Museo del Oro: Gold in Cartagena

Gold museum, Cartagena, Colombia

Prompted by this week’s #frifotos* theme – gold – here are a few long-overdue words on the Gold Museum in Cartagena de Indias. I’ve mentioned earlier how the kids and I loved this gorgeous Colombian city, the colonial architecture, the pleasant park, the vibrant colours, the music, the people.

Now, my youngest daughter is a bit uncomfortable in the tropics. She much prefers cold temperatures, so we went inside partly to get her out of the Caribbean heat for a bit. Museo del Oro is nicely air-conditioned, (necessary to help preserve the artefacts, I’m sure). Discovering this fascinating little museum was a bonus really.

First, I must mention that Museo del Oro has much more than gold on offer. There’s ancient ceramics, bone carvings, and interesting displays on the way of life of the indigenous Zenú culture, not least their incredible feats of hydraulics engineering – 2 500-year-old hand-excavated labyrinthine canals.

Some might even find it interesting to pass through metal detectors and a heavy steel door. We’re from a country where not even the police carry weapons, so we tend to be slightly intrigued by the sight of armed guards, as well.

Nevertheless, gold plays the lead. And when you pass through that steel door, that’s what you find.

Gold museum, Cartagena, Colombia

Museo del Oro is brimming with gold: complex filigree patterns, a stunning gold jaguar, and jewellery, heaps of jewellery: bracelets, anklets, penis sheaths. Seems these were all you needed in hot-weather Cartagena in pre-Colombian times. If you were a man, that is. Women wore nipple caps. Gold, of course.

The unique pieces are elaborate works of art, a testament to the imagination and skill of their creators. There’s even a large pot of gold.

Gold Museum, Cartagena, Colombia
Not at the end of the rainbow, but at Museo del Oro

Gold museum practicals:

Museo del Oro is well worth a stop if you’re in Cartagena.

- Museo del Oro is easy to find in the UNESCO-listed historic old city, vis-à-vis Plaza Bolivar
- Entrance is free
- Information is in Spanish, French and English
- I already mentioned a/c – a nice break from 38 °C temperatures

Have you visited a gold museum?

*#FriFotos is a weekly Twitter chat founded by @EpsteinTravels where travellers share their favourite photos. Each week has a different theme. Search #FriFotos on Twitter to see more or to join in.

19 Responses to “Museo del Oro: Gold in Cartagena”

  1. Scarlett Rose 26 October 2012 1843 #

    How interesting!! A museum of gold!!! It is going to be enlisted in my “top priority visit list” for sure. The metal detector & the heavy steel door sounds interesting :-)

    Thanks for introducing us with an interesting place to visit.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 October 2012 1206 #

      You’re welcome :)

  2. ItalianNotes 28 October 2012 1331 #

    I have a friend from Columbia who’s a goldsmith, but apart from her workshop I’ve never visited a gold museum. I’d love to see this one, though.
    ItalianNotes recently posted..A novel guide to Venice

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 October 2012 1207 #

      All sorts of interesting bits of history here. And gold.

  3. Leigh 28 October 2012 1618 #

    I have a two week trip planned to Colombia in February. I have the Gold Museum in Bogota in my sights. I think we’ll probably not go to Cartagena though I’d love to get your take on the don’t miss sights in Colombia.
    Leigh recently posted..A Hike to Upper Calf Creek Falls in the Escalante Wilderness

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 October 2012 1209 #

      Leigh, we were only in Cartagena. I really enjoyed the city, and I’m very curious about the rest of Colombia now, so look forward to reading about your visit. I’ve heard good things about Medellin especially.

  4. Bret @ Green Global Travel 29 October 2012 0136 #

    Loved that museum! Cities are not my favorite places to travel, but Cartagena is definitely among my favorite cities in the world. Did you go to the Spanish Inquisition Museum?
    Bret @ Green Global Travel recently posted..ECO NEWS: 5 Reasons the Romney Platform Is Bad for the Environment

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 October 2012 1209 #

      No, we didn’t. Another good reason to return :)

  5. Toursdesport 29 October 2012 0443 #

    If I visit a Gold Museum, it would be my first time.. Great article!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 October 2012 1210 #

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  6. nomadic translator 29 October 2012 1512 #

    I’ve heard about this museum before — so fascinating. I love to read a lot about pre-Columbian times, as it relates much to the history of my island Puerto Rico. Great post!

    - Maria Alexandra
    nomadic translator recently posted..My student loan debt depression: Desperation, coping and solutions

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 October 2012 1520 #

      I’d really like to visit Puerto Rico :)

  7. Andrea 30 October 2012 1406 #

    I’m also not a fan of the humidity along the Caribbean Coast – this looks like a nice respite!
    Andrea recently posted..Ten Things To Do In Tallinn

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 November 2012 1224 #

      I imagine temperatures in inland Colombia are quite different…

  8. Andrew Graeme Gould 11 November 2012 1415 #

    This post reminds me once again how much I’d like to visit this museum. That desire stems from a visit to an exhibition called Colombian Gold, that I went to half a lifetime ago at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, back in Sydney.
    Andrew Graeme Gould recently posted..San Francisco and Topeka street photography in black and white

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 12 November 2012 1613 #

      Thanks for reading. Almost clear across the continent from you Cartagena is.

  9. InsideJourneys 13 November 2012 1955 #

    I’d sure love to visit this museum.
    Your post reminds me of a gold exhibition I saw years ago — can’t remember if it was in DC or Ottawa — but it’s stayed in my mind since.
    InsideJourneys recently posted..Jamaica Travel News: Green Globe Certifies Tryall Resort

  10. Karen 22 October 2013 1639 #

    Great post! I also enjoyed the museum; it’s such a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Zenu people.
    Karen recently posted..Peruvian Art on a Plate

  11. escapadist 21 February 2014 1227 #

    Wow, awesome collection!
    I knew they had a Museu de Oro in Bogota, but I now see that Cartagena is boasting in gold as well.
    I’ve heard and read that safety in the Caribbean area of Colombia has been improving for quite some time.

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