Guide to Portman Bay located to the east of Cartagena, in the region of Murcia, Spain.
Portman Bay - Costa Calida - Spain
Taking a trip along the coastal strip of the Sierra Minera towards Portman gives the visitor a fascinating glimpse into a region steeped in more than 2,000 years of the mining industry in Spain.
The landscape is harsh, the hillsides ravaged. Huge mountains of spoil present a view of an area that was almost stripped bare of its natural resources. Lead, silver, tin, quartz, iron and many other minerals were mined around Portman, and the hills bear the scars of their removal. Green, ochre, slate grey, orange brown; a subdued kaleidoscope of colours from the ores that bore the precious metals.
Here and there are abandoned dwellings, pitheads, shafts, and ventilation chimneys, all combining to present a picture of industrial beauty gone to seed. Any would be photographer will find many suitable subjects here.
Portman itself is almost a backwater these days. Named ‘Portus Magnus’ (Great Harbour) by the Romans, the bay is no longer great. Countless thousands of tons of spoil from mines having been dumped there over the last 2,000 years. However, the town retains some places of interest to the visitor, foremost being the Ancient Charity Hospital built in 1892 and now considered a listed building. It was originally constructed in a squared ground plan, its purpose was to treat and house the injured and sick miners of the Sierra Minera.
The village also boasts an Archeological Museum which houses probably the greatest and best preserved example of Roman Mosaics. Part of a pavement found in a Roman villa in Portman, it depicts a central motif of a peacock and a female face. Made from Opus Tesellatum, it is a magnificent example of this form of ancient artwork dating back to the 1st-2nd Century. Also worth a visit is the house known as ‘Tio Lobo’ built in 1913 in the traditional style of the Sierra Minera, for a rich local businessman named Miguel Zapatas.
The ‘La Chapa’ coastal battery emplacement is situated near the lighthouse in Portman, and like many other batteries along this stretch of coast, it played an important role during the Spanish Civil War, indeed it was only dismantled from active use in 1994.
A visit to this area will give you just a taste of 2,000 years of industrial and ancient history of this part of Murcia.
Portman is 4km south from La Union and 15km from Cartagena. It is a 10 minute drive to La Manga’s golf courses.
Article provided by kind permission of The Leader Newspaper