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About this photograph

Margery H. Freeman
Date created
Cartagena, Colombia
This photograph copyright ©2006. Terms of use

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Barred windows on the House of Inquisition

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The House of Inquisition museum has barred windows on the fist floor and a series of balconies above. The stone walls are painted white.

The Inquisition was an institution within Roman Catholicism charged with preserving the purity of Church doctrine. It was started in the 13th century, and reached its heights in the 16th century. In the early 16th century the kings of Portugal and Spain kicked out all people of Jewish faith from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and their colonial holdings in the New World and Asia. The Inquisition was used to root out Jews who hastily converted to Christianity in an attempt to avoid detection and oppression. These converted Jews, or conversos, suffered torture and even execution throughout Latin America. The House of Inquisition shown in this photo was the site of over five hundred religious executions and was only closed late in the 18th century. It is now a museum and memorial to the victims of the Inquisition.

Cartagena is a large seaport town on Colombia’s northern coast. It was settled in 1533 by Spanish conquistadors and was an important seaport during the colonial period. More recently Cartagena has become increasingly industrialized, though its tropical climate and extremely high humidity ensures that the city will retain its lush vegetation.