Lesson 508: Colombia: Cartagena and a Hidden Palenque

Colombia’s Caribbean coast was once a source of the wealth of the Caribbean. The city of Cartagena was the most important
City in the entire region. Now a home to monuments a half millennium old, the city and coast are home to a wide variety of
cultures, including a palenque, or village founded by escaped slaves. They continue to practice a self-sufficient way of life.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about Colombia, its history and the wide variety of cultures.

Social Studies Standards

Culture: B, C

Discussion Prompts

  • In the video, the anthropologist states that Colombia is the most ecologically diverse country in the Americas. How did she justify her assertions?
  • The Spaniards built a fortress in Cartagena to protect their wealth from pirates. What kind of riches did they have to protect? What are their reasons for saying that? Are the reasons justifiable?
  • The host and the historian talked about how Mexico and Colombia had one person that cried for independence for lower taxes and better government. How did independence in your country come about? Was there evidence of a cry?
  • Intriguing monuments, architecture, wagon, cars, people, art, and food are common visuals in this video. What intrigued you the most about Colombia? Why?

Lesson Activities

  • The Spaniards thought Cartagena was the best location for a fortress.Draw a map including Colombia, Panama and Venezuela, highlighting the strategic location of the fortress, and illustrating why that location was a better location than Colombia’s two neighbors, Panama and Venezuela with a note explaining your reasoning.
  • Several countries in the Americas have fortresses, just like Cartagena. Compare these monuments and create a guide for tourists to visit them. Include how the people will get there (boat or plane) and a map with the route.
  • The host talked about that either ox or slave blood had to be in the mortar to build the fortress. Imagine that tourists heard about that, and they are boycotting the location. Create a flier to help stop tourists from boycotting.
  • You have been asked to write a series of short stories for your school newspaper promoting Colombian local history. The topics are ecological diversity, architecture, and palenques.


  • assertion
  • biodiversity
  • boisterous
  • ecological
  • flamboyant
  • fortress
  • insular
  • intrigue
  • palenque
  • transcontinental


In the Americas Season 5 Lesson Episode 8