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11·MAR·2015

A Day Out in Cartagena

Your day out in Murcia by car rental can be as relaxing or as strenuous as you wish on a visit to the Castillo de Concepcion in Cartagena, a magnificent fortress built by the Phonecians in around 227BC. Choose a fine day in order to appreciate the breath-taking views of the port below. The Civil War display in Cartagena The castle has undergone a number of name changes at the hands of its various stewards, once known as Qart Hadasht, also Carthago Nova and Spartaria – later Qartayannat al Halfa, dominating the province’s second city and one of Spain’s major ports. Panoramic Elevator You can get to the castle by simply climbing the hill but it is far more comfortable to take advantage of the impressive glass 45m Panoramic Elevator that effortlessly carries its passengers to the top of the hill, arriving at the roof terrace in no time and costing only 2€. Not recommended for anyone with a fear of heights, the elevator tower is made entirely of glass to afford a fabulous all round view. Glass elevator Castillo de Concepcion in Cartagena Once you get to the top there is an information centre and all the usual castle-esque things to do – combo tickets may be purchased online at www.cartagenapuertodeculturas.com The 3.75€ entry is quite good value for the 30 – 40 minute tour which is accompanied by English subtitles. The walk back down the hill is most enjoyable and you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Roman Theatre on the way. The gardens gently meander down the hill and are beautifully tended, featuring ancient cannons and the best of the Mediterranean’s flowering shrubs and trees. The Roman Theatre is fascinating, discovered in 1987 and restored by 2003. The original theatre was constructed in around the 5th Century BC, lost to commercialisation and finally burned in the 16th Century. A museum opened there in 2008, cleverly constructed beneath a palace and opening into the theatre. If you have time it is also worth a look. Don’t miss the chance to finish your day out by hire car in Murcia with a visit to the Civil War Refuge Centre. Sheltering From the Bombs Cartagena was bombed constantly and without mercy during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 – 1939. The centre has been put together in a sympathetic yet informative way and gives the visitor an idea of how the town’s residents managed to shelter from the bombs – an incredible 5,500 or so people were housed in the hillside excavations near Calle Gisbert, hiding from Franco’s and Hitler’s relentless bombardments. The tour of the centre makes interesting points such as the problems of provisioning, rationing and defence, how children survived and there are also some pictures taken from the Spanish archives. How to Find It A little south of Murcia, Cartagena takes around 35 minutes to get to along the A-30, or from the Drivalia Car Rental depot at Alicante Airport around 75 minutes. There are plenty of open air and also underground car parks at reasonable cost to park your car hire vehicle. Before setting off for Cartagena on your day out in Murcia take the precaution of contacting the local tourist office to make sure the Castle and elevator are open for business: www.cartagenaturismo.es