed by Blas De Lezo, a commander with one eye, one arm and one leg). Its wild, unorthodox and entirely unpredictable history continued until 1811 when it became the first city in the New World to declare independence from Spain. A brutal revenge was extracted for this audacity but when Simon Bolivar finally liberated Cartagena in 1821 he called it La Heroica - the Heroic City.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 218
  • Country/sea: Colombia
  • Place: Cartagena
  • Book page no: 282

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