The Slavery Route in cartagena de indias

Cartagena is full of stories, and one very present in its streets, squares and temples is that of slavery. A Unesco project (The slave route: resistance, freedom, heritage), seeks to ensure that the traces of this period are not forgotten, and that people better understand its causes and consequences.

Cartageneros and visitors will now be able to know more accurately and accurately the history of slavery. A painful story that left its mark in many places and spaces of the city. With the support of the Ministry of Culture, the National University of Colombia, the Cartagena Tourism Corporation and the Institute of Heritage and Culture of the city, a group of 25 guides were prepared to narrate that history (sites, protagonists, geography, culture) and For this, they will rely on a primer in which historians have identified more than 15 sites of memory of slavery with which routes can be organized, that each one adapts to their time and resources.

This initiative is part of Unesco's project "The Route of the Slave: Resistance, Freedom and Heritage", which has among other objectives "to contribute to a better understanding of the causes and modalities of slavery and slave trade, As well as the problems and consequences of slavery in the world. "

Places such as the Plaza de los Coches, Plaza de la Aduana, barón Getsemaní, the architectural complex San Pedro Claver, Cerro de la Popa and numerous streets of the historic center can be traversed and appreciated from another point of view, as carriers Of a story worth learning about.

The teacher of the National University of Colombia, Claudia Mosquera, one of the promoters of this initiative, gives us a reason to know these sites: visiting these places can produce questions that help us to become aware. In addition, it is a way to fight against oblivion and negation of a painful history like slavery.


1- Between 1595 and 1640, the Portuguese brought to Cartagena about 125,000 enslaved Africans.

2- The one that today we know as Plaza of the Customs, in the colonial period was called Plaza de la Antigua Real Contaduría. There was an intense purchase of slaves.

3- It is on the outskirts of the Clock Tower and we know it today as the Peace Square. In the colony was called Black Square because there black slaves and free, sold fruits, vegetables and meat.

4- In the hill of Popa exists a place known like "Jump of the goat", site that was frequented by Indians, blacks and mestizos, to adore "Buziraco", a deity that looked like a goat.

5 - At the end of the XVII century, the slave trade had declined remarkably and the dubious honor of slave port in Spanish America, relapsed in Buenos Aires (Argentina).


A) Ask your guide for "The slave route", get to know it and build memory. La Plaza: In the colonial period, the territory that now corresponds to the Historic Center was divided into two major sectors: La Plaza and El Arrabal, which correspond to the so-called Corralito de Piedra and Getsemani, respectively. The Plaza was divided into four neighborhoods: Santa Catalina, San Sebastián, La Merced and Santo Toribio, now San Diego.

B) El Arrabal: in the area known as La Plaza, the process of enslavement of Africans left traces related to the process of traffic, sale and services in which the enslaved were used, as well as places related to daily life and their resistance to Preserve their traditions.

C) Arrival: For much of the colonial period, thousands of ships of enslaved Africans arrived, who were merchants and distributed as labor, into the kingdom and other parts of the southern part of the continent. The Africans were disembarked and taken to the Bay of Las Animas in smaller boats, where they entered the city. Then they had to be counted and inspected to know their state of health.

D) Plaza de la Aduana: the first control body over imports that were made from Cartagena, had as its main epicenter the Plaza de la Antigua Real Contaduría or Plaza de la Aduana. In it was the Royal House, place where all the goods that entered the port were legalized. It was the place, par excellence, where the purchase and sale of slaves was developed.

E) Cars Square or Yerba Square: It was an important space for the transit of the enslaved population that moved between the square and the suburb, through the mouth of the bridge. The sector of this square, near the Bank of the West, was known as Plaza del Esclavo, because in its perimeter were realized sales or sales of enslaved.

F) Plaza de La Paz: it was known as Plaza de las Negras because there, authorized or forced by its owners, black slaves and free sell fruits, vegetables and meats at retail.

G) Plaza Fernández Madrid: In this place there were several jagüeyes or wells where the enslaved population and the servants, were going to collect water to take to their places of accommodation, to the residences where they provided domestic service. For this reason, it was known as Plaza de Los Jagüeyes.

H) Martín Amador Street: It is one of those that ends in the Plaza Santo Domingo and that in the first centuries of the colony, was known as Santo Domingo, Calle de Nuestra Señora del Rosario or Palenque. In this one worked several corrals or deposits of esclavizados, later displaced to the district of Santo Toribio.

I) Green Canyon Street: received the name of Our Lady of Slavery or Slave Street, because of its proximity to the Plaza de Los Coches where the sale of the enslaved in the seventeenth century.

J) Calle de Nuestra Senora del Cavo - Second Street of La Cruz: in 1777 was located a cabildo of black carabali, brought by Dutch, French and English asentistas.

K) Street of the Cabildo of Congos or Our Lady of Africa: possibly it was a place in which they inhabited Africans or descendants of these, pertaining to the congo cultural group.

L) Street of Our Lady of the Pine or of Portobelo: worked in this street a cabildo of black carabalíes.

M) Street of the Santísimo: worked in this street a cabildo of black mines.

N) Calle del Quero: it worked a town hall of blacks of loango or Luanda.

Ñ) Los Siete Infantes Street: there were two cabildos of blacks, one of arrares and another of jojoes.

O) Street of San Pedro Mártir: a cabildo of black chalaes worked.

P) Architectonic Set San Pero Claver: the Spanish Claver, dedicated his service to the evangelization of the enslaved while he healed and took care of them. The cloister where the House Museum San Pedro Claver works, is the place where you can know the work executed by the Jesuit in the early seventeenth century in favor of the enslaved who came to Cartagena.

Q) Hermitage of Our Lady of Dolores: Known as Clock Tower, in 1755 was built the hermitage of Our Lady of Dolores, to the devotion of the Lieutenant of Artillery Don Manuel Novoa. At the mass officiated in this place, the slaves and the poor people of the city attended assiduously.

More information on The Slave Route at here
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