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Flashback Friday: Cartagena Spain

It was one of those fabulous nights: ATB and I had enjoyed a wonderful late-evening meal and a bottle of wine in Málaga when we realized that the only available way to Madrid with seats available was a night bus leaving in the wee hours. We rushed back to our room, threw our stuff into our bags and made it to the bus station with moments to spare. The night bus arrived in the ancient city of Cartegena about 8am with no connecting bus until later that afternoon. We were wandering around before the locals (coffee shops) were awake. We had not planned to be in Cartagena, and had done zero research. Our plan was to locate coffee and meander around to see what we could find in the few hours we were in town.

Cartagena is a port city and naval base in the Murcia region of southeast Spain. The Carthaginians founded the city about 220 B.C. Later, the Romans made it a central hub and built walls, villas, and a theatre. After the Romans, the Moorish Kingdom controlled the city for about 150 years from the 12th Century. The Christians took over.

Cartagena Port

The port area in Cartagena is a pretty area surrounded by hills. It is a working port that also welcomes cruise ships and large private yachts. While we were there, two cruise ships were spending the day in the harbour.

There is a large promenade with plenty of services for those entering the city from the port. There are public art displays and installations. This particular one is a tribute to the victims of terrorism.

El Zulo by Víctor Ochoa

Naval Museum

The Naval Museum is housed in an 18th-century building in the port that, until recently, was a naval college. The Museum highlights weapons and navigational tools and covers the history of the 1800s in Europe including several revolutions, the loss of the Spanish colonies and the history of the Spanish Royal Family.

An interesting exhibit is the Isaac Peral Submarine which was the first battery-powered submarine that was launched way back in 1888. Although it was worked on for two years, the project was abandoned.

Whale’s Tail Sculpture

Outside the Naval Museum, near the Tourist Information office is a sculpture of a whale tail close to the harbour. It honours the whales that are often seen year-round in the local waters.

Cola de Ballena by Fernando Saenz de Elorrieta

Castillo de la Concepcion

The Castillo de la Concepcion was built on top of a Roman temple dedicated to Asklepio. When the Moors occupied the city, they built an alcazaba on the foundations, using a rammed-earth technique. When the Christians took over, a large keep was built using stone from the temple ruins and other Roman sites. The castle lost its military importance by the end of the 18th century and parts of it were demolished at the beginning of the 19th century. In the mid-1920s, the site was declared a city park.

Today, the castle keep is a museum. The city offers a voucher that provides admission to 4, 5, or 6 city sights within a 2-week period at a cost between €10 - €20, depending upon the package you choose. For just the Castillo, it costs €4.