Cartagena was never in my plans.
However, I spent a week in La Manga del Mar Menor and, being so close, I couldn’t skip it.
Well, it was a good surprise – Cartagena is a very interesting small town, easy to visit and to see the remarkable efforts that are being done to recover its rich history.
Roman Theatre of Cartagena
The rich history of Cartagena is well exemplified by the Roman theater. Discovered in 1987, and rebuilt until 2003, this theater was started in the 5th or 3rd century BC, and used until the 3rd century AD, when a market replaced it.
In 435 the whole city was destroyed by the Vandals. Later on, after Byzantine, Visigoth and Muslim occupations, in the 13th century, a cathedral occupied the place, using stones from the theater, that burnt totally in the 16th century.
In 2008 a museum was opened, in a complex solution to take people from the entrance at sea level to the high location of the theater. The ingenious museum passes underneath a palace and a church until revealing the theater at the end.
Hard works were trying to enrich the already recovered Roman theater discovered in 1987.
Dating from the first century A.D., and together with the theater in Mérida, is one of the most important in Spain, but they want more.
Good idea, but is it possible to understand the whole complex?
The castle is located in the hill of Conception, overlooking the city, and is used as as tourist center.
It is a nice space, with pleasant gardens, but with not much to see except… the views.
Carlos III walls
Facing the harbor, a strong wall encloses a pleasant garden, with good views.
Built by king Carlos III in the 18th century, they mark the limits of the historic city.
The castle’s hill is well gardened, and prepared to help the visitor to understand the history of Cartagena, in its History Interpretation Center, located in the castle.
To visit it you may either walk uphill from town, or to use the panoramic lift situated in calle Gisbert.
Santo Domingo church
The oldest church in Cartagena, built as a complement of San Isidoro convent in the 16th century, gives name to one of the most vivid squares in town, day and night.
There is a legend about the church and the devil, but… I leave it to your tourist guide.
The founder of the city was Asdrubal the general from Carthage (thus giving his name to the city).
He is remembered in a small monument in the castle.
I hate to be ignorant.
Look at me, in Cartagena, facing a monument to Cavite heroes…
Cavite heroes… what is that?
Cavite was a very important port in Manila bay, that in 1647 was attacked by the Dutch fleet. The Spanish sunk the Dutch, and kept control of Philippines.
It’s nice, this simple monument to Cavite heroes. “Cavite heroes”, don’t you know? Let me explain…
Cartagena’s city hall is a modern palace, built with a triangular plant about hundred years ago.
The unstable soil, and errors in the construction quickly ruined the building that was closed to recovery, only finished in 2006.
Located in a central area, by the sea, its marble facade is really pretty, and, it seems the interior staircase also deserves the visit that… I skipped.
With a collection of maritime pieces, maps and works of art, this museum has a free entrance.
It has also a large collection of ship models.
Directions: Calle Menandez Pelayo 8
Cartagena was on of the most important naval bases in Spain, and its military relevance is easy to understand today.
Built in the 18th century, the Arsenal occupies a large area, with a remarkable door.
In my visit to Cartagena I had no idea about what meant a submarine in display facing the harbor.
Afterwards I read that it was a prototype conceived by Isaac Peral in 1885, propelled by electric energy.
It failed some tests and didn’t reach the needed autonomy, the project being abandoned.
The sub was forgotten until 1965, when the naval commander decided to expose it in front of the submarine base.
In a hill facing the city there’s a castle named Castillo de los Moros, but I don’t know from where did it get the name.
It was built by the end of the eighteenth century, when the moors were gone long time ago.
La Manga del Mar Menor
Cartagena was never in my plans. However, I spent a week in La Manga del Mar Menor and, being so close, I couldn’t skip it.
Well, it was a good surprise, and now I don’t know how to mention it:
Is it Cartagena a nice visit to those who stay in La Manga de Mar Menor beaches, or is La Manga a great beach for those who visit Cartagena?
More than historic remains, in Cartagena is noticeable the effort to keep on finding them.
In several parts of the city digging is continued, and here and there, the new elements found but not yet well prepared to be seen are already announced.
I think that there’s a great future to tourism in Cartagena.
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