We arrived in the port of Cartagena today, planning to explore the city on our own. We’d seen online prior to arriving that there was another Moorish fortress castle here…Castillo Concepcion…so we planned to find that. We’d also read that there was a Spanish Civil War museum, and we thought it’d be cool for the kids to see that.
It was nice to be in a port that was very close to the city center. In many of our other ports of call, we had to take a taxi or shuttle bus to get into town because it was a couple miles walk, but today it was just across the street! After getting a bit lost looking for the castle (we followed the direction the crowds were turning, even though our instinct was to go the opposite way…our instinct was correct), we walked down the narrow streets and alleyways to finally find the castle and Civil War museum, which were right next to each other. We did the museum first.
The Spanish Civil War Museum is set inside an old air raid shelter that was built into the side of the hill that houses the Castillo Concepcion. The city of Cartagena apparently sympathized with the existing Spanish government during the war, which meant that they bore the brunt of many of the air raids led by the Republican group (and later, more air raids during WWII as Franco sympathized with Hitler and Mussolini). Thus, they built these air raid shelters to protect citizens. Kenneth was very interested in the museum. He generally loves all things history related, but was especially interested when he heard that his great grandfather left Spain because of the Spanish Civil War. We all found it very educational, especially because in U.S. history books, there is probably only about a page dedicated to this particular war, so none of us really knew all that much about it.
After the museum, we took the panoramic elevator up to the top of the hill to tour the castle. It’s not as well preserved as the Alcazaba was, but, again, heavy air raids took a toll on this city. There was a flock of several peacocks walking around the castle grounds, which of course fascinated the children. They also had some examples of medieval armor for everyone to look at. From the top, we also had views of the ruins of an old bullfighting ring.
On the walk back down the hill, we were treated to the incredible views of the ruins of the Roman Theater in Cartagena at the base of the hill. Also, we walked through the remains of a cathedral that had been bombed at some point during one of the wars that hit Cartagena.
We spent the rest of our time in the city doing a little shopping and having lunch. We went to a place called Columbus Restaurante, which has been open since 1932. We saw several members of the ship’s crew and entertainment staff eating in there…which is often how you can tell that a restaurant is actually good and not a tourist trap. We split yet another paella (both kids think this is one of the best foods ever), and some more Spanish ham. Delicious.
On our way back to the ship, it started to rain, so we scratched our plans to go to the pool for the rest of the afternoon. We headed up to the top of the ship to play Bocce ball on the lawn, but someone beat us to it. Instead, we goofed around, Belinda did cartwheels on the grass, and we sat in the giant Adirondack chairs. Overall, another great day in Spain.