Most years for many years, my family and I have holidayed at La Manga Club, in the Murcia region in south-eastern Spain. Situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the Mar Menor, which with a surface area of nearly 170 km² is described as Spain’s largest salt-water lagoon, the resort is within the Calblanque, Monte de las Cenizas y Peña del Águila National Park, a protected area featuring beaches, coves, sand dunes, salt flats, cliffs, and mountains.
The resort itself focuses on golf – hosting several celebrity tournaments and the occasional international pro-am event – and tennis, while also serving as a training camp for assorted football clubs, and offering cricket, triathlon, and affiliated water sports. There is hotel accommodation, a variety of apartments and villas; swimming pools and spas; restaurants, bars, pubs, and so on.
The nearest city is Cartagena, by the Mediterranean coast. Cartagena has a rich history: founded by the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal the Fair in 228 BBC, it was conquered by the Roman statesman Scipio Africanus in 209 BC and became known as Carthago Nova, the ‘New Carthage’. The city was given Latin Rights by Julius Caesar; renamed by Octavian; and made the centre of a province by Diocletian in 298 AD, before the decline of the Western Roman Empire saw it occupied successively, early in the fifth century AD, by the Vandals and Visigoths. Following the eighth century Muslim conquest of Hispania, Cartagena was ruled by the Umayyads, then several Moroccan Berber dynasties until, around 1245 AD, the region was claimed by Alfonso X of Castile.
The main base of the Spanish Republican Navy during the Spanish Civil War, today Cartagena remains an important naval seaport, with a thriving cultural centre. A site of Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine, and Moorish remains, and with a flurry of Art Nouveau architecture, most prominent among Cartagena’s attractions is the restored Roman Theatre. This was uncovered after excavation work in 1990, with restoration of the theatre completed between 1994 and 2003. A museum was opened in 2008, and a park now connects the theatre with the medieval Castillo de la Concepcíon.
Above are thirteen pictures centring upon Cartagena. Beginning with shots of the carpark at Murcia-San Javier airport, a villa balcony in orange, and the hills and trees of La Unión, we then traverse Cartagena’s streets and city hall, and gaze down its palm-lined waterfront, before climbing to the Roman Theatre, park, and castle.