Marooned on a freshwater island in the vast low-lying wetlands of the Rio Magdalena’s eastern branch, MOMPOX (also spelt Mompós) was founded in 1537 by Don Alonso de Heredia (brother of Cartagena’s founder). It served as the lynchpin for the mighty river’s trade network between coastal Cartagena and the country’s interior, and remained one of Colombia’s most prosperous commercial centres until the silt-heavy river changed its course in the late nineteenth century and Mompox was left to languish as a forgotten backwater. Simón Bolívar raised an army here and Mompox was later the first town in Colombia to declare complete independence from Spain in 1810.

Its beauty has remained practically untouched ever since and UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1995 in recognition of its outstanding colonial architecture. It was also the setting for Gabriel García Márquez’s classic novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Time seems to stand still here: locals unhurriedly putter around the unpaved streets, cats doze in the shade of the tombs at the cemetery and fishing boats ply the network of rivers and lakes. The town’s remoteness has kept it out of mainstream travel but its appeal as the “anti-Cartagena” – architecture to rival the coastal city but none of the hustle – has seen a recent influx of visitors.

Mompox’s grid of streets stretches out alongside the river and is easy to explore on foot. Its sprawl of grand Catholic churches and elaborate colonial mansions is a constant reminder of the town’s faded glory and wealth. The town is also famous for its wooden rocking chairs, which residents drag on to the streets in the evenings to watch the world go by, as well as filigree silver and gold work sold around Calle Real del Medio, and Vinimompox – fruit wines made from banana, guava, orange and tamarind.

The best way to explore is to wander the streets, peeking at the whitewashed colonial houses with wrought-iron grilles, intricately carved doorways, clay-tile roofs and fragrant flower-draped balconies.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Colombia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

6 reasons to visit Bogotá: South America’s underrated capital

6 reasons to visit Bogotá: South America’s underrated capital

Polluted, rainy and business-orientated. Let’s face it, a trip to Bogotá hardly sounds appealing. And many travellers don’t bother to probe much further th…

18 Apr 2018 • Olivia Rawes insert_drive_file Article
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
Providencia: an introduction to Colombia’s Caribbean island

Providencia: an introduction to Colombia’s Caribbean island

Colombia meets Jamaica? Not quite, but two competing images loom large over the Caribbean island of Providencia: Bob Marley, adopted saint of the local Raizal p…

11 Mar 2016 • Stephen Keeling insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs