Here is an account of David Billington’s visit to Cartagena.
Much has already been written about Cartagena, but I thought I would like to share these few ideas for anyone who would like to visit some of the basics in this city. I had family on holiday with me, a couple in their late 70’s, who love to explore but like limited walking.
First of all I drove straight to the port area and parked in the underground car park which is open 24 hours and has security personnel. It is in my opinion reasonably priced for the 4 or 5 hours I spent there. Walking up from the car park, you arrive on quite a long promenade. The port has a commercial shipping area, a marina for leisure craft and a large Naval Base.
On the day that I chose to go and purely by co-incidence, the P & O Cruise ship called Ventura was in port for the day, so it was quite busy with ‘tourists’. It was also a great surprise for my relatives because they are going on a cruise in September on this very same ship. Having never been on a cruise ship myself, I was staggered by the enormous size of the Ventura; it is a massive floating hotel.
After my Uncle had stopped some British tourists to talk about the ship, we moved along and had a look at the permanent fixture of the Isaac Peral Submarine, which is said to be the first submarine ever built, by a Spaniard, but it never had the funding to secure its future. On the promenade itself there are a number of eateries and bars, including a MacDonalds, plus something to cater for all tastes and pockets.
After spending time exploring this area, we crossed over the road, into the main Town Hall Square. The façade’s of the buildings here are quite magnificent, well worth a look at, along with a variety of monuments and statues that depict the Naval history of Cartagena. There is a tourist information office just at the beginning of this square.
We had a walk through the square and along the narrow road called Calle Mayor de Casco Antiguo (the main road of the old quarter). Again there are some interesting buildings to look at and shops to browse around plus many bars and restaurants. On this main road, we stopped off at a large church the Iglesia de Santo Domingo and had a good look around inside; this is a very nicely decorated church, like many others that you see around Spain. One thing I will mention though is that there were a handful of beggars around the church, not pestering people but hoping to obtain money from tourists.
Having wandered around for about an hour, it was time to eat and back to the Town Hall Square, where once more, there are quite a range of restaurants on offer in that locality. We chose the restaurant of Teatro Romano, The Roman Theatre museum restaurant. They did a menu del día for 11 euros per person, which is quite good for a tourist location and the food and service was very good. This is located in the Plaza Ayuntamiento.
After lunch we drove to the Castillo de Concepcion (Conception Castle). It is a place easy to get to by walking from the Town Hall square, but slightly strenuous for people with limited mobility. I parked for free by the old disused Plaza de Toros and University and did the short walk to the glass lift that takes you up to the castle grounds. The fee for the panoramic glass lift is around 1 euro return per person.
The castle grounds are free to walk around and the views across the city are spectacular. Have a look for the peacocks that roam around the park area. At the time that we went the castle was closed, so we did not wait around to go inside.
In my opinion this was just enough of a taster to look at the history and sights of this small part of the city. Obviously there is much more to do around Cartagena including a city tour on an open top bus and I would encourage anyone to spend at least a whole day exploring.
There are a couple of useful websites to look at, one for the Cartagena tourist information department: http://www.cartagena.es There is an English link then go to the tourism page. Another good website to look at is for the Port Authority and there is a link for dates and times when cruise ships will be docked in Port: http://www.apc.es/general/apc13c.asp. If you want a guide for your mobile device or Kindle, then buy the Cartagena City Guide.
NOTE: If you have visited a town in Murcia and want to share your account then get in touch. Many stories will get included in the next edition of the book!