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  • Christmas Fort
    Fort Christmas
  • Christmas Fort
    Miniature model of the fort
  • Christmas Fort
    Gun powder

Christmas Fort  Christmas Fort

By visiting the Christmas Fort you will learn in detail the defensive system of Cartagena throughout history. Enrol like a cabin boy on our Tourist Boat, and you will be able to enter the only coastal battery adapted to show military and everyday life in a 19th century fortress. Nestled in the right margin of the bay and next to the lighthouse of the same name, the Christmas Fort keeps witness of the political, social and military conflicts of the past centuries.

Examine the bunkers, learn how to handle a canon and discover the diet and the life of the gunners. Finish your visit enjoying the magnificent views from the terrace and relaxing on the return journey aboard the tourist boat.

General ticket: 3’50€
General ticket Christmas Fort + Tourist Boat: 8€

Reduced ticket: 2’50€
Reduced ticket Christmas Fort + Tourist Boat: 6€
*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: 45 minutes

Schedule guided visits:

  • High Season
           From Tuesday to Saturday - 11:15, 12:15, 13:15, 16:45 and 17:45 
           Sunday – 11:15, 12:15 and 13:15
 
  • Mid Season
           From Tuesday to Saturday - 11:15, 12:15, 13:15 and 14:15
           Sunday – 11:15, 12:15 and 13:15
 
  • Low Season 
           From Tuesday to Friday - 11:15 and 12:15 
           Saturday and Sunday – 11:15, 12:15, 13:15 and 14:15

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

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

There are no activities scheduled for this museum

Attack on Christmas Fort

We'll take the children around the bay of Cartagena in our tour boat to access the Christmas Fort. Here, by completing various tests, they'll learn the strategic and military importance of Cartagena. In collaboration with the 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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Accessibility

Tourism for all is one of the primary objectives of the Cartagena Port of Cultures. We are working to ensure access to the largest number of visitors. At present, the Christmas Fort offers to its visitors with special needs the following facilities:

  • All the architectural barriers have been removed using ramps, glass floors and balconies to allow all round vision of the architectural remains from the top floor.
  • Special toilets.
  • Audio-visual with sub-titles (English) and voice off (Spanish) for people with visual and hearing disabilities.
  • Audio-visual with voice off (Spanish and English) for people with visual disabilities.
  • Reduced rate to those with disabilities, presenting official proof at the box office.
  • Guide dog access allowed with the corresponding accreditation.
Vending machines

In the Christmas Fort there are machines where you can buy fresh drinks and snacks.

Historical context 

The great importance of Cartagena as military city started by the end of the 17th century when under the reign of Charles II it became the winter quarters of the galley ship squadron. The immediate result was the construction of four defences in the mouth of the port that ensured the protection of the ships: Podadera and Fuerte de Navidad.in the front right, and Trincabotijas and Santa Ana in the left front. 

The War of the Spanish Succession marked the conquest of the plaza by the English on behalf of the pretender to the Spanish throne, the Archduke Charles of Austria. The occupation lasted only five months when the Duke of Berwick recovered it for Felipe V. It was with this king that Cartagena became the Maritime Department of the Mediterranean (1726), assuming with this appointment the definitive consolidation of the city as a military base in the Mediterranean and a turning point in its history. This process materialized in the second half of the 18th century under King Carlos III with the construction of the great military works: Arsenal, Military Hospital, walls, the forts of Galeras, Atalayas, San Julián and Moros. 

In the 19th century, Spain was mired in many wars and battles, which were not outside the plaza de Cartagena, in particular with the Cantonal War (1873). There was a transformation of the port and its defences, especially due to the technological advances that led to a profound transformation of the fortification systems. The Plan O'Donnell (1860) was carried out within that context which is part of the renovation of the Fuerte de Navidad Fort of Christmas and other batteries of the city. 

Christmas Fort

The Fuerte de Navidad has its origin as being first constructed in the 17th century, comprising a small artillery platform with four pieces. Due to its position, its fire crossed with that of the battery of Santa Ana, along with the batteries of Trincabotijas and Podadera and so defended the entrance to the port. It would be in the 19th century when on the old battery a new building was constructed that improved the defensive fortification conditions. Technological progress soon left its war function as obsolete, which supposed that at the beginning of the 20th century, became the saluting battery of the port of Cartagena and it remained in operation until 1941 when the last garrison departed.

It was designed by Spanish military engineers in neoclassical and casemated style. The building, of angular shape with the curved vertex facing the sea, it is organized around a patio corridor that opened into the eight gun casemates, each of which contained an artillery piece. To protect them from the impact of the projectiles, a system known as bomb proof vaults was employed, that is to say, above the vaults earth and stones were piled, which were more than two metres thick. At the apex of the angle the powder store was situated, which contained the stores of explosives and the shells for the guns. The offensive power was completed with nine other pieces that were situated on the terrace which could be accessed through two spiral staircases. In the rear of the fort the dependencies were located, for use in the everyday life of the garrison of the fort with kitchens, latrines and barracks.

Exploitation 

The restoration of the Fuerte de Navidad was the first to have been undertaken on a part the Bay of Cartagena defence system. The fortress was left abandoned until in 2004 when the Ministry of Defence ceded it to Cartagena Town Hall for tourist uses on the condition that it should be restored. The recovery project began in 2004, based on a Master Plan for the entire bay, and was completed in 2007. Architects Francisco Javier Lopez and Ricardo Sanchez were commissioned to undertake the works.

During the restoration phase, an exhaustive search of documents was made to unearth the different historical phases. Research and archaeological work was conducted by José Antonio Martinez and David Munuera. 

All of these interventions, combined under the management of Cartagena Puerto de Culturas culminated with the opening to the public of the Fuerte de Navidad in 2007. 

The tour of the museums:

  • Casemate 1. Reception and souvenir shop. 
  • Casemate 2. The port of Cartagena. A large model allows one to understand the port and its defences in the 19th century.
  • Casemate 3. Defensive systems of the port of Cartagena. An approach to the batteries and forts of the city and its coast built over the centuries.
  • Casemate 5. Christmas Fort. An audio-visual takes us into the building and its history.
  • Casemate 6. The artillery. An original 19th-century canon gives the keys to the artillery at this time.
  • Casemate 7. History and architecture. Models and panels show the architecture of the fort with its various renovations.
  • Casemate 8. Everyday life. The recreation of the office of an officer, the artillery man’s uniform, original pieces found in the excavations and the original door closing, bring us closer to what were the day to day events in the fort.
  • Latrines. A good example of what were the sanitary and hygienic conditions in those days.
  • Kitchen. Small hearths and a warehouse for cooking and to save the little food belonging to the troop.Dormitories. Audio-visual Room and seasonal exhibitions. A video with aerial pictures of the coast showing the defensive system of the bay from the 16th to the 20th century. 

Bibliography 
 
  • Gómez Vizcaino, A. (2003). Castillos y fortalezas de Cartagena. Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Cartagena.
  • Martínez López, J.A. (2008). El fuerte de Navidad en el contexto del sistema defensivo del puerto de Cartagena. Tesis doctoral. Universidad de Murcia.
  • Martínez López, J.A. y Munuera Navarro, D. (2009). Álbum fotográfico de los fuertes y baterías del puerto de Cartagena (1901). 
  • Santaella Pascual, F. (2006). La Artillería en la Defensa de Cartagena y su Base Naval. Desde los orígenes al Plan Vickers de 1926. Editorial Áglaya.
  • VV.AA. (2004). Estudio y catalogación de las defensas de Cartagena y su bahía. Proyecto “Puertos antiguos del Mediterráneo”.
  • VV.AA. (2012). Cartagena Puerto de Culturas. Convirtiendo el pasado en futuro. 



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