Cartagena: City of Culture
Cartagena is a beautiful city, open to the sea, offering the visitor an insight into Spain's dramatic history and culture
The city was founded by the Carthaginians, who named it Quart Hadast, in the year 227 a.d. and it is the port where the famous general Hannibal entered into Europe with his troops with the intention of conquering Rome.
In the year 209 a.d.Cartagena fell under Roman rule and was renamed Cartagho Nova and from this point in history its status as a principal Spanish town evolved. Symbols of this era were the Roman Theatre and Amphitheatre whose remains can be viewed to this day in the various archaeological museums.
Following the Roman period the Visigoths, Byzantines and Muslims occupied the city in turn until it finally came under Christian rule in 1245 in the reign of King Alfonso X, The Wise.
In the eighteenth century Cartagena regained its strategic importance when it became the naval and military capital of Europe with its arsenal, castle and fortifications that are still very much in evidence today.
During the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39, the city was a strong hold of the Republican government and, together with Alicante, it was one of the last cities to fall into the hands of General Franco.
Cartagena was the birth place and home of Isaac Peral, inventor of the first submarine in 1888, which is on display in the port.
The richness of this city's history is never better portrayed than during its fiesta celebrations, the most important of which take place at Easter (Semana Santa) and during the last two weeks of September. The latter commemorates the conflict between the Romans and the Carthaginians and over 5,500 participants dressed as troops and legionnaires assemble in the area known as "El Campamento" where wine and tapas are served in abundance.
The gastronomy of Cartagena is influenced by produce from both the land and the sea. Its most popular dishes are the "Caldero", a tasty fish casserole, "Micherones" which are a type of broad bean cooked in a sauce and "Patatas al ajo Cabañil", potatoes with garlic.
No one should leave Cartagena without tasting its speciality drink called "Asiatico", a coffee made with condensed milk, brandy and a touch of cinnamon, served in a special glass.
Cartagena is a fascinating place to visit and its atmosphere manages to transport the visitor into the Spain of yesteryear. Memories of classroom history lessons will be brought alive whilst wandering its narrow streets or looking out to sea from its protective walls and battlements.
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