To find out how to get to La Casa Amarilla please visit the Getting here page which lists numerous ways to get here.
Mompox is perhaps one of the key touristic destinations in Colombia for a variety of reasons not solely because of its importance in the history of Colombia. The very fact that it can draw in clientele from every walk of life and interest people of all backgrounds through its emphasis on architecture, literature and poetry, history and nature in particular bird-watching makes it a special place.
Stating to a visitor that Mompox is not a place “to do” but represents an “atmosphere” perhaps is not enough to get people to come and visit the town, but in reality, this is exactly what the town is, an “ambiente”. It is place which evokes a time past, of legends, ghost tales and indigenous/shamanistic beliefs that have been mixed with a contemporary culture of Catholicism and literature.
Introduction to Mompos
Once the tourist arrives, domestic or international, with the right directions he/she quickly becomes enamoured with the slow pace of life, the lizards skimming across the river’s surface along the Albarrada, the bats swooping down after dusk, sipping a cold juice in the Plaza Santo Domingo and the chatting to Momposinos.
Here, you are harassed neither by street vendors nor mime artists, here you are accepted as a visitor who has made a special effort to come and see a forgotten Colombia.
As Gabriel García Márquez wrote in El general en su laberinto (1989) “Mompox no existe. A veces sonamos con ella, pero no existe.” This is a place of dreams.
The most visited places in Mompox are: casa de la cultura, casa del tedeum, cemetery, portales de la marquesa, casa del recuerdo, casa alta y casa baja, fuerte San Anselmo, various churches, pozo de la noria, la albarrada y the botanical garden el cuchubo.
Quite clearly one of the key attractions for visitors to Mompox is its well maintained colonial architecture. Just wandering the streets one moves along what was one of colonial Colombia’s key ports (the others being Cartagena and Honda). With constructions dating back to the 16th Century Mompox, due to its isolated location, has remained perfectly intact as a Caribbean colonial town. From the workmanship on the rooftops, the small tree shaded plazas and the symbolism forged into the ironwork around the windows, enthusiasts in colonial architecture will not be disappointed.
As one of the key ports in the time of the colony and beyond, it could be said that Mompox represents a microcosm of Colombia. After all, it was here that Simon Bolivar; the Liberator of northern South America raised an army of 400 Momposinos to march upon Caracas and led him to declare “Si a Caracas debo mi vida, a Mompox debo la Gloria”. Later, Mompox was the first town in Colombia to declare absolute independence from Spain. In more contemporary times, Mompox visibly displayed the divisions between liberals and conservatives as the town was quite literally divided in two.
Located in a key region of the Depresion Momposina, an enormous area of low wetlands (not dissimilar to the pantanals in Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia) located between the Caribbean coast, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the interior of the country, Mompox on this island, is ideally located as a jumping off point for bird-watching excursions. Local guides can be hired to navigate the waterways and vast lakes nearby such as the Cienaga de Pjino and surrounding communities often referred to as having “amphibious” inhabitants for the amount of time they spend in the river!
Semana Santa and Religion
Easter in Mompox needs no introduction. Quite simply alongside the processions in the South of the country in Popayan, Mompox has the most austere and traditional Easter week celebrations on the Colombian Caribbean coast if not in the country as a whole.
Mompox is also recognised for its plethora of churches. Visitors are often overwhelmed at the variety and how unique they are. Notable churches include the Santa Barbara, the San Francisco and the San Agustin. We must not overlook the cemetery either which perhaps could be said to resemble a smaller more chaotic version of the Recoleta in Buenos Aires.
Literature and Poetry
Perhaps this should come higher up the list! Any discerning traveller to Colombia is he or she has done some background reading will have heard of the Colombian Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez who hails from the Caribbean region. Reading Love in the Time of the Cholera or 100 Years of Solitude may transport you to a place defined by the magic realism of his texts….we say that Mompox is that place! Also not to be forgotten is the father of black south American poetry, Candelario Obeso, himself a Momposino, buried in the town’s cemetery but certainly representing a strong and informed voice regarding the history and nature of the Magdalena River.
Mompox is recognised for its world famous silver filigree jewellery. Formerly the artisans worked in gold but this is becoming less frequent. The work is all painstakingly done by hand, coiling silver to make incredibly intricate, ornate and precious earrings, bracelets, necklaces, broaches and rings. One can visit the workshops to see how this is done and then of course haggle for a good price later!
This region in Bolivar is known for Cumbia music and while the raucous accordion-heavy Vallenato beats take centre stage at this point in time there are several very famous and well worthwhile Cumbia festivals in the surrounding area, most notably in El Banco, Magdalena, a short trip from Mompox. This festival takes place in the last weeks in June.
While not everyone will be enamoured with the idea of a bullfight, the corralejas are much more than that. These are town fiestas that are unstoppable, loud music, cowboys, bullfights and partying long into the night. If you want to experience something a little more unusual, then the corraleja is for you.
Conservation of Traditions
As many of our visitors have noted, spending any amount of time in Mompox brings one to realise that here is a town that still belongs to its inhabitants. By promoting small scale tourism you are helping the town to conserve its traditions. By showing an interest in its architecture, history and culture you are confirming to the local people that here they play an important role in contemporary Colombia and its touristic development.