The Roman side of Cartagena, Murcia

Helena Guerrero Gonzalez | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The east coast of Spain is probably one of the most touristic destinations in my country that attracts tons and tons of visitors every year. Almost every foreigner has visited or heard of Cataluña and the Valencian Community – however, only very few people have visited Murcia or heard about a beautiful, full of history Spanish city called Cartagena. Cartagena has always played a significant role in the Spanish history due to its location. The city still has plenty of historical remains, which tell the visitors a lot about its relevance in the past, making Cartagena a charming town.

© iStock/EREEE

Cartagena is a Spanish city and a major naval station located in the region of Murcia, by the Mediterranean coast, south-eastern Spain. In January 2018, it had a population of 213,943 inhabitants, being the second-largest municipality of Murcia. It is the first of several cities that eventually have been named 'Cartagena'- most notably Cartagena de Indias (Cartagena of the Indies) in Colombia.

With more than 3,000 years of history, Cartagena has been the scene of some of the most incredible passages in history. Each corner, street, and square of the city offers travelers great examples of its splendorous historical past. Today, this Punic, Roman, military, and modern city offers many things to see and do, and, in this article, I am going to tell you about some of my favorite monuments in Cartagena. Though, if you are thinking about visiting this Mediterranean city, it would be a good idea to go to the tourist office to find out all the information about the many things and experiences the city offers.

© iStock/kamira777

The city had its heyday during the Roman Empire when it was known as Carthago Nova (the New Carthage) and Carthago Spartaria, the capital of the province of Carthaginensis. This ancient civilization has left a lot of unique artistic heritage in Spain, with several landmarks in Cartagena, such as the Roman Theatre- the second largest of the Iberian Peninsula after the one in Mé[rida (the capital of Extremadura)]( Let me tell you in detail about some of these Ro[man landmarks]( that make Cartagena such a unique city on the Mediterranean Coast.

The Roman Forum District

The Roman Forum District stands as one of the largest urban archaeological sites in Spain. I wholeheartedly recommend you to take a stroll through the ancient pavements of Carthago Nova and explore the different rooms of the thermal baths on the port, whose entrance portico maintained the original flooring. You can also discover how were the banquets in the Roman Empire while visiting the Building of the Atrium with its high walls and decorations.

Roman Theatre

In 1990, the first remains of what today is one of the most impressive monuments of the city of Cartagena were discovered accidentally. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive Roman theatres throughout Spain and Europe, after the amazing one in Merida.

© iStock/Rudolf Ernst

It was built in 44 BC when Octavian Augustus was emperor, and Cartagena was a Roman colony going through a period of high population and economic development. Due to its location, the theatre has witnessed different periods of history, from the Roman Empire era, up to the present. There were, of course, overlapping constructions of each of the historical periods. The Roman Theatre was built almost entirely in the rock on a hill. Thanks to the reuse of the remains of the theatre in the 5th century, 60% of the authentic materials of the theatre have been preserved. Visitors can also find Greek marble sculptures brought from Rome. Amazing, right?

The Roman side of Cartagena, which includes the Roman Theatre and the Roman Forum, is my favorite part of the city. Though there are many other landmarks in Cartagena that are absolutely wonderful and I encourage you to visit this city located in Murcia and explore its beauty and history.  

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