Every year the Mediterranean city of Cartagena, in the south-east of Spain, takes upon itself to reenact the historical events of the Second Punic War between Hannibal the Carthaginian and Scipio Africanus resulting in one of the most peculiar regional festivities countrywide. You will be able to experience such a rollercoaster from the inside, but a few preliminary explanations are mandatory.
Years ago, Spain Inside was the pioneer who dared offering experiential tourism by immersing clients in some of the most spectacular Spanish festivities. To this day such experiences are still front and center in our business given that, according to those who have tried the immersion, there is no closer contact an outsider can have with the locals than an authentic -and funny- sharing of their most awaited moment year-round: their regional festivities.
Mastery of the local language is not needed (because 24/7 access to your host eases the integration process everywhere), and knowing the details about how the events are conducted is not a must either (given that the locals are always eager to tell you all those secrets when need be). And do not even worry about attires: the dressing and hairdressing team at your disposal will do that for you. Just bring your will to break with traditional tourism, your zeal to experience what lies out of the ordinary
Which festivity fits you best to start the immersion? Let us introduce you to the “Carthaginians and Romans” festivity in three acts: surely that will help in your decision.
Dress with the festivity costumes
Feel the action of the Roman Circus
Take part in the parades and events
Enjoy the theater performances
The essence of the festivity.
As soon as festivities take off the town of Cartagena takes it upon itself to reenact the historical events which started around 227 BC, when Hasdrubal the Fair erected the Qart Hadasht fort which was to become the city of Cartagena. The reenactment goes up to 209 BC and the battle that led Romans legions, commanded by the General Publius Cornelius Scipio, to take the city.
During this festivity battles are fought again to the awe of the spectators alongside with staged military disembarkations, parades and celebrations worthy of the best film productions. There is, to boot, a splendid atmosphere in the “battle-camp” where locals, dressed as troopers and legionaries, gather for the mirth.
This one-of-a-kind festivity will take you to a past epoch, allowing you to side with one of the competing armies and reenact history right on the spot where it first happened.
Do you want to find out which are the three unmissable events?
The wedding of Hannibal and Himilce
There is not just battles in the reenactments of Carthaginians and Romans: a big part of the historical recreation is the multitudinous theater pieces where the heroes of the past come again to life.
The wedding of Hannibal and Himilce is certainly one of the most startling events of the festivities. With the peerless Port of Cartagena as a background the betrothal between the Carthaginian general Hannibal and the Iberian princess Himilce is reenacted. With this strategic maneuver the young Hannibal Barca obtained the trust of the Iberian people.
After the wedding, and back into the camp, the nuptial banquet takes off. We will also have the chance to unite in matrimony according to the Punic rites and traditions.
Landing of the Carthaginian Fleet and Hannibal’s march towards Rome
This event depicts the hiring of mercenaries for the Carthaginian army that General Hannibal completed before going to fight in Roman territory. Here the story is retold of the tribute that the general offered to the troops so as to coax them into fighting the powerful enemy.
The tribute is followed by a military march reliving the moment Hannibal took off with his army towards Rome. Amid this huge spectacle and flaunting of Carthaginian power we too will march throughout the city donning appropriate garments and surrounded by much more than paraders heading to the encampment, for there is music, beating of the drums, floats, war machinery…
A commemoration of the army of one hundred soldiers, with its cavalry and a considerable numbers of elephants who long ago set course to the Roman capital.
Battle of Qart Hadasht
Preceded by the disembarkment of Roman legions and their customary harangue the Great Battle for Qart Hadasht is the apex of the festivities. The battling between the Carthaginian and Roman armies is reenacted here until its famous ending in 209 AD, the year in which Cornelius Scipio finally seized the city.
All military personnel of both sides takes part in this event. The strategy is laid out and the stages of the battle played once again for everyone to see the great clash to rule over one of the most important enclaves encircling the Mare Nostrum. Are you up for a battle? Get ready for a film-like reenactment of the struggle between the two veering powers. History has it that Cornelius Scipio finally takes the city, but before such point is reached we will thrive with combat action and sly strategy brought by soldiers -wearing vintage armor and wielding varied weapons- in a setting that certainly reminds us of that which happened 2000 years ago.