This coastal city also has a very relevant architectural heritage from contemporary times, mostly belonging to the 18th century military period and to its late 19th century Mining Heyday, which you can explore through these 5 routes.
CIVIL WAR TOUR
Did you ever know that, for a few months by the late 19th century, Cartagena declared itself like an independent Republic from the rest of the country, even asking the EEUU to become an associate state? This event, known as the Cantonal Uprising, was the actual prelude to the early 20th century, when very hard times came, as the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) brought heavy bombings over civil population for the first time in history. We will be paying a visit to the different local scenarios for that war, such as the Artillery Headquarters or the Air Raid Shelters, to end the tour by one of the huge military facilities from the 18th century that was used as Naval Hospital all along the past century, up to 1984.
Built on the wings of the development brought by the late 19th century Mining Heyday, Cartagena’s old quarter is one of the most important Art-Noveau ensembles in Spain. The local mining tycoon’s private town-houses stand in line along the main street, together with public buildings such as the Grand Hotel and the magnificent Town-Hall, but each of them built in a complete different fashion. On top of beholding beautiful examples of local architecture, you will be taken inside the exclusive membership club that the casino actually was, for you to revisit the glitter of those bygone days. Tour will be ended by enjoying a glass of wine in these same premises.
Cartagena’port has always been considered the best natural harbour in the Western Mediterranean, mainly on account of the hills surrounding it, that sheltered ships from the wind during winter. By the 18th century it became completely fortified with coastal batteries. We will start our tour strolling along the seafront promenade, to get to know some of the main naval facilities from that time and the wall built by the same period to prevent attacks from the sea. Later on we will take a boat that, after sailing us around the harbor, will drop us by the main of its defensive fortifications, the so-called Christmas Fort, for you to enjoy both history & scenery from a different point of view. In the way back you will discover other corners of the harbour such as the fishing pier and the two jettys built during the 20th century.
MINING HEYDAY TOUR
For nearly 70 years, from the middle 19th century to the end of the First World War, cigars were lighted with money bills, in La Unión –just 11 kilometers east of Cartagena-, the whole area becoming known as the South European California. This tour digs in the glory days of that Mining Heyday by taking you to the capital of that wealthy period in the area, the town of La Unión, to discover such magnificent buildings as the Casa del Piñón or the Municipal Market, the latter also being the see for a nationally famous Flamenco Festival held each year in this town. After that architectural stroll, we will head for the Mining Park, for you to get on a trolley train that will take you to the bowels of earth, as you will visiting the only mine that has been open for public tours, Agrupa Vicenta, a really amazing experience you won’t forget.
Although it had already been chosen as the see for the Galleys Squad one century earlier, Cartagena became one of the three main Navy Headquarters in Spain by the 18th century, in an attempt to challenge the british supremacy in the seas. In order to take you back to that time, this tour’s itinerary starts by the port, as its harbor was always considered as the best natural one lying by the Western Mediterranean, and continues to the Naval Museum where, on top of getting a whole explanation of the core exhibits relating to the city and its long naval history, you will be shown the building itself, formerly a prison that housed inmates and slaves. Just beside this facility is to be found the symbol of the city: Peral’s submarine, a device invented by a local Navy lieutenant that became the first underwater engine running with electricity. Truly a local must!