The Gold Museum in Cartagena displays examples of the lovely and intricate goldsmith work of Colombia’s indigenous peoples.  Visiting the Museo del Oro in Cartagena will give you a glimpse of these ancient gold artifacts and a chance to learn a bit about the indigenous cultures that crafted them.  Best of all, the museum is free.  Read on for a guide to the museum including what you will see, how to get there, and visitor information.

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A bowl holding examples of gold artifacts on display in the Museo del Oro in Cartagena.
A bowl of gold on display inside the Cartagena Gold Museum.

What to See at the Gold Museum in Cartagena

Cartagena’s Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) is sponsored by Colombia’s national bank and exhibits preserved examples of Colombia’s indigenous people’s gold work.  It isn’t even a fraction as big as the much larger Gold Museum in Bogotá, but it still has some neat artifacts on display.  If you aren’t able to see the more impressive museum in Bogotá, it is worth a visit, especially since admission to Cartagena’s Museo del Oro is free.

Those artifacts are mostly examples of the expert goldsmith skills of the indigenous people who inhabited Colombia before the arrival of Europeans.  There are also some ceramics, including burial urns, on display.

The exhibits, which have full English translations, also provide some interesting insight into the smithing processes used, the cultures, traditions, and way of life of the indigenous peoples, and the history of the Spanish conquest.

Most of the artifacts on display were crafted by the Zenú people, who inhabited the coastal inland plains to the south of Cartagena.  It was the elaborate gold work of the Zenú that attracted the Spanish conquistadores.

The Spanish, including Cartagena’s founder Pedro de Heredia, led countless expeditions into Zenú territory to steal the gold by raiding villages and grave robbing.  It was this gold that helped fund the building of Cartagena and its emergence as a major trading port.

There are some really neat artifacts on display, including some that show off the Zenú’s unique gold weave patterns.  My favorite designs were the cool examples of gold animal figurines.  Finally, downstairs, there’s a short 6 minute video available in Spanish, English, and French, that discusses the importance of the flooding of the rivers on Colombia’s coastal Caribbean plains and its effects.

A display case full of hanging gold designs that show the weave patterns on display at the Gold Museum in Cartagena.
The unique gold weave patterns on display at the Cartagena Gold Museum.

How to Get to Cartagena’s Gold Museum

The museum is centrally located inside the walled city on Bolivar Plaza opposite the Palacio de la Inquisición Museum.  It is about a 5 minute walk from the Clocktower and is housed around the corner from the governor’s offices.

Visitor Information for Cartagena’s Gold Museum

Cost of Admission:  Entrance to the museum is free to all visitors year round.  There are guided tours available at a price.

Operating Hours:  The museum is closed on Mondays, open 9-5 Tuesday-Saturday, and 10-3 on Sundays.

Time to Visit:  Expect to spend from half an hour to a little over an hour if you read all the exhibits.

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