Shield Of Cartagena: History And Meaning

The  Cartagena coat of arms  is the insignia that represents the city of Cartagena de Indias. Together with the flag and the anthem, they constitute its official symbols. It was adopted in the year 1812, when Cartagena de Indias became an Independent Sovereign State from the Spanish Crown.

This shield shows an indigenous woman sitting on a palm tree with a pomegranate fruit in her right hand; a bird is feeding on this fruit.

In her left hand the woman has a piece of a broken chain, the other half is on the floor. In the background you can see the Cerro de la Popa, one of the most representative landscapes of Cartagena.

This patriotic symbol represents that freedom and independence had reached the city. This territory was the first city in the Viceroyalty of New Granada to achieve its sovereignty.

The flag, the shield and its anthem, constitute the social symbols. It is also called the coat of arms of the Indies.


The history of the Cartagena coat of arms is basically divided into two parts: a coat of arms from the colonial period and another for the republican period, which spans from the Independence of Colombia to the present day.

Colonial Shield

In the year 1574, King Felipe II of Spain granted Cartagena de Indias a coat of arms.

This happened because the city had gained great importance for Spain. Its inhabitants had faithfully defended Cartagena from a large number of pirates and thugs who had wanted to steal this territory on several occasions, so Don Felipe wanted to grant it this honor.

This shield represented two red lions standing on their hind legs, holding a green cross between them with their front legs.

The second was golden yellow and above the cross was a red head among the heads of the lions. It also had many ornaments.

It can be said that the lions represented the brave inhabitants of Cartagena, who supported the Republic of Spain (symbolized by the crown). This supportive relationship was represented by this emblem.

This coat of arms was used in all the official acts of the city from December 23, 1574 to 1811. It is known as the colonial shield because it represented the city in colonial times.

Although this shield has been in disuse for many years, this emblem is also recognized as part of the history of Cartagena. Its inhabitants declare that denying it would be like forgetting the almost 300 years in which this territory was part of the Spanish Crown.

This shield also has a historical importance for this city; Although it has not been used for so long, its value is of equal importance to the shield that was created later.

Republican Shield 

After the proclamation of the independence of Cartagena and its province in 1811, a new shield was adopted. The idea was that this new shield would faithfully represent the city’s new ideals of independence and freedom.

At the beginning of the year 1811, a shield was formed which consisted of three crabs, a pomegranate fruit, and some other symbols that alluded to the American Union and its Independence. The crabs alluded to the original name that the natives had given Cartagena.

It was similar to the Nueva Granada school, a city of which Cartagena was a part at one point in its history.

But this emblem was replaced by the shield that is known today. This shield shows an Indian woman perched under a coconut palm tree. In her right hand she has an open pomegranate fruit and a turpial bird is feeding on it. In her other hand she has a shattered chain.

In the background you could keep the representative Cerro de la Popa and a blue sky or blue sea. This shield is in the shape of a circle. It has a round gold-colored frame around it with the inscription ‘Cartagena de Indias’.

On November 17, 1811, the official coat of arms was institutionalized by the authorities. It was used publicly and officially for the first time on June 14, 1812. In this debut it was used on the cover of the Constitution of the State of Cartagena.

During this time the shield was also present in the coins used in the city.

However, shortly afterwards the use of the shield was abandoned until the year 1819, specifically until the total independence of Colombia. From that moment the shield was popularized as it is known in the day.


The shield represents the autonomy and sovereignty of the Independent Province of Cartagena. The indigenous woman symbolizes a free America and autonomous inhabitants; the chains on her feet represent that the chains of oppression had finally been cut from Spain.

On the other hand, the palm tree and the sea represent the Colombian Caribbean. The original name of Nueva Granada originates from the pomegranate fruit.

In the background, Cerro de la Popa is one of the most representative symbols of the city, which is why it was included in the shield.

The turpial is a very common bird in Colombia, so it was also used in the banner.

Additionally, the shield has the inscription the ‘State of Cartagena de Indias’ which represents the official name of the State and the year in which the Republic was established.


Originally, the Cartagena coat of arms was intended to be used as a seal for official documents and a Postal Tax was to be charged on all documents that were stamped with it.

This measure was commonly adopted by the Independent States to collect taxes and cover their own expenses.


  1. Cartagena de Indias (2016). Recovered from
  2. Symbols of Cartagena. Recovered from
  3. Symbols of Cartagena de Indias. Recovered from
  4. Symbols and names of Cartagena. Recovered from
  5. Cartagena shield: history and meaning (2017). Recovered from

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