Thursday, 4 September 2014

Day 122: Around Cartagena - Thurs 4 Sept

Day 122: Around Cartagena - Thurs 4 Sept
Humid early; twin tangerine kittens investigating vehicles (must be in/famous Cartegena Lions!!)

Walked to town, bus into Cartagena, coffee and croissants arrived but Ann and GirlRob had to wait ages for hot chocolate orders - turned out waitress couldn't understand us, so ignored the order until an English speaking staff arrived. Good thing we weren't in a rush... 

Started with Punic Wall experience, interesting long low building over wall remnants, could see down onto outer and inner walls (noting their strength and ease of access between), and walk down into remnants of 17th century burial crypt of the old Ermita de San Jose, (“with parts of its former inhabitants in residence and a macabre representation of the dance of death painted on the wall”). Between its five hills, Cartegena was in a naturally defendable position, almost an island. Firstly the Phonecians/Punics were attacked by Romans for their silver mines, but under Hannibal, who took his army of elephants across the Alps, succeeded against Italy in the Second Punic War. Rome again prevailed in Third Punic War, but power declined, a couple of Vandal kings took the city, then Cathage was taken by Arab conquerors after that. Phew – difficult history to follow…

Hannibal mounted his battle on backs of elephants
Inner and outer walls exposed




Moved on. Passed 1800s bullring which is being restored on top of earlier ruins, which will take many years and lots of money (which Spain doesn't have) before being unearthed. Took lift to top of lookout tower (too hot already to brave spiral staircase) and then walked up to castle ruins, through displays and out to gardens with ducks and peacocks, for panoramic views over city. Easy to see value of harbour to Mediterranean and strategic value of city walls. No sign of extensive lake that used to be behind city though... 
Bullring on top of ruins
Panoramic outdoor lift

Celebrating Hannibal - yet again...



Bypassed modern ampitheatre to look through ruins of Roman Theatre, which is in amazingly good condition - performances would still be interesting today. 

Lunched in outdoor cafe (Ann and GirlRob still on a quest to find the quintessential Spanish paella) in cool side street, before walking on MARBLE streets, past modernistic era architecture to view excavations of baths. Amazed at underground heating system that controlled temperatures throughout plunge pool, refrigerated room, tepid bath, hot bath, and sauna via underground system coming up through the flooring. 

Rich past - streets of marble!!


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