Hannibal’s capital in Spain
Fine Modernist buildings by Beltri
The Castillo de la Concepción

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A labyrinth of medieval streets

Discover Cartagena on your MSC Mediterranean cruise to Spain: when you arrive in the old town from the Mediterranean Sea and the port, you can see the real character of the place, with its narrow medieval streets, packed with bars and restaurants. Hannibal’s capital city on the Iberian peninsula, it was named after his Carthage in North Africa, and was a strategic port and administrative centre for the Romans.

In this connection, the Museo Nacional de Arqueología Subacuática, on the outer walls of the Arsenal on the way to the lighthouse, has a reconstructed Roman galley and lots of interesting exhibits, including one section focused on naval history and navigation, and another on Mediterranean ports and items salvaged from shipwrecks. Continuing on the theme, the Museo Archeológico Municipal is built on a Roman burial ground and offers a good introduction to the ancient history of the city.
The excellent collection of Roman artefacts includes an impressive display of glass, plus Romanesque art and sculptures.

MSC Mediterranean cruise excursions also offer the best way to get a feel of the city’s rich past: a simple stroll. On your way, you’ll see a large number of modernista buildings, most of which are the work of former Cartagenian and disciple of Gaudí, Victor Beltri. Worth a particular look are Casa Maestre in Plaza San Francisco; Casa Cervantes, c/Mayor 15; and the old Hotel Zapata, Plaza de España.

To explore more of Cartagena’s history, take the signposted path or lift to the interesting displays at the impressive Castillo de la Concepción, and you can also wander around the old walls, where look-out points afford panoramic views of the town and surrounding landscape.

Must see place in Cartagena

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    Love at first sight
    Love at first sight

    If you’re visiting Spain for the first time, be warned: this is a country that fast becomes an addiction. You might intend to come just for a cruise holiday, a walking tour or a city break, but before you know it you’ll find yourself hooked by something quite different – the celebration of some local fiesta, perhaps, or the otherworldly architecture of Barcelona.

    Even in the most over-touristic Mediterranean resorts of the Costa del Sol, you’ll be able to find an authentic bar or restaurant where the locals eat, and a village not far away where an age-old bullfighting tradition owes nothing to tourism. 

    A holiday to Spain can also show you the large cities of the north like Barcelona, which have reinvented themselves as essential cultural destinations (and don’t all close down for hours for a kip every afternoon). 

    And when the world now looks to Spain for culinary inspiration – the country has some of the most acclaimed chefs and innovative restaurants in the world – it’s clear that things have changed. Spain, despite the current economic uncertainty, sees itself very differently from a generation ago. 

    So should you – prepare to be surprised.