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  • Conception Castle
    The Medieval Cartagena room
  • Conception Castle
    Panoramic view from the keep
  • Conception Castle
    Armor

Conception Castle  Conception Castle

The Conception Castle is the best starting point to discover the city and acquire an overview of its 3,000 years of history: the Punic Carthage was founded toward the year 229 BC by the general Hasdrubal; the natural riches that years later attracted the Romans, making it one of the most important colonies of Hispania; the decision by the Arabs and the conquest by Castille for the king Alfonso X in 1245; the military splendour of the 18th century to become the Maritime Department of the Mediterranean; and the 19th century, when Cartagena began to relive one of its times of great splendour thanks to the industrialization and the important traffic of its port.

The point to start your journey through history is the Conception Castle. Located on the hill of the same name, it has served as the enclave to a Roman temple dedicated to Asclepius, a Muslim fortress, a medieval castle or the place where the siren was installed that warned the population of the bombing during the Civil War. Also, from the fortress, one can obtain the best panoramic views of the city and its natural port. Everything within reach thanks to the panoramic lift that saves walking up the hill.

General ticket: 3’75€
General ticket Concepción Castle + Panoramic Lift: 4’25€

Reduced ticket: 2’75€
Reduced ticket Concepción Castle + Panoramic Lift: 3’25€
*Purchase on-line, Minors under the age of 12 years, Students up to 25 years, Youth and Youth +, Unemployed, Pensioners, Disabled persons, Family (2 or more adults + 2 or more children under the age of 12 years), Large family and groups of more than 20 people. 

Free entrance: 

  • Children under the age of 3 years.
  • Official tourist guides.
  • Members of the Club Cartagena Puerto de Culturas (except for activities).
*In order to benefit from the free entry rate, visitors must show current valid documents.

  ON-LINE PURCHASE

Estimated duration: 1 hour

Schedule of guided visits:

  • High Season
          11:00, 12:00, 17:30 and 18:30
 
  • Mid Season 
          11:00, 12:30 and 17:30
 
  • Low Season 
          12:00 and 16:00

*Guided hours are subject to change. Consult at the destination.

  Rules for Guided Tours (PDF - 422,33 KB)

'Isabella the Catholic'. Temporary exhibition

An exhibition around the figure of Queen Isabella and her time through the best costumes used in the series of Spanish Television. Mythical costumes as her coronation or her gorgeous dress he used in his marriage to Ferdinand II of Aragon. With costumes, weapons, facsimiles, maritime inventions and coins minted by the monarchs they will be presented.

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'Cartagena, taste three cultures'. Guided tour with gastronomy

Guided tour through the Islamic city and its suburbs, where Jewish, Christian and Muslim population were concentrated. Includes a gastronomic tasting.

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'The adventure of Columbus'. Dramatized route

An adventure tour guided by Columbus where the navigator awaits us at the castle to begin a journey that will discover new worlds. This fun family route ends with a boat trip around the bay of Cartagena.

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Medieval dinner with theatre show

Renaissance dinner inspired by flavors in the Concepción Castle where the port and the city lights surround a theatre show that will travel past us a unique experience.

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'I, the Queen'. Dramatized visit

Queen Elizabeth I take us to the court of Castile to know how exciting was her reign. Came to the throne, her marriage to Ferdinand II or the reconquest of Granada will be the big issues that the queen will tell us in person. In addition, we will know her innermost side, motherhood, her taste for fashion or hobbies.

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Peace building

By learning about the consequences of war, we aim to teach students to value and work towards world peace through artistic activities like drawing.

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Discover Qart Hadast

We journey back to the early days of Cartagena to find out who Hasdrubal, Hannibal and Scipio the African were and what the city was like during the Punic era

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A journey to the Middle Ages

A journey to the Middle Ages that will bring us inside castles, medieval society and its customs, for example dances. We'll show the kids a few steps. In collaboration with CPR of Cartagena.

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Attack

Learn about the evolution of the fortresses of Cartagena and what weapons were used by the armies that defended the city throughout its history. Carried out in collaboration with the CPR of Cartagena.

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Check to the King

Through a giant chess, the students will know the different strata of medieval society. They must go through the fortress to find the pieces, to complete the board and learn some movements of this millennial game and get to give 'Check to the King'. 

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Accessibility

Tourism for all is one of the primary objectives of the Cartagena Puerto de Culturas. We are working to ensure access to the largest number of visitors. At present, the Concepción Castle offers to its visitors with special needs the following facilities:

  • All the architectural barriers have been removed using lifts, ramps and stair lift. 
  • Special toilets.
  • Audio-visuals with sub-titles (English) and voice off (Spanish) for people with hearing and visual disabilities.
  • Reduced rate to those with disabilities, presenting official proof at the box office.
  • Guide dog access allowed with the corresponding accreditation.
Audio guides

Enjoy your visit with the audio-guide provided by the Concepción Castle. Thanks to the new technologies your visit will be in your own time, free and comfortable. The audio guide is available in 5 languages: Spanish, English, German, French and Russian. Its price is 2'50€.

Vending machines

In the Concepción Castle there are machines where you can buy fresh drinks and snacks.

Historical context  

In 713, the Covenant of Teodomiro was signed between the Visigoth potentate Teodomiro (Tudmir in Arabic) and Abd al-Aziz which discussed the incorporation of the south-east peninsula to the authority of Damascus. Not much is known of these first years of Islamic occupation due to the lack of documents and archaeological remains, it would possibly have been a nucleus of population, as well as with the Roman ruins reused in some cases such as housing. In the 10th century, the port of Cartagena begins to be mentioned in the Arab sources as one of the ports included in their trade routes. The XII-XIII centuries reported Cartagena having been developed as Islamic city nestled on the Conception hill and composed by the citadel located at the top and several walled suburbs.

Before the advance and pressure of the Christian troops, the last Arab king of Murcia agreed to surrender to the King of Castille, Ferdinand III, with the signing of the Treaty of Alcaraz. Cartagena and other cities rejected the terms of the capitulation and kept resisting until in 1245 Prince Alfonso, the future Alfonso X surrounded the city and took it by sea and by land. Once the city had been incorporated under the Crown of Castile, both Ferdinand III and Alfonso X granted privileges in an attempt to encourage the re population and enhance the commercial activity of the port. These same objectives explain the restoration of the episcopal seat and the creation of the Military Order of Santa Maria of Spain in Cartagena. The problem of succession between Alfonso X and Sancho IV was felt in Cartagena, with the extinction of the Order of Santa Maria after various naval defeats and the transfer of the bishopric to Murcia alleging the insecurity that existed in the city resulting from the Muslim piracy.

Concepción Castle 

The Concepción Castle, strategic point of the city and its port, traces its origins back to the Middle Ages. In the Muslim era the fortress was built on the top of the hill. It was a defensive enclosure formed by a courtyard of surrounded by walls and turrets, which date from the 12th or 13th century. Located to the west is the official or military area next to the Alcazar which together formed the Alcazaba, on the hillsides was the walled suburbs of Qartayannat -Halfa, the name of Cartagena in the Islamic period. There are still traces of the towers, possibly Almohads, built of mud and reused in later constructions. 

In the last quarter of the 13th century, when the city belonged to the crown of Castile, King Alfonso X the Wise ordered the building of the Tower of Homage a form of Keep, in the interior courtyard of the old Alcázar, reusing the Islamic Complex as well as materials, pilasters, columns and inscriptions, from the Roman ruins. The Norman type fortification had a dual purpose: on the one hand it was the strategic point since it dominated the land and the sea front, and on the other hand, to reaffirm the power of the Monarch on the territorial and political environment which could be seen from any point. 

To access the tower there is the spiral staircase that leads up to the terrace and the main rooms organized around a large central pillar, which at the time was intended to support the ribbed vaults. In the corbels of these vaults there is highlighted an interesting iconographic program allusive to the power of the Monarch: the eagle, the fleur-de-lis or the possible face of Emperor Charlemagne. In the lower part are the cisterns of the castle for the storage of rain water. The Tower of Homage of Cartagena is very similar to the towers at Lorca, Aledo or Moratalla; however, these are higher, which leads to the hypothesis that the construction of Cartagena was not completed.

At the end of the 17th century and beginning of the 18th century, the Castle of the Conception was extended with addition of space for the garrison, which explains the finding of a kitchen. In the 18th century, with the re fortification of Cartagena, the demolition of the old medieval fortress was planned due to the expansion of the number of city dwellers. However, it was not until the last third of the 19th century, when they began the demolition work. First the elevations of the Tower of Homage and a few years later, the perimeter walls and the vaults, which allowed once again, the the view, of the remains of the watchtower.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, under the government of Mayor Alfonso Torres and the direction of the architect Víctor Beltrí, the transformation of the castle and its surroundings as a public park was started. Soon after, in 1931, the fortress was declared a historic-artistic monument. 

Exploitation 

With centuries of abandonment behind it, the castle would have to wait until the end of the 1970s of the twentieth century, until the architect Pedro San Martin conceived a project for the rehabilitation of the Tower of Homage. The works began but the lack of budget left the castle without its original Gothic style vaulted roofs. Years later conducted some archaeological investigations were made that focused mainly on the accesses to the fortress.

The definitive recovery of the fortress occurred in 2002 when the Cartagena Puerto de Culturas adapted as a Centre for the Interpretation of the History of Cartagena. On this occasion they made use of the Tower of Homage and the ancient cisterns. The archaeological works that were made during these works uncovered various rooms, which had until then been buried, which were upgraded and open to the public in 2009 thus broadening the attraction of the castle. The historical research and archaeological supervision were carried out under David Munuera and José Antonio Martínez. There were two architectural investigations carried out by José Manuel Chacon and Alberto Ibero. 

The tour of the museums:

  • Centre for the Interpretation of the History of Catagena. Tower of Homage. It is an approximation to the civilizations that have left their mark in the city since its foundation in 229BC. until the present day. Mini theatres and interactive audiovisual shows, allow us to understand the historical evolution of Cartagena.
  • Conception Castle. Cisterns. The ancient cisterns of the castle are immersed in the history and evolution of the medieval fortress from the 13th century until the 20th century.
  • Medieval Cartagena. Rooms dating from the 17th century. With the exhibits and other teaching aids, life in the Middle Ages in the city are shown, explaining the Muslim domination and the later Christian conquest, the Order of Santa Maria de España or the re-establishment of the Bishopric.

Bibliography 
 
  • Frey Sánchez, A.V. (2003). “Cartagena en el marco de la conquista del Sarq al-Andalus”. Mastia 2, pags. 251-260.
  • Guillermo Martínez, M. (2014). Cartagena Medieval. Cuadernos monográficos Museo del Teatro Romano.
  • Munuera Navarro, D. (2010). Musulmanes y cristianos en el Mediterráneo. La costa del sureste peninsular durante la Edad Media (ss. VIII-XVI). Tesis doctoral.
  • Munuera Navarro, D. (2006). “Tras las huellas medievales de Cartagena”. Cuaderno monográfico, 21. Cartagena Histórica
  • Munuera Navarro, D. (2004). “En esta poblaçion alta, donde va encorporada la yglesia, va vn muro. Fortificación y edificios fortificados bajomedievales en Cartagena”. Revista ArqueoMurcia.



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