Today Spain's major commercial port and naval base, Cartagena lies on the coast of Murcia, its great indented bay guarded by rocky promontories, each topped by a fort. The city contains the remains of old walls, a castle constructed probably in Carthaginian times, and a church that was formerly a 13th-century cathedral. Attractive promenades extend along the harbour, while to the northeast is the famous beach and watersports resort area of the lagoon-like Mar Menor.
Founded in 221 BC by Hasdrubal, leader of the Carthaginians (hence the name) from North Africa, it has a fascinating history - and as Nova Carthage, was long the Romans' principal settlement in their Iberian stronghold. Sacked by the Goths in AD 425, Cartagena was restored and improved by the Moors during their occupation of Spain. A possession of the kings of Aragón from 1269, it later became part of the kingdom of Spain.
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