Cartagena (pronounced Car-ta-hey-na) is a Spanish city and a major naval station located in the Region of Murcia.
We love visiting Cartagena, especially when we reunite with old friends and new. Our favorite ‘tour guide’ is Paco, a Spaniard who we met over 4 years ago at Estacion Inglesa. Since then, we stayed in touch through emails, WhatsApp messages and Facebook. So, whenever get the chance, we invite along some friends and introduce them to the beauty of Cartagena. So, here are our Top 6 Reasons why we keep going back.
Reason #1: The Weather
Located in southeastern Spain in the Mediterranean, the climate in Cartagena is one that anyone would enjoy year-round. May is the hottest month in Cartagena with an average temperature of 29°C (84°F) and the coldest is January at 27°C (80°F). The wettest month is October with an average of 150mm (6 inches) of rain. In August, the average sea temperature is 25°C (77°F) which makes it the best month to swim in the sea.
We lived in this wonderful city for 6 weeks back in 2014 and go back every 2 years. This time, part of our latest Alicante – Cartagena adventure. Read more about it here.
Reason #2: The Architecture
When you first arrive into Cartagena, it will be impossible to miss the Palacio Consistorial de Cartagena (Cartagena City Hall). Designed by Tomás Rico Valarino, construction began in 1900 and finished in 1907.
In 1995, work began to renovate the building and took more than 7 years to bring it to its current spectacular grandeur.
Palacio Consistorial de Cartagena
Plaza Ayuntamiento, 1, 30202 Cartagena, Murcia, Spain
Reason #3: Gastronomy
Imagine a place where the freshest and diverse fruits and vegetables along with products from the Mediterranean Sea are used to create incredible dishes. In Cartagena, Romans, Phoenicians and Arabs have left their culinary imprint and traditional cuisine that has been passed down from generation to generation that fostered a cultural mix of flavors. Enjoy local bars like La Uva Jumillana, Bodega La Fuente, Sabor Andaluz, Aperitivos el Vinagrillo and many more.
The pedestrian zone spans from Ayuntamiento to Plaza de España with shops, cafés, restaurants, and pretty much anything you need. The streets here are slate or granite, something so shiny and beautiful you’d think you were inside, not outside. Be careful though when it rains (once in a blue moon) because it becomes slick to walk on.
Reason #5: Monuments
Imagine a port city as an outdoor art gallery. You are then picturing Cartagena.
Cross the street and you will see a large monument called “Monument to the Heroes of Cavite and Santiago de Cuba”, a memorial dedicated to all those who died during the Spanish-American War of 1898. This impressive memorial is in remembrance of two Naval battles of 1898 in which Spain’s forces suffered complete defeats. The battle of Santiago de Cuba was the largest single naval conflict of the Hispano-American war and resulted in loss of Spain’s Caribbean fleet – 474 dead and wounded (as opposed to only one American). The battle of Cavite in the Philippines ended with the Spanish Pacific fleet suffering a similar fate – 161 Spanish lives lost and one American who apparently died from heatstroke!
This monument is surrounded by flowers and trees which makes it a relaxing and tranquil place.
With over 300 days of sunshine, you can easiliy walk around the city and look for monuments like Christopher Columbus, Carmen Conde – writer, Charles III – completed the defensive system of the port area, the Whale’s Tail – a sculpture five metres high by eight metres wide, weighing approximately 24 tons, St. James the Apostle and many more.
Reason #6: History
Cartagena, Spain is the perfect location if you have a passion for ancient history. It was a naval port as far back as the 16th century and is still one of the most important in the western Mediterranean. Along with a base for warships and a shipyard, the port is now a major destination for cruise ships.
The city of Cartagena, founded in 227 BC by the Carthaginians, has been inhabited for over two millennia. It was from Cartegena in 223 BC that the Cartheginian general, Hannibal, one of the greatest military commanders in history, marched his invading army into Iberia and later set off with his elephants over the Alps to conquer Rome.
One of our favorite parts of Cartagena were the Roman ruins. We enjoyed an extensive tour around the Teatro Romano . As we walked around the well-preserved Roman theatre and climbed the stairs between the marble seats one can imagine what it was like to attend a piece of theater back in those days. There is also a museum that includes Roman statues and artefacts and an underground passage with remains of walls, a Moorish dwelling and an ancient cathedral. There’s still lots remaining of Roman Cartagena including a whole town block and street linking the port to the forum.