On May 4th we visited the beautiful Mediterranean port city of Cartegena, Spain, population 220,000.
It was a charming city that we liked very much. Once again, instead of scheduling a ship excursion, we decided to explore on our own. We purposely had a late breakfast to let the thundering herd of eager passengers get off first. By the time we left the ship, there were no lines at the elevators or gangway.
Cartegena was founded by the Carthaginians around 220 B.C. There are Roman ruins including a 1st century Roman theater.
After stopping by the information booth at the port entrance to get a map of the city, we headed to the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, a fortress. In order to get to the fortress located high above the city, we first took a lift to the top. What a beautiful panoramic view we had of the city!
The castle fortress was built in 1536 by African slave labor under Spanish rule during the colonial era. Its high location in a strategic position provided protection from enemies by land or sea. The triangular shape included eight batteries and a garrison of 200 soldiers and four gunners.
Today, Cartegena is an important naval base. The inventor of the first battery powered submarine, Isaac Peral, came from Cartegena.
As we walked along we saw many tiled pictures like this.
We also saw the beautiful The Royal Basilica of Our Lady of Charity is a neoclassical Catholic temple with a metal structure.
After visiting the fort we walked to the popular and pedestrian friendly street, Calle Mayor, in the heart of downtown and not far from the harbor. Closed to traffic, it is a very clean, picturesque area of stores and restaurants where people stroll along or sit at little sidewalk cafes enjoying coffee or a meal with pleasant sea breezes. Above the stores and restaurants are apartments and residences. The architecture is stunning.
Battle of Santiago de Cuba was a decisive naval engagement that occurred on July 3, 1898 between an American fleet, led by William T. Sampson and Winfield Scott Schley, against a Spanish fleet. This monument is in commemoration of the Spanish losses.
After logging almost five miles, we returned to the ship. One thing we have noticed is the sidewalks in Spain are usually cobblestone, tile or marble. They can be slick and are definitely harder on the feet and legs. We had a great day and we would definitely like to return here again someday.
Next up: Barcelona, Spain