Torre del Reloj de Cartagena - History and Facts | History Hit

Torre del Reloj de Cartagena

Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia

Torre del Reloj de Cartagena served as the main gateway to the historic city and is now its most famous landmark.

Image Credit: Diego Grandi / Shutterstock

About Torre del Reloj de Cartagena

Torre del Reloj de Cartagena (The Clock Tower of Cartagena) is the main city gate of the centro historico of Cartagena, Colombia. It would have also been the original fortified entrance to the city.

History of Torre del Reloj

The gate was built over the course of thirty years – from 1601 to 1631 – and became the main entrance to the city. At the time, it was known as the Boca del Puente – the Mouth of the Bridge – as it connected Getsemani to the Old City. The name Torre del Reloj came from the addition of a clock to the top of the gate at the start of the 18th century.

There have been several additions and alterations to Torre del Reloj de Cartagena. Its Baroque façade and Tuscan arches date back to 1704, when Torre del Reloj was rebuilt after its partial destruction in 1697 by the baron of Pointis. Meanwhile its original weapons room and chapel were replaced, first by a pendulum clock in 1874 and then its current Swiss clock in 1937. Following a restoration completed in 1888, Torre del Reloj de Cartagena now has eight sides, giving it a gothic look.

The gate was also defensive: Cartagena was a major port and one of the entry points for those travelling into western Latin America: it has been attacked multiple times in its history. A gate – combined with raising the drawbridge in front of it – would help keep out any potential invaders.

Many consider the Torre del Reloj to be one of the best preserved Spanish colonial fortifications in the Americas

Torre del Reloj today

The Plaza del Reloj is a tourist hotspot – expect to be hassled by everyone and anyone. It’s a popular spot for walking tours, and on the old city side there are plenty of bars and shops. You can’t go into the Torre del Reloj itself, or climb it: the closest you’ll get is walking through the archways underneath.

Getting to Torre del Reloj

The Torre del Reloj is in the Plaza del Reloj, just off Avenida Venezuela. It’s easily accessible on foot from the centro historico, or a short walk from the Getsemani district. You can also get dropped here by any taxi in the vicinity. Buses stop on the Avenida Venezuela.