Founded in 1537 on a bank of the Magdalena River, the old center of Santa Cruz de Mompox, Colombia, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. During colonial times, Mompox (also spelled Mompos), located 317 mi/511 km from Bogota, served as the primary port on the Magdalena River, Colombia's main fluvial artery. Today, its perfectly preserved colonial architecture invites visitors to journey into the past. The time-warp town is virtually landlocked and is surrounded by the swamps of the Caribbean lowlands.
There are six churches in this small and charming city, the oldest of which was constructed in 1541, the "newest" in 1819. Characterized by a deeply rooted Catholic faith, Mompox celebrates many religious festivities throughout the year. The colorful celebration of Holy Week is by far the largest and most popular, drawing hundreds of visitors from around the country.
Mompox is known for its gold and silver jewelry. The art of filigree—the elaboration of delicate gold and silver fabrics incorporated into beautiful jewels—is a signature of the city. Tourists might enjoy seeing the traditional little gold fish that were Col. Aureliano Buendia's obsession in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. These remarkable gems, immortalized through literature, are now an iconic image of the city and the country. In 1987, the movie Chronicle of a Death Foretold, whose story is taken from another Garcia Marquez novel, was filmed on locations in Mompox, which instills a surreal sensation of stepping into the pages of one of Garcia Marquez's magic realist novels.
The town is way off the beaten track, but can be reached by bus from the east or a combination of bus and ferry from Cartagena or Bucaramanga.
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