My dad was a career sailor and spent his life sailing the seas with the Merchant Marines. I remember hearing about Cartagena by the Sea from listening to all of my dad’s sea stories and tales. Now, I finally got a chance to see it for myself. It is rich with a very impressive history. I have always loved history. Anyone who says they don’t like history has never really experienced it.
Before leaving for Cartagena, we picked up our rental car. We are driving around in style in a Mini Cooper, that we affectionately named “Petey”, named after Larry’s favorite hockey player, Peter Forsberg. We are definitely putting poor Petey through the ringer, but he is handling everything like a charm.
And so the adventures begin. Cartagena is about 300-350 miles or about 500 K from Madrid. Most of the drive was through wide open spaces that was predominately agriculture.
Once we started our journey, we did not make many stops, because we were anxious to see the ruins of Cartagena. When we first pulled in, I really had some second thoughts, since we pulled into a very shady, dodgy spot, also I might add, where we were staying. Those first impressions, however, were quickly removed once we toured around the city and saw her for what she really is and for all her true beauty.
Cartagena is a very old city and is very rich with history. The city was founded in the 3rd century bc on the site of an ancient Iberian settlement by the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal. Its name, like that of its mother city, Carthage, was derived from the Phoenician Kart-hadasht (“New Town”). The Carthaginians believed the city to be largely secure, because it was surrounded on three sides by water, but the northern side was subject to tidal fluctuations and proved indefensible. After the Phoenicians, came the Romans, and then the Moors. It was finally added to Spain by Phillip the II, in the early 17th century, and has been Spain’s most important coastal and Naval city every since. Because Cartagena is a major seaport, and has been for centuries, it was also a very affluent city because of all the trade markets that took place within the city. Today, the bigger cities of Madrid and Barcelona have taken over as major affluent and influential cities, although Cartagena is still the 6th largest city in Spain. Today, the main industry of Cartagena is tourism, and it is a major stop for all the Mediterranean cruise lines.
We stayed at another nh hotel. It was very nice and clean and was decorated with many nautical designs and themes, displaying Cartagena’s deep history with the sea.
Once we got checked in, it was time to go explore. We saw a lot of the ruins from the Ancient Roman times, as well as the Castle de Coronacion for Queen Isabela. Isabel was a devout Catholic, and there are a lot of religious artifacts in the castle as well as many of the Queen’s beautiful dresses and jewels. Queen Isabel was Christopher Columbus’ strongest supporter, so that castle also has some of the nautical artifacts used by Christopher Columbus when he made his great voyages to the New World. Cartagena is the birth place of those famous voyages that forever changed the world.
The road built by the Ancient Romans.
The old bull fighting teatro.
A family of peacocks. Today, the peacocks are the only full time residents of the castle.
Cartagena was also the birthplace for the Red Cross of Spain.
The commanding view of the sea from the top of the castle.
These are some of the highlights of Cartagena that we saw. Of course, we had to eat, and as you might expect, the food was incredible, but I will save that for later. Ciao for now.