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Colombia’s Heritage Towns, Part 13: Santa Cruz de Mompox

Mompox Colombia

Written by BertJan Niezing

October 2, 2020

Colombia is full of stunning little towns filled with history, beautiful architecture, and local charm—the Colombian tourism ministry has even created a network of 17 Pueblos Patrimonios(Heritage Towns), bringing them together under one banner. We will introduce you in this serie to these 17 stunning heritage towns.
Today: Santa Cruz de Mompox
Santa Cruz de Mompox is situated on the banks of a branch of the Magdalena River and is famous for its perfectly preserved buildings and beautiful riverside views. Its delightful historical center was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995 and the fact that the town is located on an island with no bridges gives it an isolated feeling that adds to its unique charm.
Life in Mompox is tempered by the gentle breeze off the Magdalena River, Colombia’s main artery. The town grew from what used to be an island vault for the gold and silver plundered by the Spaniards during the colonization of the Americas. Mompox was founded in 1540 and is located about six hours away from Cartagena.
Magical realism is alive and well here. In his novel “The General in His Labyrinth,” Gabriel García Márquez refers to the glorious past of Santa Cruz de Mompox, which you will undoubtedly sense as you walk the streets of the town and pause at its corners to hear stories from the locals. Taking a boat trip through the Pijiño swamp, where the birdsand flora of the region abound, is sure to be another unforgettable experience.

Not to miss:

The cemetery
Renowned for its white tombs decorated with statues of angels surrounded by artificial flowers, it is worth spending a few hours in the cemetery. The graves are stacked on each other forming domes and parlor walls. During Holy Week, the traditional serenade to the dead is celebrated here.
Cementerio Mompox
Port of Magangué
Maganguéis a town located on the banks of the Magdalena River, important because of its function as a point of connection to one of the most attractive destinations in Colombia: historic Santa Cruz de Mompox. Ferries can be found in the port of Magangué, and the church of Our Lady of Candelaria is of historic interest.

TAKE A DAYTRIP TO PIJIÑO

Pijiño
The same sense of wonder that you feel after discovering Mompox, a jewel of colonial architecture in the middle of nowhere, can be experienced again with a trip downriver to Pijiño. Observe birds and reptiles as you travel in wide, motorized canoes. On your way back in the evening, enjoy the incredible sight of the sun sinking into the Magdalena.
Pijiño
Religious art
“If I owe Caracas my life, I owe Mompox my glory,” reads the inscription on the monument in the town hall across from the convent of San Carlos. This confirms the importance of this town in the history of both Colombia and the continent as a whole. Simón Bolívar, El Libertador (leader of Colombia’s independence from Spain) once stayed in the building that houses the Museum of Religious Art (or Casa Bolivariana), where 320 pieces of gold and silver are displayed.
The art of goldsmithing
The history of filigree goldsmithing in Mompox goes back to an indigenous tradition perfected during Colombia’s colonization, when one fifth of the gold collected in the town was sent to Spain. Visit goldsmith workshops and learn about the production of wood and wicker rocking chairs

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