SPAIN - AREA INFORMATION - CARTAGENA
Cartagena is a Spanish Mediterranean city and naval
station in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula in the
autonomous community of Region of Murcia. Cartagena has
been the capital of the Spanish Navy's Maritime Department
of the Mediterranean since the arrival of the Spanish
Bourbons in the eighteenth century. As far back as the
sixteenth century it was one of the most important naval
ports in Spain, together with Ferrol in the North.
It is a walled town and has a fine harbour defended by
forts. In the time of Philip II of Spain, it was a major
naval seaport of Spain. It is still an important naval
seaport, the main military haven of Spain, and there is a
big naval shipyard.
Cartagena was founded about 230 BC by Carthaginian general
Hasdrubal as Qart Hadast, Punic for "new city". Hasdrubal
extended the newly acquired Carthaginian Empire in Iberia
by skilful diplomacy, and consolidated it by the
foundation of Qart Hadast in an excellent haven as the
capital of a new province. Hannibal got silver from the
mines there to carry on the war against Rome.
When it was taken by the Roman general Scipio Africanus
Major in 209 BC it was renamed as Carthago Nova, Latin for
"New Carthage". At the time Carthago Nova was said to be
one of the richest cities in the world. The city gave its
name (without the 'new') to the youngest province in the
Hispania diocese, in the form of an adjective:
Cartagena has been the "Spanish capital of the Maritime
Department of the Mediterranean" since 18th century in
1873; the garrison arose against the First Spanish
Republic and formed the independent Cartagena Canton.
Since they had the best part of the Spanish Navy, they
cruised the Spanish Mediterranean trying to bring them to
Cantonalism. The Federalist Spanish government declared
them a pirate fleet, encouraging foreign countries to
chase and sink them.
Cartagena's sense of self-importance appeared again during
the establishment of Autonomous Communities in Spain. Some
Cartageneros were not happy to be in the same region as
The Autonomy Act struck a compromise by having Murcia as
the seat of the regional government and Cartagena as the
seat of the parliament.
Cartagena has many archaeological sites. Ruins identified
as a temple to Melqart have been uncovered. Throughout the
old centre you can find museums with remains of Roman
Cartagena was the birthplace of Isadora of Seville, the
Director of the Holy See (Vatican) Press Office Joaquin
Navarro Valls and the Spanish writer Arturo Perez Reverte.
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