Los Zapatos Viejos, Cartagena’s Old Shoes Monument

Las Botas Viejas, Cartagena.

photography by: Omri Westmark

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In most cultures, shoes are regarded as unclean objects that bear the filth of the outside world, and as such, are often kept out of the confines of homes. In stark contrast to this global repulsion, the Colombian city of Cartagena is home to a quirky monument dedicated entirely to that very piece of footwear we all deem as mundane.

More often than not, the words of poems are confined within the realm of thoughts. Sometimes, however, figments of one’s imagination manage to emerge into to the real world, much to the bewilderment of onlookers. When Cartagena-born poet Luis Carlos López wrote his famous sonnet “A mi Ciudad Nativa” (To my Native City), he depicted his hometown as a pair of old boots, since both grown beautiful with time.


In 1957, seven years after Lopez passed away, Colombian sculptor Tito Lombana erected a statue that paid homage to the famous poem. Comprised of two sculpted boots, the monument was situated in Media Luna Street. Unfortunately, its prime days were short lived as in 1992, the sculpture was demolished when the nearby Heredia Bridge was constructed.


However, much like a phoenix that rises from the ashes of its former self, merely two years later, in 1994, Tito’s brother, Hector, recreated the monument. Nestled in front of San Felipe de Barajas Fort, Las Botas Viejas (the Old Boots), aka Los Zapatos Viejos (the Old Shoes), are a pair of bronze shoes so large that they can fit a full-grown adult inside them.


Perching atop a circular base, the oversized boots appear as though they were recently cast aside by their giant owner, as one of which is in upright position while the other lies prone on the floor. Featuring a bluish patina, the sculpture is a popular spot among local Instagrammers, many of whom wait in line to be photographed inside the burnished boot.