10 Nov Cartagena, Spain
Saturday 22nd October 2016 – MV Aegean Odyssey docked in Cartagena Harbour on Spain’s east coast around 1 pm, following a 43 hour (approx.) cruise across the Mediterranean from Trapani, Sicily.
The original town founded here, named Mastia, possessed one of the best harbours in the western Mediterranean. This made the location important in both the Carthaginian and the Roman conquests of the Iberian Peninsula and is what contributes to its importance in the 21st Century.
In 228 BC the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal named this place Qart Hadasht, which apparently means “New City”, the same as his hometown (Carthage). Then in 209 BC the Roman general Scipio Africanus conquered and renamed it Carthago Nova, meaning “New, New City” to distinguish it from the original.
In 298 AD, Diocletian got into the act by making this the capital of a new Roman province in “Hispania” (Spain) called Carthaginensis. It remained important until it was sacked by the Vandals in 409 AD. However, the Visigoths, the Eastern Romans and Muslims still decided to conquer and own the “New City” after the Vandals. Then in 1245 Alfonso X of Castile conquered and established the Bishopric of Cartagena (pronounced Carta-he-na). In subsequent years Cartagena entered a period of decay because, as part of Spain, its harbour fell into disuse when Atlantic sea ports were favoured. It didn’t fully recover until the 18th century, when it became one of Spain’s leading naval ports in the Mediterranean.
Our excursion on this afternoon commenced with a bus tour around Cartagena.
Following our bus tour we undertook a guided walk through the old section of Cartagena commencing at Plaza Ayuntamiento. This is close to the harbour and a short walk from where our cruise ship was docked.
The “City Hall” was completed in 1907, as a result of the growing resurgence of Cartagena during the late 19th century and into the early 20th Century.
The dogs lying in front of the columns were, we believe, part of a Race Against Cancer event due to take place late that afternoon.
Across the plaza is another interesting building.
The Roman Theatre and a ruined Cathedral which partially covers the theatre are a couple of blocks behind the museum.
And what’s a tourist attraction without a cafe referencing the site.
To the left of the Cathedral (and opposite the cafe) is the Roman Theatre.
As is often the case, the theatre is only partly uncovered due to cost and unwillingness to remove more recent structures built over the Roman ruins.
Moving north from the Roman Theatre along Calle Aire….
And at the end of Calle Aire and in a corner of Plaza San Sebastian….
Only the facade of the Gran Hotel remains. Internally it has been completely rebuilt as offices.
From here we meandered on our own for a while, finding these scenes.
What’s the attraction here???? A WiFi Hot Spot? Some of these faces look familiar.
At around 4pm we regrouped for an official treat at Bar Restaurante Columbus.
Arriving a little early for our booking inside the restaurante, we tried to observe what others were being served.
Our Treat: Cartagena’s famous Asiatico Coffee with Spanish brandy, condensed milk and a secret ingredient, Licor 43. Mmm, very nice.
Then it was back to the ship through the Plaza de Heroes de Cavite
And back at the Marina….
I found the old section of Cartagena very attractive and was pleased to have visited. However it is difficult to comment on the more modern sections as we spent very little time there.
The next destination in our “Voyage to Antiquity” is Granada and Alhambra Palace. Hope you will join us for a look at this very special place.