Day 2,118 of Traveling the World | Cartagena, Spain | November 18, 2023

Our second visit to a city named Cartagena in a few months – this time in Spain, not Colombia. That other Cartagena, in Colombia, was bursting with life – colorful, busy, and old areas being revitalized. THIS Cartagena, in Spain, is more of a historic destination, and wasn’t as busy and colorful. Its Roman occupation has led to lots of excavations and archaeological sites. There are many historic houses and public squares, with Cartagena being known for its plethora of Art Nouveau buildings. We have been here several times previously, so we decided on a walking path and just aimless wandering through the heart of the city rather than visiting any major tourist destinations.

We targeted several famous houses that still exist, just to look at the external architecture, and found some other buildings that looked interesting. The day was sunny and warm, and the plazas and cafes were full, as there were three cruise ships in port. One place we stumbled across was a museum of a house whose inscription wished good luck to all who entered, hence: The House of Fortune. Uncovered in the year 2000, it shows the life of the wealthy family who lived here at the end of the 1st century BC. Some mosaics were found in a pile, and they were scrupulously pieced together, as much as possible. The swan tile, which we show, has become symbolic of the museum. Mike had the feeling that we had been inside on a previous visit, and he was correct – we found photos from about 10 years ago placing us inside the museum. But this visit was interesting, nonetheless.

Cartagena’s old city walls, built by Carlos III, are in great shape!
Unbelievably, this is the city Office of Tourism! Looking mighty grand…
Palacio Consistorial de Cartagena (Town Hall), a newly restored Neo-Classical building. Close up, there are bullet holes in the facade from the Spanish Civil War.
This is work dedicated to violence against women – specifically the murder of women by their partners. The first line says, “He’s not going to do anything to me.” It goes on to explain that it was said by a woman to her brother a few days prior to being murdered by her ex-partner, and that so far this year, 52 women in Spain have been murdered by their partner or ex-partner. Abuse is often not reported by women because they don’t think it is “serious enough.”
A glimpse of Calle Mayor, the main shopping and dining street running through the city, paved in blue marble. With large cruise ships in a port, we are often surrounded by tourists speaking English and other languages not endemic to the area, but here we heard mostly Spanish spoken, as this is where residents meet their friends, shop, and enjoy a day out.
The Gran Hotel de Cartagena.
The Casino de Cartagena.
Mosaic inlays in residences and retail stores like this were scattered around the city. This one reads: “Star of the Sea, help your children.”
Here is another mosaic inlay. The building to the left of the mosaic has pretty detail around the windows, like a curtain opening.
Another mosaic, just noting the name of the street: St. John Street.
This large, grand building appears to have been built as a hotel.
The Casa Maestre family mansion.
We have seen windmills like this one in various Spanish cities. It looks strange without the typical windmill blades, doesn’t it?
Casa Zapata, a beautiful old mansion, is today a school.
Walking along the street inside the House of Fortune museum, with a video representation of what it likely looked like.
The swan mosaic, the most complete and distinctive remnant found, today a symbol of the House of Fortune.
Spain does love their ham! It is sold everywhere in the country. Many convenience stores the size of a 7-11 will have a dedicated section containing a selection of hams and a meat cutting machine. We would never tell a Spaniard, but it just seems like lunch meat to us, acorn-fed or not. We guess you could say – pearls before swine.

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