For those of you wanting to get to know even more than locals do, we have plotted some tours to show Cartagena’s real local soul, the chosen spots deserving an unhurried visit. Do you dare to join us on these 5 visits?
ART-NOUVEAU CEMETERY TOUR
One of the true local hidden gems in Cartagena is its main cemetery, built in the wings of the development brought to the city by the late 19th Mining Heyday. Local tycoons wanted to leave a true mark of his wealth on earth, and funerary monuments were a good way to do so; thus, the most accomplished architects of the time were chosen to design them in the prevailing Art-Nouveau style , that in the area was more ecletical-oriented. The result was a fascinating display of symbols and secret signs through which these people aimed at gaining their place is posterity: winged sandwatches, skulls and snakes, to name but a few, all of them decorating the gorgeous-looking tombs and mausoleums from that period. The cemetery lies in the outskirts of the city when driving into the port area, very close to the main hospital.
BIRD WATCHING TOUR
The easiest and most convenient location to do some bird watching in the area is, no doubt, the Regional Park of San Pedro Salt Marshes, located north of the inland salted lagoon known as Mar Menor. By paying a visit to the park, you will get to know the unique environment of this coastal wetland through a quiet stroll always over flat ground. Birds such as flamingos , little egrets, shelducks, black-winged stilts, avocets and many different species of seagulls either have their home here or find in this spot a resting station on their way south. In addition to this, the scenery is really beautiful; here you are surrounded by ponds belonging to the salt marshes, and you can make your way through a pine forest in which trees take some very strange forms. And only a few meters from the forest, you’ll find the Mediterranean and a welcoming beach of pristine sand.
ALGAMECA: MAIN WATERCOURSE
This is a tour to one of the most unsuspected spots in Cartagena, one that only the very locals know about: the city’s ancient watercourse nowadays known as La Algameca, whose traditional function was to lead water from floods into the sea. Up to the 18th century, those waters from floods got the harbor, but when the Spanish Navy chose to locate their facilities on the right extreme of the bay by the 18th century, the existing ravine was diverted behind one of the hills surrounding the harbor. The resulting new watercourse – La Algameca Chica –, when getting to the sea, began to be used by locals as a humble summer resort. Tour starts by a really beautiful Art-Nouveau building from the local Mining Heyday, to continue alongside the now dry ravine and passing by quite impressive remaining pieces of the 18th century wall until getting to the mouth of the watercourse, already by the sea.
TREASURES FROM PORTMAN
South of Mar Menor, in the Mediterranean coastline between Cartagena and La Manga, lies a beautiful bay thru which first Romans and much later British took to their homeland the metals they mined in the area, such as led or iron. That bay, formerly known as Portus Magnus and nowadays as Portman, has a very interesting heritage wealth, really worth learning about, as it is rarely advertised. Always surrounded by a quite distinctive mining landscape, tours gets started by walking along an original Roman causeway, to later pass by the remains of an ancient villa belonging to a local roman notable, producer of garum, the dressing sauce so succesful in that empire, and after a coffee break in the heart of the mining town, route will be finished by beholding several amazing roman mosaics discovered during archaeological excavations carried out in the area, and exhibited in a very seldom open local museum.
CALBLANQUE HIKING TOUR
Truly considered as the authentic jewel of the local nature, Calblanque Regional Park lies in-between the Mar Menor’s south shore and the Mediterranean, hidden behind a mountain range; it is actually a paradise of pre-desertic scenery where you can enjoy unspoilt beaches, sand dunes, palm trees and bushes, all marvelously preserved… But not only this: salt marshes, surrounded by hills in a central basin, are to be found in the heart of the protected area, also fit for bird watching. If you don’t go for the cultural thing, this is truly the best hidden ecological treasure to be discovered in the area, an unique environment with some endemic vegetal species that only grow here, and some distinctive features as the fossil dunes. This tour consists of a 90 minute hike around the park to enjoy all of its untouched beauty with the option, weather permitting, of having a final swim in a long unspoilt beach of fine ochre sand…