Cartagena, Lat. Carthago Nova, city (1990 pop. 175,966), Murcia prov., SE Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea. A major seaport and naval base, it has a fine natural harbor, protected by forts, with a naval arsenal and important shipbuilding and metallurgical industries. Lead, iron, and zinc are mined and processed nearby, but the rich silver mines exploited in ancient times by Carthaginians and Romans are now almost exhausted. The city is an episcopal see. It was founded by Hasdrubal c.225 B.C. and soon became a flourishing port, the chief Carthaginian base in Spain. Captured (209 B.C.) by Scipio Africanus Major, it continued to flourish under the Romans. The Moors, who took it in the 8th cent., later included it in Murcia. The Spaniards recovered it definitively in the 13th cent. Cartagena was sacked (1585) by Sir Francis Drake and figured later in the Peninsular and Carlist wars. It served as the Loyalist naval base during the civil war (1936–39). In the 20th cent. it has suffered from the competition of other Mediterranean ports (e.g., Barcelona, Málaga, and Valencia). The medieval Castillo de la Concepción, whose ruins are surrounded by fine gardens, commands a splendid view of the city and harbor. No traces of the ancient city remain.
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