Cartagena Tourist Attractions
Roman Amphitheater, CartagenaCartagena, one of Spain's most important commercial and naval ports, lies in a deeply indented bay on the Mediterranean which is guarded by two forts, Las Galerias and San Julián, situated on steep rocky promontories.
Minerals were already being mined in the hinterland in Carthaginian times, and iron, tin and lead smelting still makes a major contribution to the town's economy. It also has large shipyards, mainly building naval vessels. At Escombreras, south of Cartagena, are a gigantic oil refinery and, associated with it, a thermal power station.HistoryAn Iberian settlement on this site named Mastia was captured in 223 B.C. by the Carthaginian leader Hasdrubal, who became the real founder of the town. As Nova Carthago it was for many years the most important Roman establishment on the Iberian peninsula. During the period of Moorish rule it formed the independent emirate of Cartajana, which in 1242 was conquered by Ferdinand III of Castile. The Arabs established Cartagena's fame as a dockyard for the building of warships and greatly improved its agriculture. In 1588 the surviving vessels of the Spanish Armada sought refuge in Cartagena, but were pursued by an English fleet under the command of Sir Francis Drake, who sacked the town. In 1936, at the outset of the Civil War, the Spanish navy, which had declared in favor of the Popular Front government, was unable to prevent Franco's troops from Africa from landing in Cartagena, and the town suffered severe destruction.
Monumento de los Heroes de Cavite
At the west end of the promenade flanking the harbor is the Monumento de los Heroes de Cavite, which commemorates the dead of the Spanish-American War of 1898.
Castillo de la Concepción
From the Cathedral a flight of steps leads up to the 11th century Castillo de la Concepción, 70m/230ft above sea level, which is now a public park, the Parque Torres. From here there is a fine view of the harbor and, prominent to the south, the Escombreras refinery.
At the quay just south of the one with the Monumento de los Heroes de Cavite is one of the oldest submarines in the world, the "Peral", built in 1888 by Isaac Peral of Cartagena.
North of the Monumento de los Heroes de Cavite is the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, with the Town Hall (1907).
Cathedral of Santa María la Vieja
To the east of the Town Hall can be seen the ruins of the Cathedral of Santa María la Vieja, which was destroyed during the Civil War.
The Museo Naval is in Calle Real, near the Plaza de España.
Museum of Underwater Archaeology
On the far side of the harbor basin, adjoining the Faro (lighthouse) de Navidad, is the Museo Nacional de Arqueológia Submarina, which displays antiquities recovered from the sea.
Address: Carretera Faro de Navidad, E-30290 Cartagena, Spain
The most important museum in Cartegena is the Museo Arqueológico Municipal in Calle Ramón y Cajal, in the northeast of the city. Housed in an old 19th century market hall, it has a collection of Carthaginian, Roman, Visigothic and Arab antiquities, including a Roman copy of a Greek statue of Hermes.
Address: Ramón y Cajal, 45, E-30204 Cartagena, Spain
La Manga Mar Menor
La Union, Spain
La Unión, 12km/7.5mi east of Cartagena, is the center of the largest ore-mining area in Europe. The town developed as a result of the increasingly intensive mining activity of the last 100 years or so, and its prosperity during this period is reflected in a number of handsome Art Nouveau buildings.
The 250km/150mi long Costa Cálida which extends southwest and northeast of Cartagena is frequented in summer by countless thousands of holidaymakers, who come here to enjoy the spacious beaches, most of them relatively quiet, which are interrupted here and there by rocky sections of coast. Along the coast are holiday villages, hotels, bathing beaches and a variety of other tourist facilities - all of which are largely deserted in winter.
The main center of tourist activities is the Mar Menor northeast of Cartagena. This is a large lagoon (area 180 sq.km/70 sq.mi), with water of high salt and iodine content, which is cut off from the sea by a narrow spit of land, La Manga, 22km/14mi long and between 50m/55yd and 150m/165yd wide, which is traversed by several channels. The water of the lagoon, which has an average depth of 7m/23ft, is so warm that bathing is possible almost all year round. La Manga and the strip of coast on the mainland side of the lagoon are lined with facilities for bathers, hotels and tourist centers. The most important of these on the mainland are San Pedro de Pinatar, San Javier (which is also a military air base), Los Alcázares, Los Urrutias and Los Belones. The last of these has one of the longest and most beautiful 18-hole golf courses in Spain, the Campo de Golf La Manga. The most important tourist resort on La Manga itself is La Manga del Mar, with houses built on piles over the water and high apartment blocks. At the south end of La Manga Cabo de Palos falls steeply down to the sea.
Golfo de Mazarrón
The coast of the Golfo de Mazarrón, to the south of Cartagena, is rather quieter than that of the Mar Menor. Here N 332 runs some distance inland, only occasionally coming down to the coast but linked with the coastal resorts by numerous side roads.
Puerto de Mazarron
After passing through the seaside resort of Puerto de Mazarrón the road comes in 37km/23mi to the little town of Mazarrón (alt. 99m/325ft), an old mining village with a ruined castle which belonged to the Velez family.
The road continues from Puerto de Mazarrón, skirting the Sierra de Almenara, to Aguilas, the most southerly town on the Costa Cálida, with the Castillo de San Juan de las Aguilas looming over it. On the seaward side the town is defended by a stretch of medieval walls with a 12m/40ft high tower built in 1414.