Cartagena History

Brief guide to the history of Cartagena, a city in the Murcia region of Spain.

The History of Cartagena Spain

Cartagena History - It is known from the ancient writings of the Roman historian Rufo Festo Avieno (4th century BC), that the original city of Cartagena was founded by the Carthaginian general Asdrubal in around 227BC. Formerly known as Mastia the name of the city was changed to Quart Hadast by Asdrubal and it remained under Carthaginian control until conquered by the Romans during the Second Punic War in 209BC, led by the Roman general Cornelio Escipion.

Under Roman control Cartagena became an important city and enjoyed many years of wealth and prosperity. Its significant strategic position, deepwater harbour and its rich mineral deposits all contributed to its rise. Surrounded by hills and with a large lake to the north of the city (El Amarjal), Carthago Novo (New Carthage), as it was called by the Romans, was easily defended and controlled.

The demise and fall of the Roman Empire caused the city to go into decline and it was occupied first by the Vandals and then by the Visigoths who held control until 555AD when Justinian and his Byzantine forces conquered the city and made it the capital of Spania (a province which extended as far south as Malaga), re-conquered by the Visigoths in about 621AD, Cartagena stayed under Visigothic control until the Muslim Conquest in 734AD.

Re-conquered for the Christians by Alfonso X (Alfonso the Wise) in 1245 it was annexed to Castile. Cartagena and Spain in general then entered a period of great decadence and decay, despite a short economic revival in the 16th century, Cartagena did not fully recover until the 18th century when it became a leading naval port.

In 1728 Cartagena became the capital of the Mediterranean Maritime Department and the city was heavily fortified with the construction of the castle (originally built by the Moors), barracks and an arsenal. In a relatively short period of time the population of the city grew from around 10,000 to 50,000.

Cartagena enjoyed further economic growth during the 19th century when the mining industry in the area enjoyed an upsurge resulting in increased industrial activity. The mineral deposits around Cartagena were some of the richest in the Mediterranean region, producing large amounts of copper, tin, iron, silver,. lead, zinc and red ochre.

After the destruction resulting from the Cantonal Revolution in 1873, Cartagena was largely re-built and began to take on its current appearance.

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) Caragena was one of the primary strongholds of the Republican Government and held out against the forces of General Franco longer than any other city in Spain - being the last of its cities to surrender.

Increased industrial activity during the 1950's resulted in more prosperity for the city of Cartagena, and this continued until a general decline in manufacturing throughout Europe in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

In recent years the modern industry of tourism has become increasingly important for Cartagena, and its rich and unique history, coupled with its many archaeological monuments, see it entering the 21st century with renewed enthusiasm and vigour.

Cartagena is located in the province of Murcia on the Costa Calida coastline of south-eastern Spain.

Cartagena Links: Cartagena Guide - Cartagena Map - Cartagena Weather - Cartagena Port - Cartagena Museums - Augusteum - Punic Ramparts - Cartagena Article - Municipal Archaeological Museum

Places to Visit: Aguilas - Totana - Lorca - Fortuna

Golf Courses: Roda Golf Resort - Mar Menor Golf Resort - Spain Golf Courses

Related: Murcia - Cartagena - Los Alcazares - Mar Menor - San Javier - La Manga - Mazarron - Murcia Airport Transfers - Builders