The oldest city in South America1, Santa Marta is the capital city of the Colombian department of Magdalena and one of the most visited cities by tourists on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. While there are many beautiful beaches in and near Santa Marta, as one of the oldest cities in Colombia, there are also a host of historic sites and museums to visit in and around the city as well. Today, we want to tell you about some of the most important and iconic places to visit in this Caribbean city.
La Catedral de Santa Marta/The Cathderal of Santa Marta
Although never 100% proven, many claim the Cathedral in Santa Marta is the oldest cathedral in all of South America.. Regardless of whether it is the oldest or not, the Cathedral in Santa Marta is an impressive piece of history that was home to the remains of South American liberator, Simón Bolívar until the mid 1800s when all of his remains, except his heart and intestines which remain in the Cathedral, were returned to Venezuela at the request of his remaining descendants, and continues to stand as an exceptional example of several styles of colonial architecture.
El Museo de Oro/The Gold Museum
While the main Gold Museum in Colombia is in Bogotá, there is a smaller exhibition of the museum’s Tairona gold collection in the Biblioteca del Banco de la República (Bank of the Republic Library) in Santa Marta. This collection centers on pieces from the ancient and current indigenous civilizations that existed and still exist in the Sierra Nevada region of Colombia, including pieces from the Tairona tribe.
La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
While the Cathedral in Santa Marta was the final resting place for South American liberator, Simón Bolívar, la Quinta de San Pedro, a sugar cane refinery and colonial hacienda, was where Bolívar spent his last living days. Located about 5 minutes outside Santa Marta proper, you can tour La Quinta and learn about both the history and function of the hacienda as well as hear the tales of how Simón Bolívar arrived to La Quinta and how he spent his last days there.
Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona
About 30 minutes outside Santa Marta, you will find perhaps the most popular and most visited national park in all Colombia—Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, commonly just called Parque Tayrona or Tayrona. Offering you the chance to explore some of the most beautiful beaches on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia and hike through the tallest coastal mountain range in the world, you can easily catch a taxi or bus from Santa Marta to get to Parque Tayrona. If you visit this amazing park, make sure you bring an official government form of ID, as you will need it in order to enter the park.
La Ciudad Perdida
If you are up for some serious hiking, a pre-booked hike to la Ciudad Perdida (also known as the Machu Picchu of Colombia) is not something you would want to miss. While the trek takes 3-5 days, it is definitely worth it if you are interested in exploring the Sierra Nevada mountain range up close and/or enjoy learning about indigenous culture while exploring ancient ruins.
The Uncover Colombia Team
- The Tayrona National Natural Park: A must see on the Caribbean Coast (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Santa Marta and Tayrona Tour (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Tayrona Park and Santa Marta: A great blend of nature and history. (www.uncovercolombia.com)