Cartagena, a city known for its people, the Carthaginians, who used it as the main gateway to the Iberian Peninsula, founded in 227 BC by the Carthaginian General Asdrubal, later conquered by the Romans, is a city of southern Spain that must visit when you take a tour of southern Spain and the Costa Calida.
Cartagena is full of history, which is located near the Mediterranean sea but does not have a large beach or a promenade full of bars and beachfront as many cities along the Mediterranean. On the contrary, Cartagena has a small bay and a large harbour, which was and still is of at most importance due to its location. In the past, it was used as a military port as the hills around the harbour and bay protected it and several artillery posts were built on these hills.
In more modern times Cartagena was marked by its mining activities, with lead and silver mines. More recently its major activity is in the Valle de Escombreras, with important petrochemical facilities and refineries. This area is located between Cartagena and the Mar Menor.
What you don’t want to miss
Our visit began by the sea wall near the harbor. This wall divides the city from the port and has some gardens.
Arriving at the most central area of the city, we visited what is Cartagena’s main monument. The Roman Theater was once covered by an old residential area.
The Roman theatre is in the centre of the city and was discovered after several houses have torn down in 1988.
As we walk through it, we can hardly think about the city before the excavation to bring the whole of the Roman Theater into sight.
Close to the Roman Theater is Torres Park with its Concepción Castle inside and accessible by a Panoramic Elevator. This park gives you a panoramic view of the city and the harbour.
The Barrio del Foro Romano is another point of great historical interest that can be visited. It is one of the largest urban archaeological parks in Spain and was once an ancient Roman city where the Roman sidewalk and Roman Baths stand out.
Cartagena’s central area is full of shops and restaurants allowing for the rest of the day shopping and admiring the imposing architecture of some of these existing buildings.
If you are a big fan of museums, Cartagena will not let you down as it has so many of which we highlight the following:
- ARQUA Museum, Museum of Underwater Archeology
- Civil War Refugee Museum
- Fuerte de Navidad
- Cartagena Naval Museum
- MURAM, Regional Museum of Roman Art
However, to be able to visit all the museums and monuments listed above, you certainly need to stay more than one day.
Beach and Walking trails
The nearest beach is the small La Cortina beach, located in a bay near the entrance to the port of Cartagena.
This whole area of the coast has many trails for those who like to walk. The trails run through the hills and lead you to the ancient war installations that protected Cartagena’s strategic harbor. Moreover, they always provide a spectacular view of the Mediterranean Sea and the whole city of Cartagena.
Also know more about the beaches in La Manga del Mar Menor in this post.
Compare prices to visit Cartagena. Múrcia its the nearest airport.
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Cartagena is not a very big city and it was easy to get there and park the car for free. We parked next to the Polytechnic University of Cartagena which is next to Av. Trovero Marín which allowed us to walk along the waterfront to the oldest part at near walking distance. The whole city can be seen on foot, as the points of interest are not far away.
The level of safety did not seem to us to be a problem either since at no time do we feel insecure on every street.
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