From the 18th Century, a series of gun batteries were built around Cartagena Bay from Cabo Tiñoso to Cabo Negrete to defend the port from attack. Two of the most magnificent remnants, albeit from later times in the 20th Century, are to be found at opposite sides of the bay – at Cabo Tiñoso and near Portman.

The huge impressive guns at on the high cliff tops of Cabo Tinoso were installed in the early 1930’s by the British Company Vickers of Barrow and the military buildings are extensive and built in an ornate, attractive, castellated style. You can look inside a number of them, though some indicate that you should not do so. The highlights of the visit, however, are the guns, some of which are truly enormous

Build as part of the coastal defence system, the guns are capable of firing shells over 20 miles out to sea, but have actually never been fired in action.

The silhouettes of British, French and American naval vessels are still visible on one of the walls of the facility.

The gun site was abandoned in yhe esrly 1990’s and fell victims to grafetti, souvenir hunters and vandals. However efforts have been made to improve parking near to them, to create clear walkways around them, and, more generally, to clean up the environment in which they are situated. The guns themselves have been repainted and the graffiti banished.

Underneath the guns, there are the arsenals where the ammunition was stored, and there are still some hydraulic pumps and breech loading equipment

Access to the guns is via a narrow winding road from the E16 Isla Plana road out of Cartagena

At the other side of Cartagena Bay, near Portman, are two identical big guns at the Battery of Las Cenizas. Although this battery cannot compare for architectural interest and extravagance with that over the other side of the bay, the entrance to it is as ornate as at Cabo Tiñoso, if not even more so. Indeed, according to one description, the neoclassic style of the entrance there was inspired by the Temple of the White Soldiers in the Mayan ruins of Chichen-Itza (Mexico).

These guns are more difficult to reach than those at Cabo Tiñoso and there is a 6 kilometre or so round walk to reach the guns! Although it is well signed, it is a relentless slog up the old military road to reach the guns

There are two large Vickers’ guns to be seen (dating from 1930), plus various related buildings, and these have a range of some 35 kilometres. At the bottom of the hill in Portman, there was a collection of smaller guns (the Battery of La Chapa) near to the lighthouse. The guns have long since vanished, but the emplacements and related buildings are all still there and, again, can be visited.