Santa Marta is Colombia's oldest city, situated at the mouth of the Rio Manzanares and created by the Spanish conquistadors in 1525. It was later overshadowed by Cartagena, so doesn't have the same colonial heritage, but is a pleasant and historically important place to visit nevertheless.
It was in Santa Marta that the great South American liberator, Simón Bolivar, died in 1830 - and the Plaza Bolivar, in the centre of Santa Marta, features a statue of him. On the plaza, too, is the Casa de la Aduana, a residence of the Chief Justice of the Inquisition that later became the city's Custom House. On the outskirts of Santa Marta is Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, the mansion where Bolivar spent his final days, with paintings and other memorabilia on display.