Mompox : History
Founded in 1537 by Don Alfonso de Heredia (brother of Pedro de Heredia, founder of Cartagena) and a descendant of the Malibu Indians, Mompós or Mompox was named after a Cacique (native) called “Mompoj”. His tribe lived where the town is today. Mompox was then an important centre of the Inquisition, from where those condemned for blasphemy, heresy or other crimes were sent.
The Jesuits present in the city also created the San Carlos College, a cultural and philosophical centre for the city’s youth. It was at this time that the city specialised in goldsmithing. The quality of the jewellery has always attracted many visitors throughout history.
The city was first and foremost the crossroads of all religious brotherhoods, which came here to trade. Mompox was the second most important trading centre after Cartagena and had the advantage of being protected from Caribbean pirates. Mompox was ideally situated on the way between the Caribbean and the Andes.
Today, goldsmithing remains an important source of income for the town, along with fishing and tourism, which is not very developed, making Mompós an authentic destination off the beaten track. In fact, the centre of the town was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. If you go through the streets of San Francisco or San Miguel, you can still admire the work of the masters of traditional filigree goldsmithing.
When to visit Mompox?
The best time to visit Mompox is from December to April as it rains much less. However, from May to June and from September to November, the rains are much heavier and more frequent, sometimes causing flooding. Holy Week is a very good time to visit the city, which comes alive with many cultural and religious events.
Climate in Mompox
In Mompós, summers are short, hot and dry; winters are short, hot and humid and the weather is oppressive and cloudy all year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature generally varies between 24°C and 37°C and rarely falls below 22°C or exceeds 40°C.
The best time of year to visit Mompós is from mid-December to the end of February.
Health and equipment needed to go to Mompox
As Mompóx is located in the middle of a river, you may be confronted with mosquitoes. It is therefore advisable to pack mosquito repellent and light coloured clothing (to avoid attracting insects).
What are the main events at Mompox?
- Mid-February: Mompóx Carnival, with beauty contest and street parade with several traditional dances.
- Holy Week: The celebration of Holy Week is quite special in Mompox. Inherited from the Sevillian religious celebrations, they are the only processions in the country with musical marches. The Good Friday procession begins at midnight and ends at 8am. Before the procession, the streets are covered with carpets of flowers with religious figures, all the inhabitants take off their jewellery and the women put on mantillas.
- 6 August: Fatherland festival with float parade, fanfar and traditional games.
- From 28 June to 2 July: annual national cumbia festival in the town of El Banco, Magdalena.
- October: celebration of the Virgin of Rosario, where two processions take place, the legacy of a quarrel between the conservative and liberal parties, which decided to organize their own processions.
How to get to Mompox?
BY BUS : the Mompóx terminal connects the city with Cartagena (6am), Barranquilla (7am) and Bogotá (10pm).
Expert tip: If you are traveling by car to Santa Marta, a stop in the village of Aracataca is a must. This is the birthplace of the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A museum in his honor can be visited there.