If I had a Castle…

If I had a castle it would be just like the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas (Castle of San Felipe from Barajas) in Cartagena, Colombia. With an abundance of breathtaking views, on-guard cannons and underground tunnels, I would have a blast living here. Judging by all that open-air rooftop space, I bet it would have made for some epic royal parties back in the day.

The Castle of San Felipe is considered the greatest fortress ever built by the Spaniards in their colonies and rightfully so… it took them long enough to complete it. They started construction around 1536 and then expanded to it’s current size and location in 1657. The Spanish commissioned prominent European military engineers to build the fortress to repel land attacks it’s equipped with sentry boxes, buildings for food and weapons storage and underground tunnels. Numerous attempts to storm the fort were mounted, but it was never penetrated… until me!

The Cano Buzarto (Buzarto Canal) runs in from the sea via Barriogrande and separates the historical center of Cartagena from the humble housing that now surrounds the palace. While, I like the idea of the river passing by the castle, I would have opted for it to runoff into a moat that completely enclosed the giant rock walls.  I don’t know how efficient that would have been but, ever since I was a youngster, I’ve dreamed of having a lazy-river (like at water parks) surround my house. You could fill it with giant inner tubes and floating bars… Tell me that wouldn’t be awesome?

I would have also added a big BBQ station and a full-length basketball court on the enormous rooftop space… Probably right next to where they had the hospital (the roofed area under the flag). It would have been awesome to enjoy some pick-up hoops with royalty from faraway lands as you looked passed the giant military fortress of central Cartagena to the fishing boats out at sea.

One thing I definitely wouldn’t change or add-to would be all those kick-ass tunnels, secret rooms and maze-like passageways that run inside the San Felipe castle walls (below). The extensive system of tunnels is connected underground to distribute provisions and facilitate evacuation. The tunnels were all constructed in such a way as to make it possible to hear footsteps of an approaching enemy.

I couldn’t help but stop and imagine what life would’ve been like there… servants passing by with big bowls of fruits and spices, important diplomats dropping in for business and the constant threat of pirates and foreigners at their door-step. The real question I asked my self was, what would Aladdin have done in Cartagena during their hay-day?

I don’t know what it was about the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas that got me swept up in child-like wonderment, but it felt good escaping realty for awhile and thinking about a different time and place. The Castillo is enormous, very well preserved and super interesting. If you’re in Cartagena I definitely recommend checking it out especially if you can contact a tour guide to give some solid historical information about the place. If not, just do what I did and paint your own picture by acting like you were king and all the other tourists were your servants!

To discover more castles, foreign ruins and other UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, check out some great deals from responsibletravel.com For example, discounts on Turkey Holidays that take you through Old Istanbul exploring its Byzantine and Ottoman treasures. Or, hike the Inca Trail in Peru on one of their Adventure Holidays. They also provide some great Honeymoons like Tailor Made tours in Sri Lanka.

Thanks Wikipedia for the helpful info.

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


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