Santa Marta is the oldest known Spanish settlement in Colombia and the second oldest in South America. Situated on a stunning Caribbean bay, Santa Marta is one of the most popular beach destinations in Colombia and is also the jumping off point for visiting the spectacular Tayrona National Park, named after the indigenous population that inhabited the area in pre-Columbian times. Santa Marta benefits from a refreshing coastal breeze, making it perfect cocktail-sipping weather all year round. Santa Marta is a city with deep ties to South American independence from Spain, and it was here that Simon Bolivar, known as El Libertador, perhaps the most important figures in the liberation of vast swathes of South America from Spanish rule, died in 1814. He was also buried here before his remains were moved to his native Venezuela, and anyone with an interest in South America’s colonial history and subsequent independence can visit the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino estate where he spent his final days. Santa Marta’s historic center also has a wealth of colonial mansions, parks and plazas to visit, including the Casa de la Aduana (Customs House), Bolivar Park, Parque de los Novios, San Juan Nepomuceno Cloister, San Juan de Dios Convent and Morro Santa Marta or San Fernando Fortress, many of which were scenes of historic chapters that defined Colombia’s past.
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