250 km to the south of Cartagena is Santa Cruz de Mompox, one of the most beautiful colonial cities of Colombia. This city was founded in 1530 and was for a long time, an important river port between the coast and Botogá. In the eighteenth century, however, the Magdalena river changed its course and Mompox became isolated. There are beautiful varied churches and a cemetery that is also worth a visit. It is the most "Macondian" I have visited throughout Colombia. Getting there involves several transportation changes - bus or motorized canoe to ferry, and from ferry to taxi - but it´s definitely worth it.
Municipal Cemetery [poi = 125164] Mompox [/ poi] is moving, especially if you go at dusk when the locals visit the graves of their loved ones to light candles. The white tombs with some scattered statues and artificial bouquets are very impressive. Built one on top of each other, over the years they have formed true walls of tombs.
This is the most important temple in this colonial Colombian town and is listed as one of the 10 jewels of religious art in Colombia. Built in 1613, the octagonal Baroque tower really stands out with its beautiful balcony. The pillars are all wooden instead of the typical stone or brick.
This is the main square of this [poi = 77280] colonial village [/ poi], where the first Spanish settlement was developed. The Church of the Immaculate Conception is on one side, and the Market building on the other. The Magdalena River is just behind, which rises with the flow, reducing the original size of this plaza. In the middle of the square stands an immemorial time cross whose origin has never been known.
A statue in honor of the Liberator Simón Bolívar takes considerable importance for being the first place in the New Kingdom of Granada where he proclaimed absolute independence from Spain under the slogan "Be Free or Die". It differs from other places because it highlights more the green of the trees than the buildings.
I don't think there's a single neighbor in beautiful Mompox who doesn't have a rocker. This wooden chair-hammock is as traditional in the village as [poi = 125695] Easter [/ poi] or the delicious [poi = 124612] fried River catfish [/ poi]. The chairs are built in the town by eminent cabinetmakers, and is the place of honor and rest in the halls of the colonial houses. The rocker takes center stage in the afternoon, when the heat isn't so strong and there's the sidewalks are in the shade. The the Momposinos take them out to the street and enjoy the fresh breeze blowing from the river.
The sleeping and precious [poi = 125164] Mompox [/ poi] wakes up once a year. Since before 1643, during holy week the town is transformed. Today Momposina Easter is one of the most colorful and impressive days in Colombia, bringing hundreds of visitors. Clinging to the old traditions and memories of the splendor that the town had for three centuries, momposinos give everything of themselves and show a religious fervor and poignant devotion. I was lucky enough to be in Mompox few weeks ago, when the people were showing the processions from Holy Week 2010. What I saw shocked me to the core, it was like moving to a very deep and ancient Spain. The key role played by children, dressed as Nazarenes, really drew my attention with their small, incredibly beautiful steps. The photos of them are so serious and divine, that I took at the [poi = 122636] Church of Santa Barbara [/ poi], from where many of the processions of the elders, who were practicing without their clothes Nazarenes in the town's main street.
As I mentioned, the children of [poi = 125164] Mompox [/ poi] have a major role during the traditional and poignant [poi = 125695] Easter Momposina [/ poi]. They wear small, Nazarenes dresses like the adults, walk in an incredible procession with careful steps. Painted in bright colors, small sculptures show moments of the life of Jesus in amazing detail.
Of the six churches in [poi = 125164] Mompox [/ poi], San Francisco, located near the [poi = 125168] coastal market [/ poi] - is the oldest. Small and simple, painted a shade of maroon, the colonial church was built in 1580. San Francisco has beautiful polychrome wooden altarpieces inside, but just see if you can time it at any of the rare times when the church is actually open due to mass.
The Conception is the largest and most important church of [poi = 125164] Mompox [/ poi]. It's in the Plaza de Mompox, a large square near the river. The church, which is usually only open during the hours of worship, is more than 300 years old, but was almost entirely rebuilt in the nineteenth century.
Another church in this [poi = 77280] small town [/ poi] marked by Catholic churches. Someone who desn't know the place might think that [poi = 79624] 7 churches [/ poi] mens the village is big, but nothing is further from reality. Almost walkable from end to end in just over half an hour. Built by the Dominicans, but was rebuilt in 1856, after a near collapse. It has a [poi = 80109] Cemetery [/ poi]. Especially important in the processions of Holy Week and well into the morning of Holy Saturday.
The six churches and a colonial chapel demonstrate the religious nature that characterizes this beautiful colonial village. The Church of Santa Barbara is the best known. Its balconies and Moorish style octagonal tower make it unique. The Church of San Francisco is from the mid sixteenth century so it´s the oldest of the city. The interior is quite interesting because of the side altars. The Church of St. Augustine is the church of the Holy Sepulchre which is carried in procession through the main streets during Holy Week. The Church of La Concepción is the biggest one and is usually open to the public. Lastly, the other two churches are the Santo Domingo and San Juan de Dios. All of Mompox is charming. You must take a stroll through its streets and be careful not to miss the Calle Real del Medio, the main street of the city.
In the morning, when the heat is not at its strongest the colorful Mompox market bustles into life. For years this market has been selling vegetables, fruits, fish and meat from The Oven, a fertile land next to the river. Sitting on the sidewalk or behind rustic wooden stalls are various vendors, especially women, offering pork, a variety of fish, fruits and exotic vegetables. The site is very picturesque and colorful. The market is entirely local and small, you can really see the personality of the people here.