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Cartagena is found on the southern Costa Calida in Murcia Region. It has been a very important harbour since the ancient era due to the strategic position and deep moorings. Today Cartagena city is the base of a large fleet of the Spanish navy. In more recent years the local government has invested a great deal of cash to help turn Cartagena into a popular visitor destination. There are now plenty of attractions that include museums, old palaces and beautiful churches. Nearly all of the main sights are found within strolling distance of each other in the historic centre.

Cartagena was originally founded by the Carthaginians (thus the name), but later fell within Roman control and became an major Roman settlement, although there are not very many visible remains of their occupation. The notable exception is the amazing remains of a theatre that has recently been excavated which is most notable for the tiers of seating which were built into the hillside. Another interesting Roman monument is the ancient Augusteum, named because this was the meeting place for a religious cult inspired by the Emperor Augustus. Many of the relics from both these sites are now on show in the local Municipal Museum of Archaeology, which follows Cartagena history up until modern times.

The Santa Maria de Gracia church, which dates to the early 18th century, is another of the fine buildings in Cartagena, containing some wonderful sculptures by Salzillo, including the Four Saints. Near to the church are the remnants of the medieval Castle Concepcion and from there are some excellent vistas over the town.

The local seafaring history is featured in two museums, the Naval and the National Museum of Maritime Archaeology. The former is housed in a Modernista type building constructed in the early 20th century, with a large selection of old maps and models of sailing ships, as well as a section dedicated to Isaac Peral, designer of the Peral submarine in 1888 that is found nearby in the Cartagena marina. The highlights of the National Museum of Maritime Archaeology include artifacts recovered from ship wrecks, with an interesting display of an ancient Roman boat, plus models of old ships, ancient maps and other documents.

For those planning to visit most of the local historic places, the Cartagena Card, wich is available from tourism offices, is a good investment as it is valid for a fortnight for free admission to many places and free rides on the tourist bus.

There are plenty of other activities available in the Cartagena region, such as sailing, scuba diving and windsurfing. South of the city is an unspoilt length of coastline forming the Calblanque Regional Park, famous for its small bays, sand dunes and beautiful beaches. There are also mountains with pine woods, which are excellent for walking, bicycling and bird spotting.

The closest place to fly to Cartagena is Murcia airport or San Javier, about 18 miles north, but there are no direct coaches from there to Cartagena, but cabs should cost roughly 40 euros.
For loads more travel advice and information about Cartagena, Costa Calida please visit Cartagena

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