Spotlight on Cartagena

A Treasure Trove of History and Beauty Image: Shutterstock/ BearFotos

Cartagena stands proudly as a major naval stronghold on the Mediterranean shores. With a population of over 200,000, it’s the second-largest municipality in Murcia and the sixth-largest city in Spain that is not a regional capital. The Cartagena area, known as Campo de Cartagena, homes nearly double that figure.

The city’s history revolves around its strategic port, hailed as one of the Mediterranean’s key defence hubs. Since the 18th century, Cartagena has been central to Spain’s maritime operations in the region. Landmarks like the Roman Theatre and various architectural treasures showcase its rich heritage.

Modern-day Cartagena sees itself morphing into a vibrant cruise destination while nurturing its cultural roots. The municipality includes charming villages like La Azohía and Los Urrutias, all under the umbrella of 24 distinct districts.

Despite centuries of exploitation, Cartagena’s surroundings are filled with diverse plants and animals. There are lots of different types of plants and animals in places like the coastal mountains and protected areas such as Mar Menor and Calblanque Natural Park. Even though there are factories and lots of tourists, nature still does well here.

Economically, energy-related activities are among the main ones in the area, while agriculture and shipbuilding continue to play significant roles. Notably tourism and hospitality, have increased, in recent years.

Cartagena offers a unique experience, from its historic port to its beautiful beaches, making it a must-visit destination.

Roman Theatre

TUCKED away in the coastal city of Cartagena, lies the Roman Theatre. Built between the 5th and 1st century BC, this ancient amphitheatre boasts a rich history and stunning architecture.

Originally constructed for the entertainment of Roman citizens, the theatre could accommodate up to 6,000 spectators. Imagine the buzz of excitement as crowds gathered to watch theatrical performances, gladiator battles, and other spectacles.

Over the centuries, the theatre fell into disrepair, buried beneath the rubble of time. However, in the late 20th century, excavation efforts uncovered its grandeur once again. Today, visitors can wander through the well-preserved ruins, marvelling at the intricate stonework and imagining the events that once unfolded within these walls.

The Roman Theatre stands as a testament to Cartagena’s ancient past, offering a glimpse into the lives of its former inhabitants. So, if you find yourself wandering the streets of this charming Spanish city, be sure to pay a visit to this remarkable piece of history.

Step back in time at Cartagena’s Roman Theatre Image: Shutterstock/ BearFotos

Cruising Cartagena

THE Port of Cartagena is set to welcome 17,000 tourists aboard 17 cruises in May, including the illustrious Disney Dream. The diversity of vessels, from expeditions to luxury liners, highlights Cartagena’s ambition to become a premier cruise destination.

The arrival of the Odyssey of the Seas from Málaga marked the beginning of a bustling month for the port city. Royal Caribbean’s colossal ship, accommodating 4,198 guests stopped over.

Notably, the National Geographic Explorer, a Lindblad Expeditions vessel renowned for its polar expeditions, docked recently. Another triple call takes place in May, as the Corinthian, Star Legend, and Bolette bring around 1,200 cruisers to Cartagena. The month concludes with a double call, featuring Scenic Eclipse and Crystal Symphony, along with other notable vessels.

Cruise tourism is a big deal in Cartagena, adding to the city’s vibrant tourism scene. Its mix of history and architecture makes it a hit with cruise passengers. So, more and more cruise ships are dropping anchor here, bringing in more tourists and showing off Cartagena to the world.

Smooth sailing ahead Image: Shutterstock/ Paulo Miguel Costa

Local News

Record Turnout

MORE than 50,000 people enjoyed La Noche de Los Museos (The Night of the Museums) in Cartagena, making it the most-attended event in its history. Both locals and tourists took part in the cultural activities organised by the Cartagena City Council on Saturday, May 18. Museums stayed open until 1 am, offering over 200 free activities throughout the day. The event featured live music, dance performances, and parades.

The most visited sites were the Roman Theatre with 8,000 visitors, the Military History Museum with 7,000, and the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology ARQVA with 4,500. The Roman Theatre alone saw double the number of visitors compared to the previous year.

Visitors explored local modernist architecture, the history of Carthago Nova, 19th-century windmills, military heritage, glassblowing crafts, and cultural landmarks like the Teatro Circo Apolo. Street performances, like the Oniria show with illuminated giants, captivated audiences in plazas and from bustling restaurant terraces. The weekend also hosted the Cartagena Puerto de Sabores food fair, offering traditional and modern dishes and drinks, including underwater-aged wines.

Cartagena’s museums come alive Image: Cartagena City Hall.

Teatro Circo

NOELIA Arroyo, the mayor of Cartagena, has announced a major renovation for the Nuevo Teatro Circo. This project will be led by Paco Leal, the technical director of the Almagro Festival, who also renovated the Teatro Circo in Murcia. According to Arroyo, they have an excellent plan to modernise the theatre and restore it to its former grandeur.

The details of the renovation will be revealed next week. This project is part of a broader effort by the city to enhance its cultural venues. Besides the Nuevo Teatro Circo, the city has invested in the Cultural Centre Luzzy, plans to improve the Auditorio Paco Martín’s surroundings, boost the Teatro Apolo de El Algar, and develop the Cine Central project.

For Cartagena, these upgrades mean a significant boost to its cultural scene. Improved infrastructure will attract more performances and events, meeting the city’s growing cultural demands. This transformation aims to make Cartagena a cultural hub, benefiting both residents and visitors.

Theatre Transformation Image: Facebook/ Nuevo Teatro Circo

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!