A fairy-tale walled city of romance and sheer beauty, Cartegena is studded with spectacular architecture, cobbled streets, bastions, and leafy plazas, making it one of the hottest spots on the coast. Its strategic location made it a logical choice to use as a port of embarkation for the treasures of the Spanish Crown. Once it was established by the Spanish in 1533, the city rapidly gained affluence and as it blossomed, it attracted the attention of buccaneers who were interested in the treasures stored there, waiting to be shipped back to Europe. After five major sieges in the 16th century, including an attack by Sir Francis Drake, Cartegena upped its security by building a number of strongholds and fortresses. The increased security lead to successful resistance against invaders and the city went from strength to strength, eventually gaining independence from the Spanish Crown. Although the city has expanded dramatically since its heyday, the old city is virtually unchanged, making it a tantalizing place to explore, rela, and enjoy the array of lively outdoor cafés and vibrant nightlife.