The Roman Theatre Of Cartagena
Following its recent restoration, the Roman Theatre of Cartagena stands proud as an ode to the rich history of the cultural Spanish city.
Located in the Murcia Region of Spain, Cartagena is a major ancient city in the area. Founded sometime around 227 BC, the city is characterised by its luxuriant cuisine, captivating street art and both modernist and ancient architectural masterpieces.
The Roman Theatre of Cartagena is arguably the city’s most popular sightseeing spots for both visitors and Spanish locals. As well as being pleasing to the eye, this early BCE structure is much more than the sum of its parts.
The Roman Theatre of Cartagena represents a quintessential aspect of the city’s history, and the monument’s unlikely discovery makes these ruins all the more fascinating. Let’s explore the story of Cartagena’s Roman Theatre, from ancient history to its popular modern presence.
The History of the Roman Theatre of Cartagena
Cartagena is arguably one of the key cities that springs to mind when considering the Roman Hispania regions that spanned across Spain and Portugal. First invaded in 209 BC, the previous Carthigian city was renamed Carthago Nova, and became a Roman colony at the hands of Caesar Augustus in 44 BC.
The city’s colonisation led to big changes in terms of appearance and structure, and Caesar Augustus rebuilt the city from the ground up in an attempt to ‘romanise’ the region.
Reinventing Carthago Nova was an ambitious process that resulted in the construction of a series of ornate and authentically Roman buildings. Sometime around the years 1 - 5 BC, the Roman Theatre of Cartagena was built on Conception Hill, taking root on the sloping hillside.
Constructing the theatre was likely a lengthy process, due to the large seating capacity - between 6,000 and 7,000 spectators could fit in the cavea - and the ornate Greek marble sculptures that were discovered in the theatre's ruins.
Although the Roman theatre has existed for centuries, it was only established as a popular tourist attraction in recent years. Moving from a commercial district in the 6th century to a heavily populated neighbourhood in the 13th century, the Santa Maria la Vieja cathedral was eventually built atop of the area that is home to the Roman Theatre of Cartagena.
Buried for centuries, hints at the monument’s rediscovery first occurred by accident in 1988, when archaeologist Sebastián Ramallo Asensio began to excavate the area with the intent of constructing a craft centre.
Instead, however, Asensio found something of invaluable importance to the culture and history of Cartagena's people. Remains of the theatre were located, and the excavation was completed by 2003, leaving a newfound landmark that will remain for years to come.
Visiting the Roman Theatre of Cartagena Today
The Roman Theatre of Cartagena was officially restored in 2008 by Rafael Moneo. As well as returning the theatre to its rightful glory, Moneo also provided the addition of a museum that houses a range of ancient artefacts discovered at the site.
The museum also allows the visitor to familiarise themselves with Cartagena’s history, displaying a step-by-step guide to the city’s evolution, explaining the stages that led to the theatre’s burial and eventual rediscovery.
After browsing the museum’s many exhibitions and fascinating collections, you can freely peruse the theatre itself. Climb the stairs, admire the stage and get a real-life glimpse into the theatrical history of Cartagena.
Murcia: One of Spain’s Most Cultural Regions
The Roman Theatre of Cartagena is an undeniably unique and beautifully crafted example of historical architecture. It makes up just one of many popular landmarks and must-see spots in the Region of Murcia.
For anyone considering moving to or visiting Spain, the Murcia Region is the best place to gain a real insight into the authentic Spanish lifestyle and history.
For support and guidance throughout the process of finding a new home in Spain’s Murcia Region, get in touch with Mercers. Our professional and established team are here every step of the way.
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Camposol, Mazarrón, Murcia, Spain, 30875