Let bat­tle com­mence

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - Front Page - By Nuria Pérez nperez@cb­news.es

The spec­tac­u­lar Carthagini­ans and Ro­mans fi­es­tas get un­der­way in Carta­gena to­day (Fri­day).

THE IM­PRES­SIVE Carthaginian and Ro­man fi­es­tas have started to­day (Fri­day Septem­ber 15) in Carta­gena.

The fes­ti­val pays trib­ute to the rich an­cient his­tory of the city and res­i­dents re-en­act key events from when it was un­der the rule of the Pu­nic com­man­ders Has­drubal and Han­ni­bal, and the Ro­man com­man­der Sci­pio. For 10 days hundreds of res­i­dents put on beau­ti­fully made cos­tumes and be­come ei­ther Carthaginian or Ro­man sol­diers, war­riors, mer­ce­nar­ies, com­man­ders, cit­i­zens, or­a­cles, Ama­zons and other char­ac­ters.

Carta­gena was founded in 227 BC by the Pu­nic com­man­der Has­drubal, who named it QartHadast. The city was sur­rounded by five hills and pro­tected by a huge de­fen­sive wall. It be­came the most im­por­tant Carthaginian city in Ibe­ria.

Has­drubal was killed in 221 BC and his nephew Han­ni­bal was ap­pointed the new com­man­der. The city was then pro­vided with a de­fen­sive tower sys­tem and started ex­ploit­ing mines at La Unión, which turned Qart-Hadast the cap­i­tal of the Carthaginian em­pire abroad.

How­ever the frag­ile truce be­tween the Carthagini­ans and Ro­mans was bro­ken when Han­ni­bal at­tacked Rome’s Sa­gunto in the Va­len­cia re­gion. In the en­su­ing con­flict, the cun­ning Ro­man com­man­der Sci­pio at­tacked Qart-Hadast in 209 BC which had been left un­pro­tected as the Carthaginian troops were on their way to Rome. Sci­pio ar­rived from the sea and af­ter a mar­itime bat­tle his troops quickly con­quered the city. The Carthaginian pres­ence had only lasted for 18 years, but some re­mains such as the Pu­nic wall have sur­vived.

The Ro­mans re­named the city Carthago Nova (new Carthage) and turned it into one of the most im­por­tant and mod­ern cities on Spain’s Mediter­ranean coast. The Ro­mans stayed un­til the 5th cen­tury AD and their bril­liant ar­chi­tects and en­gi­neers turned Qart-Hadast into a proper Ro­man city. They took ad­van­tage of the slopes of one of the hills to build the im­pres­sive theatre and also built an am­phithe­atre, ther­mal baths and tem­ples, im­proved the har­bour and changed the lay­out of the city. Carta­gena was an im­por­tant city for the Ro­mans, as it pro­vided the Em­pire with me­tals from the nearby mines at La Unión, olive oil, wine and its much-loved garum fish sauce.

The city con­tains in­cred­i­bly well-pre­served Ro­man mon­u­ments and fa­cil­i­ties which are open to vis­i­tors and have be­come the prin­ci­pal tourist at­trac­tion. The re­mains of the im­pres­sive Ro­man theatre, the Ro­man fo­rum district – which in­cludes the ther­mal baths, a ban­quet hall and the tem­ple of the god­dess Isis - the For­tuna villa, the De­cumano street and the Pu­nic wall are all lo­cated in the his­toric city cen­tre and are all worth a visit. More­over spe­cial guided tours and ac­tiv­i­ties at the mon­u­ments are or­gan­ised dur­ing the Carthaginian and Ro­man fi­es­tas.

The dis­cov­ery of the Carthaginian and Ro­man re­mains has com­pletely changed Carta­gena and helped the city to over­come a dif­fi­cult fi­nan­cial cri­sis and be­come an im­por­tant tourist and cul­tural des­ti­na­tion.

For the full pro­gramme of the Carthaginian and Ro­man fi­es­tas go to page 37.

The Ro­man en­gi­neers took ad­van­tage of the slopes of one of the hills to build the im­pres­sive theatre

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