Independence of Cartagena Day

Colombia Public Holiday observed in Colombia

View overlooking the city of Cartagena

When is the Independence of Cartagena?

Year Day Date
2017 Monday November 13th
2016 Monday November 14th
2015 Monday November 16th
2014 Monday November 17th
2013 Monday November 11th

Independence of Cartagena City Day is celebrated on the Monday on or following 11 November.

The holiday commemorates 11 November 1811 when Cartagena became the first Colombian city to declare independence from the Spanish.

While celebrations focus on the city of Cartagena, this is a national holiday as the independence of Cartagena is seen as a key event in the struggle for freedom in Colombia and other parts of Latin America.

History of the the holiday

The Spanish first arrived in Colombia in 1499, founding the first permanent settlement in 1510. The city of Cartagena was founded on 1 June 1533, and named after Cartagena in Spain.

Due to its location, the city grew to be one of the most important cities in the Spanish Colonies with large political power and the location of the Viceroys.

From the late eighteenth century, resentment in the colonies had been growing as the Spanish insisted that the colonies could only trade with Spain, limiting their growth and also as the Spanish support for the Americans in the US war of independence increased taxation.

The desire for independence was ignited by an uprising in Bogota in 1810 and on 11 November 1811 Cartagena declared its independence from Spain. Before independence was gained in 1819, Cartagena was reclaimed by the Spanish and royalist forces, but its initial claim of independence remains is viewed as an important step towards the independence of Colombia.

How is it celebrated?

Initially this day was marked by solemn speeches and memorials of those who lost their lives in Cartagena's struggle for independence, but modern day commemorations have a more joyful feel, celebrating the achievements of independence for the people of Colombia.

Festivities include parades, especially so in Cartagena when the largest and most colourful parade takes place, ending at Plaza Trinidad, the location where Cartagena's independence was declared.

An undoubted highlight of the celebrations is the 'Battle of Flowers', which is the beauty contest that takes place in Cartagena to pick Miss Colombia from 21 winners of local beauty pageants. Miss Colombia will then go on to represent Colombia in the Miss Universe contest.

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