The Doors of Cartagena

“Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”   The Doors of Cartagena.

I have a fascination with doors as it can tell a story.   In Cartagena, there is so much storytelling.  As you visit the different areas in old town, you will notice all types of doors – small, colorful, large, and ornate.

Door Decor

At one time, the door decor was a sign of wealth and status — the bigger or more elaborate, the higher your social status and/or wealth.  Furthermore, the doors had very unique ornatments, such as:

Lions = military

Fish = sea merchants

Lizards = royalty

Meaning of Doors

Even more intriguing as you take a closer look at the doors and you will see they are oversized and can be opened several ways. For example:

Open one side for everyday comings and goings of the family.

Open both sides when receiving guests.

However, for the double doors, the smaller door within the door was for the slaves and servants. This essentially forces them to bow down or bow their heads upon entering.  During the 17th century, over one million African slaves were brought through Cartagena.


The smaller door entries are not used and currently remain closed by the owners.

I leave you with this quote “I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I’m not afraid to look behind them.”  In other words, don’t just pass a door during your travels, find out the history behind them.