On Plaza de La Merced, the pastel-hued Teatro Adolfo Mejia, known affectionately as Teatro Heredia (after the city’s founder), was built to commemorate the first centenary of the Colombian Republic in 1911. Renowned architect Luis Felipe Jaspe transformed the former 17th-century Merced Church (which had fallen on hard times) into a center of arts and culture based on Havana’s Teatro Tacon, to showcase Cartagena’s cultural élan. One of Cartagena’s architectural highlights, the theater’s interior is lavish and graceful in equal measure. The glorious marble staircase was shipped in from Italy in 1988. There are ornate gold-plated fittings, seat dividers fashioned from cedar wood, and a striking figure of the beautiful India Catalina (Pedro Heredia’s intermediary and translator; Colombia’s answer to Sacajawea). The theater’s crowning jewel is the glorious ceiling fresco, El Triunfo de las Musas (painted by renowned local artist Enrique Grau), which depicts the dance of the nine muses of the arts. As well as hosting the Hay Festival in January, the theater offers a diverse schedule of classical music concerts, films, literary gatherings, and theatre productions.