The Story of Cartagena Door-Knockers

It doesn’t take long to notice the many amazing doors in Cartagena’s old city.  They are either brightly colored or pastel, weathered or new, but always grand in size and style.   They frame out the beautiful Spanish colonial architecture and tell a story of the social and professional history of the families that lived there.

I love the way so many colors can be right next to each other, muted, bright, old and new and yet it seems to fit so perfectly.  Through my time here, I have learned about the significance of the doors and more importantly the door knockers to the history of Cartagena.  They have intrigued me since I first strolled down the many cobble stone streets.

Each door knocker symbolizes the history of the family that lived in the house.  Lions, lizards, mermaids and more – each represents a certain profession or social lineage.

Lions:  One of the most common door knockers, the Lion is associated with strength and leadership and symbolized families related to the Army.

Lizards:  Associated with Blue Blood and Royalty, the lizard signified members of the royal family or those with legitimate connections.

Mermaids, sea creatures or fish:  This makes up another large portion of door knockers.  They represent merchant marines and other working class professionals bringing in goods via the sea.

I have yet to discover the significance of the Bumble Bee knocker, but from what I can gather it holds a meaning of community.   There are not many around town, but I have seen a few.  The door knockers I know exist but that I have yet to find are the hand or hands, which symbolized clergyman.  I’ll update when I come across one.

There are a few stores that sell replica door knockers, and when I went on a hunt for one, I was faced with a dilemma about which one to choose.  There are so many beautiful options, just try to choose a favorite.

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My name is Meghan, and this is the journey of our little family who left perfect suburban America for tropical Cartagena, Colombia. I plan on keeping it truthful: the good, the bad and everything in between. Follow our expat life, raising little kids in a new culture, while trying to keep ahold of our roots.

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