The homes of Cartegena are dressed in tropical and flowering vines. Door knockers or Aldabas reflected the status of family in residence. They spoke to the families social and economic status without saying a word. The door knocker came about in the middle ages when most people could not read or write. The pictorial images were the ultimate status symbol. Although today they are merely ornamental, they hearken back to the family’s status and wealth. Nautical motifs that feature creatures of the sea such as fish and mermaids were used by families that made their living by the sea. Usually as merchants importing goods into the New World or traders.
Lions were the symbol of the military. It is the epitome of strength, pride and power. The protectors of the city lived behind these doors.
Aldabas shaped like lizards refer back to the country’s royalty. Families with these often were members of royal family or could produce a connetion to the royals. Both the size of the knocker and the material that it was made of, were also important indicators of the family’s status. The actual meaning of the different styles comes into question quite often. Where some say the Lion represents the military, others say it is meant for teachers. And if the lizard is truly a symbol of royalty, there must have been a huge royal family living in Cartegena based on the dozens of lizard aldabas that I saw. Any way you look at them, the aldabas are beautiful bits of decoration on some wonderful homes.