As you may have noticed in many old cities in Colombia, like Jardin and Santa Fe, Colombians have amazing doors. The popular style in these old cities is gigantic doors, many with smaller doors inserted into the huge door, and the doors are highly colorful with intricate ironwork decor.
In Cartagena, though the fancy ironwork is there, the focus turns to amazing, metal, animalistic door knockers. These antique door knockers are amazing and you can’t walk far through the old town without realizing the amount of lizards, fish, and even some owls that stand guard on the front of the beautiful exteriors.
So of course, I took photos for you. Here are some amazing doors, and maybe some cool home-decor ideas:
This is some kind of masonic door, recessed into the building. You can get a glimpse inside of the open courtyards that are a traditional feature in Cartagenian homes.
And here is a close-up of the masonic-style metalwork:
This is a fish knocker. Some of the artists opted to create artistic, over realistic, renditions of the animals. This is one of the more abstract animal door knockers we saw. You can see other metal ‘nipples’ at he top. The door is simple yet elegantly designed.
Here is one of the owls we saw. There aren’t as many owls, but it is again surrounded by the ‘nipples’ and has a beautiful patina on it.
This is another very artistic door knocker. It has a very liquid and water-god feel to it, and you can see the circling fishes behind, and part of the 2 cherub-like bodies. It is like a water-deity is spitting forth the sea and people. And again, the ‘nipple’ makes an appearance.
As I mentioned before, giant doors with sub-doors inset into them are common in most old Colombian cities. This is an example of these types of doors. You can see on the right, the outline of the smaller ‘inner’ door set into the huge door. The inner door is the size of a regular, American, household door, so you can imagine the scale of how enormous the larger main doors are.
This also shows the bright colors typical of antique Colombian towns. Though this door is a simple white, it offsets the bright yellow frame and sea-blue exterior walls. Though this door doesn’t have a knocker, you can see the metal work and patterned designs that are common in Cartagena.
Here you can see another full door, with inner door, and a lion head knocker. These knockers are sometimes rather high placed (hence in some of my photos you can tell I am looking up at them). Outdoor gardens, like the one pictured below, are also common and the flowers are used as exterior decor. You can also see the openness above the door well in this photo. It is so hot and humid in Cartagena, and these buildings are often centuries old, so it is very common to have lots of airflow, because these homes were built before A/C.
But the most famous type, and from walking around I will guess to say, most common type, of animal door knocker is The Lizard. There are tons of lizard door knockers in Cartagena, and some look like the small lizards that scurry around the city (the ones you see out of the corner of your eye along building walls), while other knockers look like iguanas.
The one below looks more like an iguana. Not the small pet store kind, rather the giant iguanas you see walking around in Colombia.
This one actually resembles a Bearded Dragon or Fringe Lizard (both native to Australia, and do not live in South America), but I am assuming it is, instead, a more artistic rendering of an iguana.
As you can see in almost all these photos, the ‘nipples’ are also overly common in Colombia. (They actually exist on the door in the first lizard photo too, but I cropped them out). The doors themselves are amazing, and if you Google “Cartagena Doors” you can see many other photos of some of the same doors. Cartagena is not a place you go specifically for the ornate door knockers, but you will end up marveling at them anyway.
I am a freelance travel and music photographer and creator of GoingNomadic.com. I love music, food, and exploring cities without guidebooks. I've flown a helicopter, hitchhiked down the east coast USA, and once snuck into the back of a zoo (in Serbia) and pet a lion. I am always up for an adventure, and sometimes I videotape them.