La Manga

On first inspection of the area, ‘Hot (but not much) Heritage’ was to be the title of this column. Like in many other parts of Spain, characterless tower-blocks are springing up like weeds on a well-kept lawn, many soon to be snapped up by sunburnt Brits.

The Mar Menor, on the Costa Calida (warm coast), is the largest salt water lagoon in Europe and is separated from the Mediterranean by the strip at La Manga, a 22km long, yet extremely narrow, peninsular. The ‘strip’ is a great place for a relaxing holiday as both the Med and the Mar Menor are seconds away. So, what is there in the way of heritage? Well not much really though there are some buildings that should be preserved for millions of years as examples of how not to build. Our ancestors will be highly confused by the villas built like castles which are as tacky as some of the gifts for sale in the local markets – sun, sand and Sussex Heights-style buildings with fake battlements and turrets. Happily, it does improve.

A journey back to and past the beginning of the strip led to the small fishing village of Cabo de Palos with its rock pools and lively markets. The old and very tall lighthouse was the first decent structure that I came across. Relatively secluded, raised on a plinth and crafted from solid stone – my kind of building. The main road then leads on to La Manga Club, which is particularly famous for its three 18 hole golf courses. It was worth the trip just for the secluded private beach though the place is excellent generally, with some amazing new properties, but not much in the way of heritage. Further along the road, Cartagena, founded by the Carthagians in 221BC, is a different story entirely. The fort ruins on the tallest point in the town centre may be the best feature but there really are too many good bits to list. Cartagena is around the same size as Brighton yet has a deep natural sea port and interestingly was used by the Germans in World War II as a submarine base. Lobster-red Brits beware!

I and my friends, Nishad, Gemma and Kerry all had a great time relaxing on the beach and I’m sure that we could have tracked down lots more heritage had we been able to drag ourselves away!