It is strange to find an ancient city where there aren’t many discussions about its origins. And it is not that Cartagena has its legends about its foundation, which it does, but the theory in which General Asdrúbal has the leading role is usually the one accepted.
More than twenty-two centuries ago the Carthaginian general arrived here, he confirmed that the place had an excellent natural harbour and put his men to work. It was the year 227 BC, and the story of a city that was going to go through many ordeals thanks to its strategic location began.
Hannibal departed from here with his famous elephants when his people were having big troubles with the Romans. But that ended the way it ended, and the unavoidable Romans took over the town destroying everything and building a new city at full speed, as they used to do.
The so-called Cartagho Nova was a splendid Roman City, with its forum and its impressive theatre built, apparently, two or three years before Christ. Do not miss it because you will not find in Spain many as well preserved as this one.
But, as you know, Rome was not eternal. First, it got weaker, and then it collapsed rapidly, so it was the turn of other peoples. Cartagena became Byzantine for a time, then Visigoth and then Muslim, and none of those changes were made peacefully.
And the Christian Reconquest was still to come, which came in the mid-thirteenth century. With so many wars, so much disaster and so much confusion, it is sometimes complicated to know the when and how of some of the buildings of the city. This is the case of the cathedral, which probably began in the thirteenth century and went through a thousand ups and downs until it reached the twentieth century as it could. But then the Civil War started and left it in ruins.
In spite of everything, Cartagena has also had its good times. Like when Carlos III gave it a substantial boost turning it into a fundamental enclave for the Spanish fleet. The walls, castles and fortifications that have guarded the coast since those times give good faith to this.
And we finish by telling you that this is where Isaac Peral was born, inventor of the first military submarine in history. The gentleman fought to demonstrate that his creation worked and he achieved it in 1888, with a resounding success in the launching of the artefact. Another thing is that after dubious interests, which have never been clarified, they ignored him and rejected his invention. Oh, if Don Isaac could only see it today …