Visitors Guide to the Rafael Nuñez Home Museum

Rafael Nuñez was the only Cartagena native to serve as president of Colombia.  While president, he helped draft a new constitution.  He was also a journalist and even wrote the Colombian National Anthem.  Today, his home in Cartagena is a museum where you can learn about his life and contributions to national and local history.  Read on for a complete visitors guide to the Casa Rafael Nuñez Museum in Cartagena.

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Photo of the front of the Casa Rafael Nuñez
Read on for a complete visitors guide to Casa Rafael Nuñez Museum.

Who was Rafael Nuñez?

Nuñez was a prominent figure in the second half of the 19th century in Cartagena and Colombia.  This period of Colombian history was marked by intermittent civil war and political fighting between liberals and conservatives.

He wrote for a number of newspapers in Colombia and for a time abroad as well.  He served as a congressman, senator, consul to the United States and the United Kingdom, and Minister of War and Minister of the Treasury before being elected president.

He was first elected president in 1880-82, and re-elected in 1884.  He led a movement known as the Regeneration (La Regeneración) that sought to overthrow the decentralized federalist constitution of 1863.  Liberal forces fought against his government but surrendered in 1885, and a constitutional convention was called.

Portrait photo of Rafael Nuñez with a beard.
Photo of Rafael Nuñez during his presidency. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The passage of the Constitution of 1886 is considered his lasting contribution to Colombian history.  It created a centralized state and changed the official name of the country from the United States of Colombia to the Republic of Colombia.  It reintegrated the Catholic Church as the official religion of the country.  Finally, it made the states departments with governors appointed by the president and extended the presidential term to 6 years.  This Constitution remained in place until 1991 when the current constitution was drafted.

Nuñez was reelected after the passage of the constitution and again in 1892, although he did not take office for the last term.

This highly centralized state and powerful presidency did help bring about peace and stability from the liberal and conservative conflicts of mid-century.  His presidency also saw investment in infrastructure nationwide, and including repairs to the Canal del Dique and the construction of a railroad in Cartagena.

*See also:  Nuñez’s biography on Wikipedia

Nuñez also wrote the Colombian National Anthem “Oh Gloria Inmarcesible.”  Nuñez wrote the poem in the 1860s it was first set to music in honor of the celebration of Cartagena’s Declaration of Independence on November 11, 1887.  The musical adaptation was officially adopted as the national anthem in 1920.

*See also:  Celebrating the Cartagena Independence Festival

What to See at the Rafael Nuñez Museum?

Photo of some furniture in the Rafael Nuñez Museum
The sitting room in the Casa Rafael Nuñez.

The Casa Museo Rafael Nuñez is a pretty historic home with a lovely wrap around balcony.  Inside, you’ll see the pretty courtyards downstairs.  Upstairs, you will see the Nuñez’s quarters as well as the quarters of his second wife Soledad Román, who played an influential role in the politics of the 1880s.

There’s also a neat sitting room with exhibits on the constitution and Nuñez’s role in national politics as well as some examples of his writing for various newspapers on display.  And you can hang out on the sweet balcony.

You can also get a bolí, a popsicle made with milk and Kola Román.  Kola Román was created by Nuñez’s brother in law and the sweet, red soda has long been a local favorite.  It is used in a number of dishes and snacks, including plátano de tentación (plantain cooked in the soda) and the bolís.

The highlight is really just the house itself, and the historic furniture is also pretty neat.  Considering the museum is both free and located just across the street from the walled city, it’s well worth stopping in and walking through.

Where is the Rafael Nuñez House?

The museum is located on the Calle Real in El Cabrero across from the Parque Apolo just outside the walled city.  Be sure to check out the pretty church Ermita del Cabrero in the park as well.

Visitor Information for the Casa Rafael Nuñez Museum

  • Admission is always free.
  • Closed on Mondays
  • Hours
    • Tuesday to Friday:  9 am – 5 pm
    • Saturday and Sunday:  10 am – 4 pm
  • See the museum’s web page on the Ministry of Culture site here.
  • Guided tours are offered at the museum with the expectation of a tip.
  • Estimated time to visit:  30 minutes

The Red Hop on Hop Off Tourist Bus does stop at the Rafael Nuñez House.  With a ticket good for 48 hours and a number of good stops, it’s a good value to get around to the main sites in Cartagena.  You can buy your ticket online through Viator or through GetYourGuide.

There you have it.  A visitors guide to the Casa Museo Rafael Nuñez.  If you do stop in to see this historic home I hope this helped you plan your visit and you enjoy it.

Cheers and Happy Exploring!

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