The day was mostly cloudy and very windy, especially at the top of Conception Castle (Castillo de la Concepción). We had a long walking tour and it started with the climb to the top of castle on the tallest hill overlooking the harbor. By the time we got there, we were all a bit tired. Fortunately, our tour guide made stops along the way to point out various aspects of the city and to give us short climbing breaks. I recorded a short panoramic movie from the top of the castle. You can hear the guide speaking in the background. You can also see and hear the wind.
The first picture I took on this walking tour was of the Plaza de Toros, an old bull fighting ring built on top of an ancient Roman amphitheater. This building site is now being excavated for archeological artifacts prior to being established as a museum.
You can see the difference in height between the two pictures. The first was taken at the beginning of our climb and the second was taken about 2/3 of the way to the top of the castle. Surrounding this site is a naval military academy. Cartagena is the home of the Spanish Navy on the Mediterranean.
Also on the way to the top of the castle we encountered several beautiful peacocks. Actually, these birds were heard well before they were seen. They have a very loud call, or screech. Here is a link to a short You Tube video of the sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MhZPqHeEAQ . And here are two pictures of the birds we saw:
From the castle, we descended into an archeological area where each succeeding civilization built on top of the preceding one. In one picture, you can see the older Roman theater upon which the Moors built a mosque upon which the Catholics built a church, each using materials from the previous generations.
Behind the stage on the last picture is a building used to house the performers and their entourages. The shell of the three story building gives some idea of the number of people that could be housed to support performances.
From there we descended further into the city, where we saw many active shops, government buildings and a museum. I took a photo of one of the buildings decorated from the late 19th century to the early 20th century with some beautiful tile work:
This was followed by a visit to a the museum dedicated to the original wall built in the Punic period (Punic is synonymous with Phoenician) which was the predominant culture in the region prior to the rise of Rome. The wall actually had an inner and and outer wall. In between were rooms that housed the defenders of the city.
From this city, Hannibal set out with his elephants to attack the Romans.
Also inside the wall is a crypt from the 16th and 17th centuries where skeletal remains of the residences (mostly women from the convent established at that time) can be seen. On the walls are macabre images of death. Here are two pictures showing the crypt area from a distance and a close up of two of the crypts. Notice the Skeletal art in the first picture:
After leaving this museum, we strolled past another excavation sight on top of which is the remains of a windmill. This area is being worked currently and will add significantly to our understanding of the rich history in this important shipping port.
On the way back to our ship, I couldn’t help but snap a picture of the Gran Hotel de Cartagena built between 1907 and 1916. What a beautiful piece of architecture.
The featured image for this post was a simple street view looking from the port back into the old city with its many shops, cafes, offices, etc. Here it is, one more time: