Colombia

The legacy behind Getsemaní

Getsemaní is a traditional Colombian neighborhood with such a vast history that streets seem to tell it on every corner. Undoubtedly, Getsemaní has become one of the most relevant locations for those visiting Cartagena. Its narrow streets –which used to be filled with trash– are now packed with boutique hotels favored by intrepid travelers seeking a more authentic experience. But how did this transformation occur? Here, you’ll find out how Getsemaní’s history made it become a popular place that draws thousands of tourists each year.

Source: https://www.alternativetravelcartagena.com/tours/tour-grafiti-arte-callejero-getsemani/

Getsemaní emerged at the end of the 16th Century, during a critical moment for Cartagena, when it was the hot spot for slave trade in Colombia. This neighborhood bursts with history and it’s a marvelous scenario where contrast is king. In the past, Getsemaní shifted from a colonial suburb to one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Colombia. Today it has become one of the most outstanding places to visit in Cartagena. Here, multiple cultures converge to explore its architectural and cultural heritage.

Since its origins, Cartagena had a rigid social structure divided into categories and territories that were rigorously delimited, where boundaries could not be crossed. This unbending social order is reflected on Cartagena’s architecture, which is fragmented and unbalanced.

The upper classes were made of white people, far from the middle-class –or ‘white rabbles’– and black people, which stood lowest on the social ladder. According to the city’s urban delimitations, the Historic Center was intended for the upper classes only, whereas Getsemaní was home to the lower classes.  

Getsemaní’s social exclusion and overcrowding would give rise to solidarity and strong relationships among its residents. People spent most of their time on street corners, where they used to party, play and mingle. Party and noise became its main features and made Getsemaní a representation of the Caribbean worldview.

Getsemaní’s social exclusion and overcrowding would give rise to solidarity and strong relationships among its residents. People spent most of their time on street corners, where they used to party, play and mingle. Party and noise became its main features and made Getsemaní a representation of the Caribbean worldview.

Source: http://paulinetravels.com/getsemani-cartagena-colombia/

A major change would take place in Getsemaní’s history with the construction of Vía Pedregal. The neighborhood would come out of the dark and its residents started to collect the necessary resources to paint the buildings along this newly paved street. This is how Getsemaní went from an old and forgotten neighborhood into one of the most mesmerizing places you could ever imagine. Its streets are not only full of colors –paintings and graffiti tell the story of the neighborhood and its most notable residents.

However, Getsemaní’s walls, churches or colonial buildings are not the main attraction here. The undisputable lure of this neighborhood is the fact that the most authentic Caribbean culture is still alive and can be experienced.

Nowadays, locals strive to preserve the authenticity of their culture. In spite of their efforts, their identity is being threatened by foreign investors, eager to buy the colonial houses and restore them into businesses or private luxury houses. In short, the local people who forged a neighborhood and whose authentic Caribbean culture could be experienced in full are being displaced by foreigners. Most people believe a cultural site is a place that features pristine colonial buildings and nice and clean streets. This goes against Getsemaní’s culture –a place governed by noise and party, whose streets are the main meeting point, where houses used to be always open and where simplicity was the norm

Today, the neighborhood is crammed with restaurants, boutique hotels and luxury private houses inhabited by investors, most of them from Europe. This landscape clearly rebels against Getsemaní’s past, when crumbling colonial houses stood along its streets and when humble residents gathered on the corners to mingle.

It’s amazing to witness how its people have managed to set meeting points to share their vision on what they were, what they are and what they want to become, in spite of economic growth and global interests. Their will is evident in Getsemaní’s street art, which has been there since the beginning of the transformation and speaks for itself.

Getsemaní is a place where the real, the symbolic and the imaginary coexist.

Walking along the streets of Getsemaní is getting into these three dimensions, and see them converge or disappear at times. It is seeing reality and, at the same time, understanding how imaginary limits arise. Getsemaní is everything you can see and everything you cannot –its essence is visible on its streets, but it can also be felt beyond them.


Source: https://cartagenacolombiarentals.com/2017/02/getsemani-graffiti/

Today, multiple restaurants keep the essence of Getsemaní alive. One of these is Bazurto Social Club, a place to witness Cartagena’s pop culture at its finest, where you will party like never before to the rhythm of champeta.

Café Havana –a famous salsa dance club– is one of the neighborhood’s key crowd-pullers. Partygoers and dancers of all nationalities, ages and dance skill levels queue on the sidewalk for a chance to listen to the super-talented resident band or to the musicians visiting on any given night.

Another popular venue in the area is Plaza de la Santísima Trinidad. Built in 1643, and once a dangerous drug-riddled spot, the square now gets packed with lots of food vendors selling homemade empanadas and locals chatting over Águila beers.

Seeing just Getsemaní is half of the experience or maybe even less.

If you really want to understand the beauty of this place and live a full experience of its culture, come and a visit, feel all the history embodied on the streets and its people and understand how culture is much more than colonial architecture and restored buildings.

If you really want to understand the beauty of this place and fully dive into its culture, simply visiting or catching a glimpse of Getsemaní will not be enough. You need to truly live it, you need to feel all of its history through its streets and through its people. It’s the only way to really figure out how its culture goes beyond colonial architecture and restored buildings.

Source: Imagenes de apoyo
Source: This is Cartagena

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