Cartagena - Ancient city of Spain Take a leisurely stroll around the city of Cartagena in south-eastern Spain and you can feel the history seeping from every wall. Cartagena was founded in ancient times (around 223BC) by the Carthaginians led by Hasdrubel and named Quart Hadas ("new city"). Hasdrubel died in 221BC and was succeeded by the famous Hannibal who used the city of Cartagena as his Iberian capital, attracted by its natural harbour surrounded by huge, rocky promontories. In 209BC the city was conquered by the Romans and given the name Carthago Nova ("new carthage"). It was re-conquered in later years by the Byzantines and by the Arabs who all left their mark on the city.
Amongst the places to visit from these ancient times are the Roman theatre from the 1st century BC, the Punic ramparts, the Litema (the ancient lighthouse) from the Arab presence and the Augusteum one of the best archaeological sites in the city, again Roman and from the 1st century BC � thought to have been the meeting place for the priesthood of the cult of Emperor Augustus.
Due to its location and its deepwater port Cartagena has for centuries been a major commercial centre and was recognised as being one of the wealthiest cities of the ancient world. It still remains as Spain's major commercial port and naval base and is famous as the birthplace of the first submarine (1884) � which is still proudly displayed on the quayside. Cartagena has also been a major mining area, the surrounding mountains being rich in metallic ores.
A popular way to view this city is from the top deck of an open topped bus. The half-hour trip will take you to some of the popular attractions, complete with an audio guide in several languages. However the best way to get around the city is by foot and as well as the ancient remains and historical buildings there is a busy and modern shopping centre boasting large department stores such as El Corte Ingles which is well worth a visit.
For holidaymakers staying in the popular resorts along the Costa Blanca and the Costa Calida it is a "must visit" location. Situated very handily on the N332 and at the end of the AP-7 motorway from Alicante, it is just a short drive for many visitors to the area. A very cheap way to travel is to take the regular bus which runs along the N332 from Alicante, picking up at major towns such as Santa Pola, Guardamar, and Torrevieja.
Also very popular along the surrounding coast is scuba diving � the crystal clear waters are ideal for this modern pursuit and a huge variety of fish can be seen including morays, stonefish and octopus. If you are lucky you may find the remnants of old wooden galleons, many of which foundered off the coast during centuries of wars and conflict.
Modern day Cartagena is undergoing major changes with a huge restoration program and the city is looking forward to renewed wealth and success.
So this is the ancient city of Cartagena on the Costa Calida, Spain, easing itself into the 21st century.
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