Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cartagena

by Robert Bovington

Cartagena is old. It already had an illustrious past when the Roman general, Scipio, renamed it Carthago Nova - New Carthage - in 209 BC.

The city is an important port and naval base but its glory days were in the past - a bit like Portsmouth and Chatham really! So when I visited Cartagena recently, I was expecting to see decrepit, run-down areas with old dreary houses. I was pleasantly surprised! What I encountered was a bright airy city with pedestrianised boulevards and decorative buildings. One road in particular - Calle Major - is particularly attractive with shops, eating places and 19th-century mansions with colourful façades such as Cervantes House and Llagostera House both in Modernist style. The Grand Hotel is another building in this road that has modernist influences and a spectacular dome caps its circular façade.

Cartagena_Gran Hotel
There are attractive and historical buildings throughout the city as well as museums - many of a naval and military nature. There are also a number of archaeological sites including Carthaginian and Roman ruins.






Ayuntamiento

At one end of Calle Major is another extremely photogenic area - the Plaza de Ayuntamiento where the City Hall building is located. Nearby are attractive gardens that lead to the Paseo de Alfonso XII, which overlooks the marina. It is a pleasant place to sit with a glass of beer. The Peral Submarine is located on this promenade. 
According to local tourist information Isaac Peral, invented the submarine in 1889. Whilst Senor Peral undoubtedly designed the fine specimen of a U-boat that is on display, the locals are wrong to allege that he invented the submarine - a Dutchman, Cornelis Drebbel, built the first one in 1620! Submarines were also used during the American Civil War (1861-65). 
Cartagena - modernista building in Calle Mayor 



***text from SPANISH IMPRESSIONS

ISBN: 1445225433 ISBN-13: 9781445225432 ***



Robert Bovington

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