Walls and Fortifications
The fear of attacks by pirates and runaways from slavery motivated the construction of Cartagena’s city walls. The need for both communication and protection created tensions around their design and construction, which began in the 1580s and continued in various stages until the 1790s. In 1622, Cartagena’s city council ran out of funds for the construction. In a request for funding to the king in Spain, the councilmen explained that the walls were necessary for the protection of the city’s residents, as well as for merchants and slave traders who risked theft of their cargoes by foreign ships. They requested permission to collect a tax from the sale of enslaved persons and use it alongside enslaved labor in the construction of the city walls.