Santa Marta Cathedral

Walk around the cathedral that holds the remains of the city’s founder and claims to be the oldest church in the country. 

The Santa Marta Cathedral stakes its claim as the oldest church in Colombia and houses the remains of the city’s founder. The church has been renovated many times over the centuries and comprises several architectural styles. The church sits in the city’s main plaza, surrounded by restaurants, bars and other historical buildings. Make this church your reference point since it stands out as a stark contrast against the small buildings around the city.

Admire the white façade of colonial design. Take photos of the immaculate church against the bright blue sky. Marvel at the large tower with a spire. The cathedral has many windows and a large wooden portal as its main entrance.

See the ashes of the founder of Santa Marta, Rodrigo de Bastidas, on the left as you walk into the cathedral. The Spanish conquistador died in the early 16th century after mapping a large portion of the continent’s northern coast. The cathedral is also the initial burial site for Simón Bolívar, the military leader who led several South American countries to independence.

Learn about the history of Santa Marta through the various plaques and commemorations inside the church while you relish the refreshing shelter from the midday heat. Gaze up at the elaborate chandeliers hanging from the arched ceiling. The cathedral is full of arches, domes, columns and an elaborate altar in the center.

The cathedral was built in 1765 and took a further 30 years to complete due to constant attacks by English, Dutch and French pirates. They ransacked and burned the town on more than 20 occasions.

The Santa Marta Cathedral is located in the Historic Center of Santa Marta. It is three blocks east from the main beach and the International Marina. Take a 45-minute bus journey from the city’s main bus terminal to the center of Santa Marta. You can also take an 11.2-mile (18-kilometer) taxi journey from the Simón Bolívar Airport.

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