Cartagena - Spain, Spain cruise holidays

An ancient city with a name to match - it was founded more than 2,200 years ago by Carthaginian leader Hasdrubal - Cartagena is now one of Spain's busiest commercial centres. Step ashore here, though, and you are immediately aware of its rich history. In fact, you see it even as you cruise towards the harbour as this is flanked by towering fortresses. Then, in the centre of the old town, you will find the original Carthaginian castle and sections of the old city walls. But Cartagena is also a city which moves with the times hence the new harbourfront development which includes the unique National Museum of Underwater Archaeology. As part of Murcia province, Cartagena cruise port is also an excellent base for visiting the city of Murcia itself and its distinctive Baroque cathedral; the 17th century religious sanctuary of Fuensanta; the Fortress at Lorca Taller del Tiempo; the spa resort of Balneario de Archena; and for touring into the mountainous interior or along the Costa Blanca to Alicante.


With a newly developed harbour, impressive Modernist architecture and fabulous food, Cartagena is cementing its spot on Spain’s tourist trail. But amid its stylish buildings, shopping streets and tapas bars are ancient sites that lay undiscovered for thousands of years, and today provide a glimpse into the city’s history. 


On shore, head to the old town, which was once enclosed by city walls (sections of which are still intact). Start with the Castillo de la Concepción, a hilltop castle built in the Middle Ages and used as everything from a Muslim fortress to the location of warning sirens during the Spanish Civil War. A lift takes you up the hill to the castle, where you can enjoy views of the city and port below.


Among Cartagena’s treasures is its Roman amphitheatre. Buried under a series of buildings, it was hidden for centuries before being rediscovered in 1987. Explore it at the Roman Theatre Museum – designed by architect Rafael Moneo, the museum takes you on a journey of the theatre’s history through well-preserved artefacts. 

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