Spain's Cartagena is one of the world’s most fascinating cities with a history dating back more than 3, 000 years. Yet for a variety of reasons it remains little known in comparison with other places in Europe that have a much less distinguished heritage
HOW TO GET THERE -
Leave Roda and turn left at the roundabout take the 3rd exit.
Continue to the next roundabout and take the exit onto the AP7 for Cartagena.
Cartagena is a port city and its long history has always featured the sea. North Africa is only about 120 miles away across the Mediterranean and if you draw a line due south you will hit Oran in Algeria.
Sailors have been steering vessels in and out of the bay of Cartagena since time immemorial and today the port has developed into a highly successful centre of maritime trade.
Shopping in Cartagena is easy to enjoy, the commercial area is compact and there are no hills to worry about.
In fact, most of the shops can be found in a straight line that runs in from the underground car park at the waterfront. Park there and, with your back to the sea, face the city wall, cross the road and walk to the left. Pick up a map at the tourist booth.
At the corner of the wall, head inland. You will see a bench with a statue of a sailor sitting on it and then another statue of a sailor walking along. The newly-restored former town hall is on the left. A good place to stop for a coffee, breakfast or lunch, is VIPs restaurant, which you will find half a minute's walk up Calle Cañon, on the right. Or, there is the Valor chocolate café, in front of the old town hall, which serves delicious hot chocolate and other treats but no coffee.
From the old town hall just walk straight ahead into the pedestrianised Calle Mayor, always the fashionable heart of Cartagena. There are shops on the left and, as you walk further on, to both the left and right.
Then you will come to the end of the Calle Mayor and a street with traffic. This is the Puerta de Murcia, with plenty of shops. Carry on, past the ugly Barclay's Bank building, and you will see a beautiful building with a statue of a boy, one of Cartagena's famous street urchins, in front of it. This is the Pedreño House, now a bank, but once the palace of a very wealthy family where balls were held. If you can manage to get in, there is a terrific ballroom with chandeliers to see.
Head to the right of the Pedreño House and you are in the Calle Carmen, newly pedestrianised and smart. There are lots of shops here. Walk along until you come to a roundabout, at the end of the pedestrian area. Turn around there and walk back to the car park at the waterfront
CARTAGENA RACE CIRCUIT
This circuit is not well known but it has some excellant Bike and Motor races.