Mompox, Colombia

Deep in the sweltering heat of the Bolivar Department, Mompox is a current day Colonial relic and backwater. A new road may change this, visit it now in its sleepy glory

Located some 250 km from Cartagena , Mompox is not an easy place to reach. Bordered on one side by vast swamps and on the other by the Magdalena River it is hard to picture that once, up until the end of the 18th century, this town was the third most important commercial hub in Colombia, behind only Bogota and Cartagena.

The Magdalena river has been both a blessing and a poisoned chalice to the people and city of Mompox . From the 16th to the 19th century the city developed parallel to the river. The three straight, wide streets of one storey whitewashed houses that run parallel to the waters are today the beating heart of the city as they were in Colonial times.

As the key bridge between the Caribbean coast and the interior of the country, the river provided the city with the origin of its wealth. Merchants laden with both legitimate and contraband goods came here from Cartagena to protect their interests from the rampaging and frequent attacks by pirates.

Founded in 1540 on the banks of the Magdalena , and given the conditions, merciless heat and swamplands, Mompox is a feat of stubborn perseverance and exact engineering and played a key role in the Spanish colonization of northern South America.

The historic centre has preserved the harmony and unity of the urban landscape. Most of the buildings are still used for their original purposes, providing an exceptional picture of what a Spanish colonial city was like.

As previously mentioned, the city increased in size and importance until that time when the Magdalena river, laden with debris and silt altered its course, moving away from Mompox and therefore leaving the city isolated and in decreasing in importance.

Tourism is growing gradually, obviously not as rapidly as those here would like, but, with the new highway and with an emphasis on its renowned and austere Semana Santa celebrations, hopes are high. Foreign money is flowing in and the streets and vast colonial mansions are being renovated in anticipation of Mompox becoming the next big thing in Colombia.

Mompox may be very indebted to the river for leaving it as a colonial backwater for so long. Its isolation meant that the colonial masterpieces have been left intact, the various churches and plazas may require some touching up, but they remain essentially as they were.
La Casa Amarilla
Cra1 #13-59
La Albarrada con Santa Barbara
Take a Look >>>

Report & Photography by: Richard McColl
Don't Miss...
Internet - There are currently internet cafes on the Calle del Medio and the Alberrada
Banks - There are ATMs on the Calle del Medio
Update this profile...