Cartagena

Overview

Introduction

Cartagena is a historic coastal city on the southern coast of Spain. Founded by Hasdrubal 2,000 years ago in memory of his home city of Carthage in North Africa, it became an even more important city under the Romans, who named it Cartago Nova and made it capital of their province of Carthaginesis. The restored Roman Theater is one of the key sights, along with the 18th-century Arsenal building, which imposingly proclaims its later importance as a naval base. (Incidentally, in a small square in the city center you can also see a model of the world's first submarine, created by Cartagena resident Isaac Peral).

The old heart of Cartagena is pedestrian friendly, though hilly, so take your walking shoes. The TuristBus, which is a double-decker sightseeing bus, departs from near the port entrance. The city is still trying to shake off a dowdy image it's acquired in recent years, and though it certainly looks sprucer and feels a little more trendily atmospheric these days, tourists tend to stay in nearby resort towns such as La Manga, Mazarron and Aguilas and travel to Cartagena for the day to visit the Naval and Maritime Archeology museums, and see the baroque and modernist architecture of many buildings in the old quarter.

Two outstanding fiestas, both declared of National Touristic Interest, are the Holy Week processions and the Romans and Carthaginians parade, a fascinating variant on the ubiquitous Moors and Christians fiestas of neighboring Alicante province.

An nearby offbeat attraction is the Mining Park at La Union (whose paths meander through a starkly arid and austere landscape dotted with derelict mine shafts) that commemorates the town's once thriving mining industry.

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