architecture is justifiably famous, protected
by UNESCO preservation orders, with some edifices
dating back nearly five centuries. But the most
eye-catching buildings date back a mere century
or so, and nearly all of them were built by
one man: Luis Felipe Jaspe.
was born in 1846, one of four sons. Jaspe and
Simon Bolivar share a common ancestor, through
Don Domingo Jaspe y Ponte, Basque emigrants
who came to Colombia circa 1559. A teacher of
philosophy, geography, physics and mathematics,
Jaspe's career spanned more than 40 years.
A quick glance at the long list of buildings
he was associated with soon demonstrate why
he is one of Cartagena's most illustrious citizens:
The Camellon de los Martires or Walkway
of the Martyres, occupies the area between Parque
Centenario and the Muelle de los Pegasos, the
exact place where the Independence leaders were
executed, was built in 1871.
Parque del Centenario completed in 1912
to celebrate the Centenary of Independence.
Jaspe designed the park's monuments Estatua
La Libertad, La Juventud, and El Trabajo
- the Statues of Liberty, Youth and Labour -
made from imported Italian marble, as were the
busts of the Martires.
Parque Fernanadez de Madrid, completed
Torre del Reloj, or Clock Tower, built
above the much older gates to the city in 1888.
Parque Bolivar, perhaps the most beautiful
of all of Cartagena's public parks, containing
a huge bronze statue of Simon Bolivar and completely
restored in 2000, it was originally built by
Jaspe in 1896.
The magnificent Teatro Heredia. For many
years Cartagena had no theatre, just a huge
salon called El Coliseo, where you had to supply
your own seating. The local business leaders
commissioned Jaspe to design a new theatre,
6 years in construction, which was originally
called Teatro Municipal, but later changed to
Teatro Heredia. It was opened on 11 November
1911, a date marking the Centenary of Independence.
Its ornate interior is one of the most breathtaking
in the world, and is probably Jaspe's crowning
is also noted as a builder who completed other
people's designs, and a restorer of older colonial
works. He built the beautiful marble Obelisco,
commemorating the names of the proclaimers of
the Act of Independence of 1811, which was designed
by his friend Pedro Malabet. Following the designs
of Nicloas Samer, a German architect, he built
the old Banco de Bolivar which is today the
Bartolome Calvo Library. Jaspe re-built
the Church of San Diego in 1905, which today
houses the Escuela de Bellas Artes. He
built several mansions in Manga, notably Casa
Niza and Villa Susana, which today
is better known as the old Magali Paris building.
The Ermita de Cabrero was another of
Some of Jaspe's major works have been demolished:
the original Puente Roman bridge, that
linked Cartagena to Manga has been replaced,
and the ugly Centro de Covenciones stands where
his grand Mercado Publico once stood.
Luis Felipe Jaspe died in 1918. Many descendants
of Jaspe still live in Cartagena. He is buried
in Manga's Cementerio de Santa Cruz,
a cemetery that he himself designed.
Glen David Short is a freelance writer
based in Cartagena. His new adventure travelogue,
`An Odd Odyssey: California to Colombia
by bus and boat' has just been published
by Trafford Publishing.
B A C K -
and Photos Copyright 2005 Glen David Short