Cartagena Tourist Attractions
Cartagena, 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.
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.
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.
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.