The Cartagena pictured in Gabriel García Márquez’s novel
“Love in the Time of Cholera”
The places in Cartagena where the characters from one of the main works by the Colombian Nobel Prize in Literature winner lived their love story
Plaza Fernández de Madrid
In the book: Fermina Daza, the love interest of protagonist Florentino Ariza, lived in an old manor located at a plaza known as Parque de los Evangelicos. After their first encounter, he sits on the most hidden bench in the locale every day just to watch her walk by wearing her school uniform.
In real life: the plaza is a hangout for tourists and the city’s residents, who sit there to just shoot the breeze and enjoy the balconies filled with flowers. Fermina’s house is the one next to the Alliance Française.
Portal de los Dulces
In the book: the locale is portrayed in the book as the Portal de los Escribanos, and it marks the phase when Florentino starts to daydream. There, under the arches and almond trees, Fermina receives her first letter from Florentino.
In real life: located at Plaza de los Coches, the famous portal has this name because of the amount of sweets vendors that work there. From there, you have a spectacular view of the Torre del Reloj.
Catedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandría
In the book: the church bells are often the soundtrack to the love story. In the locale, after the mass celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the death of Fermina’s husband, she begins to reconnect with Florentino.
In real life: Cartagena’s main religious temple began construction in 1577 and it was attacked by Francis Drake in 1586. The cathedral was completed 84 years later. The audio guided tours are offered in five languages: Spanish, English, French, Italian, and German. Calle de los Santos de Piedra, Carrera 4
In the book: the starting point for the city streets and where Palacio de la Inquisición, a structure that inspired García Márquez to create Colegio de la Presentación de la Santísima Virgen, is located. In the school, one of the nuns caught Fermina answering a love letter, changing her life and keeping her apart from Florentino for 51 years, nine months and four days.
In real life: extremely busy during the day, its green plaza features monuments, a water fountain, and benches that invite people for a lazy afternoon. The park is also filled with vendors selling all kinds of things. At the end of the day, it’s not uncommon to see groups of people presenting the local folklore with dance and music performances in exchange for a few pesos from tourists. Plaza de La Proclamación
Teatro Adolfo Mejía
In the book: at this theater, Florentino Ariza watched the poetry contest Los Juegos Florales. There he met Sara Noriega, one of the few women that could help him forget about Fermina, even if just for a moment. On the occasion, the protagonist saw his beloved at a distance after years apart.
In real life: it was built over the ruins of the old Igreja de la Merced. The splendor of its interior, with frescoes on the ceiling and red velvet chairs, is worth the visit. In addition to its rare architectural beauty, the theater hosts several dance performances, concerts and plays. Calle de la Chicheria, 38-10
Gabriel García Márquez
The Colombian Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014) was the author of true masterpieces of Spanish language literature, including the novels Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude. He is considered one of the great names in 20th-century literature and, in 1982, García Márquez won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his complete oeuvre.
Text Carlos Serrano Photos: Simon Plestenjak and Getty Images