Convento de la Popa

Church in Cartagena

On a 150m-high hill, the highest point in Cartagena, stands this convent. The views from here are outstanding and stretch all over the city. The convent's name literally means the 'Convent of the Stern,' after the hill's similarity to a ship's back end. Founded by Augustine fathers in 1607, it was initially just a small wooden chapel, but when the hill was fortified two centuries later it was replaced by a stouter construction.

A beautiful image of La Virgen de la Candelaria, the patroness of the city, is in the convent's chapel, and there's a charming flower-filled patio. There is also a chilling statue of a speared Padre Alonso García de Paredes, a priest who was killed along with five Spanish soldiers while trying to convert indigenous peoples to Christianity.

There's a zigzagging access road leading up to the convent (no public transportation), which is located 3km outside the old city walls. It takes 30 minutes to walk to the top, but for safety reasons it's not recommended – the road skirts one of Cartagena's dicier neighborhoods. Take a cab and expect to pay up to COP$60,000. Haggle politely but insistently and you might get it for half that.