The port of call of Cartagena, on the Mediterranean’s Costa Cálida, has been an active port and trade center since Carthaginian times. Thanks to its strategic position it has been an important city to a number of cultures including Carthaginians, Romans, Moors and the Spanish, all having left their mark on this interesting city.
Where Your Ship Docks – Cruise ships dock at a pier connected to the marina and a short walk to downtown. Getting into and seeing a lot of the town is an easy walk from the ship.
Transportation – Other than walking and taking tours the best way to get around is by taxi. There are a number of taxi services and prices are about average and there currently aren’t any ride shares available. There is also a trolly tour of Cartagena that lasts about an hour and a half for about $50.
Money – Spain uses the Euro, credit cards are welcome and there are ATMs readily available.
The City and Attractions – Near the pier on the waterfront is th ARQUA which is the home of the National Centre for Underwater Archaeological Research. Its displays cover naval construction, trade and navigation since ancient times.
Leaving the marina stroll off to the left along the Muralla del Mar Wall on Calle Real to the Calle Mayor. It’s a pedestrian mall and the main thoroughfare through the commercial center lined with all types of shops. Enjoy the cities architecture that ranges from Modernist to classical and traditional. Calle Mayor, leads off to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento square with the houses of Cervantes and Llagostera, designed by the architect Victor Beltrí. The style is known for the glassed-in balconies, iron work and bronze reliefs. Other notable buildings include the Casino, the Gran Hotel, the railway station, and the houses of Maestre and Dorda.
Muralla del Mar is the massive city wall of Cartagena that was built on the orders of Carlos III. It’s difficult not to be impressed by this huge wall that runs parallel to the port and marina area. This section runs near the old city centre, and it is most of what is left of a massive structure that looped around the whole of the old city making the port virtually impregnable in the 18th century.
The Old Cathedral is located on the Camino del Parque Torres, behind the Muralla del Mar wall. This is the oldest church in Cartagena (13th century), and stands upon the remains of a Roman theatre discovered in 1987 that dates back to the first century A.D., and is one of the most important Roman theaters in Spain. The items excavated from the site are displayed in the Museum of the Roman Theatre.
More examples from the Roman era are the archaeological sites of El Molinete, the Morería Baja Colonnade and the ancient Byzantine Wall, which is actually an early Roman structure. Two additional archaeological sites are the Augusteum and the Decumanus. The Augusteum contains the remains of the old forum, a public building featuring beautiful marble floors. The Decumanus site, adjoining the Roman Forum quarter, contains rooms in the city’s Roman baths. The Casa Fortuna, built in the first century B.C. belonged to a wealthy family, and shows what daily life was like at the time of the early Roman Empire.
The Concepción Castle stands on a hill above the city and served as a fortress for Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs and Spanish, and now houses the History and Mediaeval Cartagena Visitor Center. Nearby is the Refuge – a Spanish Civil War museum, with galleries which were once shelters from aerial attack.
Romans, Moors and Spanish have all added to the heritage of this remarkable seaside city. Culture, archeology and architecture all add to the character of this Spanish city with much to see and explore.