The Civil War Shelters Museum is a space for the memory and learning about the recent history of Cartagena, which was a strategic point and primary objective of the bombing of the civil war. Going through some of its galleries and listening to the testimonies of those who took part, it is possible to discover the changes that the struggle brought to their lives and how the passive and active defence of the city was organized. The audio-visual with real images and sounds of the time makes you feel in the first person the dimension and the harshness of the war from inside one of the refuges.
High season (1 July to 15 September)
From Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00
Mid season (from 15 March to 30 June / 16 September to 1 November)
From Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 19:00 (Holy Week from Monday to Sunday)
Low season (from 2 November to 14 March)
From Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:30
The Civil War Shelters Museum is closed on the days:
- On January 1 and 6 and December 25.
- January 5, December 24 and 31 only in the afternoon.
**Groups with prior reservation will be given preference at the entrance.
General ticket: 3’5€
Reduced ticket: 2’5€
*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.
- Children under the age of 3 years.
- Official tourist guides.
- Members of the Club Cartagena Puerto de Culturas (except for activities).
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 Civil War Shelters Museum offers to its visitors with special needs the following facilities:
- All the architectural barriers have been removed using lift.
- Special toilets.
- Audio-visuals for people with hearing disabilities.
- Reduced rate to those with disabilities, presenting official proof at the box office.
- Guide dog access allowed with the corresponding accreditation.
Enjoy your visit with the audio-guide provided by the Civil War Shelters Museum. Thanks to the new technologies your visit will be in your own time, free and comfortable. The audio guide is available in 3 languages: Spanish, English and Russian. Its price is 2'50€.
In the Civil War Shelters Museum there are machines where you can buy fresh drinks, coffee and snacks.
After the fall of the monarchy and the regime of Primo de Rivera, on April 14, 1931 the Second Republic was proclaimed, leaving King Alfonso XIII to exile from Cartagena. During the next five years, governments of both the right and the left succeeded each other as a breeding ground for political and social confrontations that finally led to civil war. The triumph of the Popular Front in the elections of February 1936 was the trigger. Francisco Franco led the military uprising on July 17, an attempted coup against the government of the Republic that led to a civil war that lasted almost three years. The uprising failed in Cartagena remaining on the Republican side throughout the war, as it was one of the last cities into which the national troops entered. On March 31, the Fourth Navarre Division entered the city ending the war on April 1, 1939.
The city was one of the operational bases of the Republicans playing a decisive military role for various reasons: from there war material made in the city was distributed in the city itself which was to be an important war production centre, it was also the place through which the aid came from Russia, a country allied with the republican side, distributing from Cartagena to the front and it was also the base of the republican fleet and was among the objectives of the National or military rebels being bombarded by German-Italian aircraft throughout the conflict. The air attacks, which began in October 1936, became more and more frequent, with the construction of shelters being one of the fundamental concerns of Cartagena. During the race there were hard episodes like the devastating bombing of the 4 hours of November 25, 1936 or the sinking of the ship Castillo Olite.
The Passive Defence Board, the trade unions and the neighbourhood groups pushed since 1936 for the construction of shelters for the protection of the civilian population. The anti-aircraft shelters on Gisbert Street were some of the largest in the city but they were not the only ones built in Cartagena, there was a whole network of galleries in the centre, neighbourhoods and rural areas.
Shelters of the Gisbert Street
The Refuges of Gisbert Street began to be built under the Concepción hill in the middle of the war, in 1937. It was one of the few refuges that received the economic support of the central Government since the City Council, which began to finance the construction of refuges, did not have the necessary economic capacity.
It was one of the largest in the city being able to house some 5,500 people. It had 20 access points and a First Aid room. They were not completed as attested by the unfinished galleries that can be seen during the visit. There is only a part of the original galleries of the refuge open to the public.
Various aspects of the civil war are shown along the exhibition route. One gallery explains the reasons why the city became the target of national aviation, how was the construction of shelters and the changes that the life of the Cartagena experienced with the outbreak of the war: the serious problems of supply, the attempts to continue with education despite the constant bombings or the few leisure opportunities that the population had.
In the second gallery, the need to protect the city against the bombardments is exposed, both passively and actively. The Passive Defence Board was created to manage and organize the construction of shelters and disseminate information boards and pamphlets, where a series of instructions were given so that people could react to the attacks. For active defence, that is, the military response to air strikes, the Special Defence Against Aircraft (DECA) was established in charge of antiaircraft artillery and lighting, alarm, communications and aerial observation systems.
The visit continues with the mention of the bombings that Cartagena underwent with the one carried out by the German Condor Legion on November 25, 1936 as being one of the most serious and remembered as the "bombing of the four hours". The tour ends with a video that shows original images of the war extracted from different archives that perfectly illustrate the harshness of the war.
The recovery of the Castillo de la Concepción, located on the top of the hill of the same name, entailed another intervention, facilitating its accessibility by means of an elevator on Gisbert Street. In 2001 work began and large anti-aircraft shelters built during the civil war and had been left unfinished were reopened. The initial project, together with the construction of the Panoramic Lift, included the recovery and enhancement of the galleries, as well as the construction of an annex building that would serve as access to the shelters and administrative building for the Cartagena Port of Cultures consortium. The architectural works were carried out by Andrés Cánovas, Nicolás Maruri, Martín Lejárraga and Atxu Amánn.
The museum tour:
- Styles of shelters and their construction. In this space the forms, materials and typologies of the various shelters used to protect the civilian population are made known.
- Life in the Civil War. Through photographs, panels, testimonies, and recreations the changes are explained that were experienced in the life of Cartagena with the outbreak of war.
- Passive defence. Advertising posters, information panels and objects used in the war, show the forms of defence that the civilian population had to assume.
- Active defence. The "Special Defence Against Aircraft" (DECA) was responsible for antiaircraft artillery and lighting systems, warning, alarm, listening, communications and observation.
- Cartagena under the bombs. Real images offer a glimpse of the devastation suffered by Cartagena due to the bombings.
- García Tous, F.J. y Puchol Franco, M.S., (2003). “Bombardeos aéreos sobre Cartagena 1936. El bombardeo de las 4 horas”. Revista Cartagena Histórica, 3, págs. 5-19.
- Perez Adán, L.M., (2004). El hundimiento del Castillo Olite.
- Besolí Martín, A. y Peinado Cucarella, J., (2008). “El estudio y puesta en valor de los refugios antiaéreos de la guerra civil española: el caso del refugio y museo de Cartagena”. Revista Arqueomurcia, 3.
- Rubio Paredes, J.M., (2009). “Los refugios de la guerra civil en Cartagena. Algunos planos inéditos”. Revista Cartagena Histórica, 27, págs. 16-27.
- Egea Bruno, P.M., (2009). “Cartagena, propaganda y guerra civil”. Revista Cartagena Histórica, 30, págs. 4-34.
- VV.AA. (2012). Cartagena Puerto de Culturas. Convirtiendo el pasado en futuro.