Cartagena is situated on the Costa Calida within the Region of Murcia and is the second most important city. Situated just 20 minutes from Hacienda del Alamo this ancient city is steeped in over 2,500 years of history and has always been a major port due its unique position on the Mediterranean coast. There is a large recreational marina as well as a naval port and an industrial port.
Its cultural wealth and rich history is also thanks to the fact that it has been inhabited by several cultures. The Carthaginians and Romans took an interest in this city and Cartagena was also under Arab domination until Fernando III reconquered it. Its port was hugely important in the War of Spanish Succession and the in the War of Independence. Traces of Roman history are evident in the city and it boasts the ruins of a Roman theatre, archaeological museums along with many interesting examples of military and modernist architecture.
Places of interest within Cartagena include the Church of Santa Maria La Vieja, the Torre Ciega (Roman Tower), Torres Park and the medieval Castillo de la Concepcion. In Torres Park is the Castillo of la Concepción which dates back to the 14th century and which stands on a hilltop. The best views can be obtained from the Parque de Torres and the Castillo de la Concepción. Close to the main entrance to the Torres Park is the Auditorium, the venue for many musical and cultural events. Every summer there is the Mar de Musicas, when musicians from all over the world travel to Cartagena to perform.
Other historical places of interest include the “Museo Arqueológico Municipal” the Archaeological Museum which takes you from prehistoric times right through to the 19th century. Also interesting to visit is the “Museo Nacional de Arqueología Marítima” the National Museum of Maritime Archaeology. The items on display focus on the history of sea trade and traffic, as well as maritime history, with special emphasis on the Phoenician and Roman eras. A key attraction is the seven scale models of ancient vessels. A large section of the city centre is pedestrianised to allow for a more relaxed atmosphere for shopping and there are many department stores, boutiques, cafes, bars and hypermarkets.
When it comes to eating out in Cartagena there are an abundance of Spanish restaurants and bars where you can truly experience a taste of traditional Spanish cuisine along with a more relaxed pace of life. In Cartagena, without a doubt, salted fish, fish, stews and paellas are the order of the day. A restaurant well worth a visit is Azafran, which is one of the best in Cartagena for modern Spanish cuisine, it is situated on Calle de la Palma 3. Also, a really good bar for traditional tapas, lovely meals and football is El Barril, situated on Calle del Aire 20. And there’s a good Moroccan restaurant, Al Jaima, on Calle Jara.
If you want to experience Cartagena nightlife there are many bars at the port near La Muralla University Campus such as Siroco, Galipote, La Biblioteca, El Coyote, which are open both as “cafeterías”
during daytime hours and as disco-pubs until early in the morning. The coast of Cartagena is very varied with contrasts such as high cliffs and hidden coves and expansive bays. If you are a water sports enthusiast you can take advantage of a wide range of activities from sailing to windsurfing and diving. Situated to the north of Cartagena are the idyllic coastal towns of Mazarrón, Cala Cortina and Cabo de Palos which are all well worth a visit.
An interesting time to visit Cartagena is during the Carthaginians and Romans Festival which takes place during the second half of September and crowds get together to re-enact events which took place between 223 BC, when the city was founded by General Asdrubal, and 209 BC, when the city fell to the Romans. Many residents dress as Romans and Carthaginians and party well into the early hours.
Useful information & numbers:
Cartagena Tourist Office:
Plaza Almirante Bastarreche. Call: 0034 968 506 483
Calle Sor Francisca Armendariz, 6. Tel. 0034 968 128 800
The Archaeological Museum:
Calle Ramón y Cajal, 45. Telephone 0034 968 539 027
Source: Hacienda del Alamo Magazine