One way to do Cartagena

Cartagena has to be one of the easiest  ports of call on the cruise line  circuit  to navigate.

It is compact and the ship’s berth is almost at the heart of the tourist trail…

 

My wife and I recently visited the port whilst on board P&O’s cruise ship Britannia…

…and this was the view we had from the ship’s berth…

The visit was in March and there was intermittent rain forecast. However, with a little bit of planning this can easily be managed by visiting a number of attractions that afford good weather coverage.

One point to note is that many of Cartagena’s historical attractions only open at weekends...

and those that do generally do not open till 10am

With the above restrictions in mind, and having left the ship early, our itinerary required a walk to the farthest of my nominated sites, (B on my Route Map), The Punic Wall Museum

The Punic wall of Cartagena is an archeological site dating back to the 3rd century BC in which can be seen the first defensive wall of Cartagena built, funnily enough, by the Carthaginians.

It is an important site because it is one of the few displays of  the Carthaginian civilization remaining in Spain. The walls bear witness to one of the most important events of Mediterranean history: the second Punic War.

The Museum is well laid out,  giving the visitor considerable access to the site…

Amongst the remains of the wall can also be found the 13th Century Crypt of St. Joseph…

Down a set of original steps the crypt was under the old Ermita (Chapel) de San Jose which stood on top of the site between the 16th and 19th centuries. Some of its former inhabitants remain in residence along with a macabre representation of ‘the dance of death‘ that was painted on the crypts  wall.

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Adjacent to the Punic Wall Museum stands the Polytechnic University building…

…and the ornate reconstruction of one of the Punic Walls’  entrances…

Retracing our footsteps in the general direction of the Campus area that we had previously walked through, this notable landmark can be found between the  Architectural and Engineering faculty buildings (A on the Route Map)

Also in the faculty area are the remains and  facade of Cartagena’s old bull ring (C on the Route Map) : La Plaza de Toros...

which is currently rather dilapidated and in need of some support.

A short walk from the ‘Bull Ring” is the ‘El Ascensor Panoramico’ (D on the Route Map)…

 

It is the most practical way to reach the highest point in Cartagena – which gives great views around the city and across the port.

It also affords access to ‘El Castillo de la Concepcion’, (E on the Route Map) a castle that was to serve as the defensive location of Cartagena for centuries. The castle itself is surrounded by the Parque Torres which wends its way around the base of the Castle, and includes the even older Moorish Tower..

The Castle Keep

…has been fully restored and has become a ‘centre of interpretation’ of the history of Cartagena and a very good exhibition of the works of Leonardo Da Vinci

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The real attraction  of the keep is, however, the view from the top …

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An almost aerial view of the old bull ring, La Plaza de Toros de Cartagena...

…and not forgetting, of course,  the Keep’s resident peacocks…

At the lower end of the Parque Torres is this monument…

It is dedicated to Alfonso Torres Lopez: after whom the Park area was named. An engineer by trade, he was the Mayor of Cartagena between 1923 and 1930. He was both an efficient and popular Mayor, hence this monument and park being dedicated to him. . He was executed in 1936, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, when he had fought on the Republican side.

 

The visit to the  El Castillo de la Concepcion now complete,  the return half of the  ‘El Ascensor Panoramico’ tickets proved useful, but unfortunately  the next two places on my route map were not open on weekdays…

The Casa de la Fortuna

…and the Augusteum

 

However, well worth a look and only a  short detour is the Museum of Modern Art , housed in the Palacio Aguirre, ( ‘F’ on the Route Map) – one of the most architecturally important buildings of Cartagena’s Modernist Movement, found on the corner of Plaza de la Merced

 

A short walk from Palacio Aguirre is another large square,  the Plaza San Francisco. It is necessary to cross in order to stick to our route.  At one end of the square is the statue of the Spanish actor Isidoro Maiquez …

…and to get to the Forum one needs to take the street to the right of the statue.

The District of the Roman Forum, Molinete, is a major excavation site that has been transformed into a covered, open air, archeological park…

…that allows the visitor to wander along multi levels, each with excellent high quality descriptive boards…

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Most areas offer some very revealing detail. This herringbone paving…

The thermal spa…

…just two examples.

The visit to the Forum complete there was again another short walk to the final venue on the list of ‘must dos’.

However, on the way there I came across some little known gems that popped up in Cartagena’s narrow streets, like this architectural beauty, The Gran Hotel

One of Cartagena’s ‘Modernist’ buildings, the Gran Hotel was completed in 1917. Of the original work only the facade is preserved, since the interior was gutted to make way for an office complex.

Another was the Church of Santo Domingo

Again tightly fitted into the narrow streets, it poses a real challenge for the amateur photographer. Interior wise, not such a problem…

And so to the final of my planned sites to visit, the Roman Theatre Museum…

That’s it, the pink building on the right. The building opposite is the Palace Hall (Town Hall to us Brits)…

Entrance to the Roman Theatre Museum was included in the tickets purchased when entering The Punic Walls. Latching onto the tails of a tour group  a considerable amount of information came our way as we progressed through the museum…

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…before finally emerging into the Roman Theatre itself…

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It was pretty spectacular and quite rightly a very popular destination in Cartagena.

During the  introduction I mentioned the reason  I had chosen to route the way I did. It can equally be achieved in the opposite direction and the Roman Theatre Museum can be either the start or finish point. Either way the Roman Theatre Museum is a very short walk from where the cruise ships berth and it can be a matter of personal preference whichever direction the visitor takes.

Whichever route one chooses there are a series of interesting statues on that short route to or from the cruise ship berth. They are dedicated to the  military conscripts who were sent to serve in Spain’s foreign empire.

 

 

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They do make interesting props for photographers and  proved irresistible to yours truly…

 

…and my  dedicated companion…

 

 

Adjacent to the conscript statues is a war memorial dedicated to those Spaniards killed in the Spanish-American war of 1898. Known as the Monument to the Heroes of Cavite and Santiago de Cuba, now commonly abbreviated as Heroes of Cavite…

 

 

If you have enjoyed this  guide on what to see and do in Cartagena and would like to be amongst the first to hear of new reviews including other port reviews ( which will soon include Lerwick and The Shetlands  as well as a number of Australian ports of call)  and forthcoming cruise reviews of  Viking Hermod and the new Viking Ocean cruise ship Viking Star, why not join the many other followers by clicking on the ‘Follow’ link on the front page.

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5 responses to “One way to do Cartagena

  1. Luv it , ‘having left the ship early’ which probably means you had 1 1/2 – 2 hours to enjoy prior to areas opening up. You need to team up with our friend ‘Alan F’ and do joint travelogues. Would be great
    Very informative and am sure your companion needed a good bubbly on her return to the ship. 🙂

  2. Fascinating! What super photos and descriptions of a wonderful city Thank you I feel I must visit there soon.

  3. This is incredibly helpful for me, as we visit Cartagena on our forthcoming honeymoon and wanted exactly this: a comprehensive walking tour! I don’t suppose you plan one of these for Cadiz too…?

  4. You’re my hero, exactly what I was looking for in planning a day trip from cruise port. Great post and I truly appreciate your efforts.

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