Spain Explained

Cartagena

There are many interesting and historic cities to visit in Spain. One of the oldest and most beautiful ones is the city of Cartagena. It’s combination of dramatic history and culture mean that it has something for everyone.

The city was founded by the Carthaginians, who named it Quart Hadast in the year 227 a.d. It is a perfectly proportioned and geographically excellent port that played host to General Hannibal when he entered into Europe with his troops intending to conquer Rome.

Rathering than conquering Rome, in 209 a.d. Cartagena fell under Roman rule and was renamed Cartagho Nova. There are many symbols of this era remaining. For example, you can visit the Roman theatre and Amphitheatre and see artefacts in the various archaeological museums.

After the Roman period the Visigoths, Byzantines and Muslims all occupied the city in turn until it finally came under Christian rule in 1245 in the reign of King Alfonso X, The Wise. In the eighteenth century Cartagena regained its strategic importance when it became the naval and military capital of Europe with its arsenal, castle and fortifications. Again you can still see the remains of this era today.

During the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39 the city became a strong hold of the Republican government and, together with Alicante, it was one of the last cities to fall into the hands of General Franco.

When to visit

It’s always a good time to visit Cartagena but there are times during the year when it is, perhaps, at its best. During Easter (Semana Santa) and during the last two weeks of September there are fiesta celebrations you can take part in. The September fiesta commemorates the conflict between the Romans and the Carthaginians and you can see over 5,000 participants dressed as troops and legionnaires assembled in the area known as ‘El Campamentor’ where wine and tapas are served.

There are plenty of special dishes to sample in the area influenced by the rich produce from both land and sea. The most popular dishes are ‘Caldero’ which is a tasty fish casserole, ‘micherones’ which are a type of broad bean cooked in a sauce and ‘patatas al ajo Cabañil’ which is potatoes in garlic. You can also try a special drink called ‘asiatico’ which is a coffee made with condensed milk, brandy and a touch of cinnamon served in a special glass.

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