Tuesday 7 May 2024

Museo Militar de Cartagena

Museo Militar de Cartagena

Housed in the cities old Artillery barracks which was built in the C18th under the reign of Carlos III. The building was badly damaged on 6 January 1874 during the Siege of Cartagena in the 3rd Carlist War when a shell landed inside setting off a number of secondary explosions killing hundreds of civilians who had been sheltering inside!!

The present museum uses about half of the original site plus part of the second floor which was added to the building during the C20th. Entrance is free and they have lockers for storing backpacks, etc. The staff were excellent - polite, knowledgable and very helpful. Within the museum you will find artifacts and displays from C15th up to hte present day.

From the entrance you are directed to the main courtyard and then in the anti-clockwise direction through the various halls.

Before we get to the photos I have three apologies to make: first I write this blog for me, it is about my hobby and I make no apologies for that, but this does mean I tend to gloss over of bypass stuff that doesn`t really float my boat. Two for the sheer number of photos I took, I just got carried away 😃 and finaly for the fact  that I got very excited and was rushing quite a bit to try and see everything and in doing didn`t check my camera or photos - so unfortunately some photos are grainy, blurry or suffer from sun glinting through windows 😒 

The courtyard had four guns one in each corner

This last one had a "Train Rouleur" 
An interesting piece of technology which was used to allow older horse drawn guns to be towed at speed by modern trucks

The first hall you enter is about engineers, it contains cabinets of tools, signals equipment, mapping & cartography, etc
Mule load frame

Next you head through room containing ordinance and ammunition of all types and calibers including very large shells, ground to air missiles, grenades & small arms. Plus medical and laboratory equipment. 
There is also a large section about the coastal batteries with huge generators, optical range-finders and targeting apparatus including a breach block for the huge 381/45mm Vicker-Armstrong cannon. There is also a great set of photos showing the plant in the UK building these monsters.

Then you come to the anti-aircraft exhibits

40/70 Bofors

20mm Oerlikon
ZB 60


You then step outside in to rear courtyard and circle back into the next hall which has a large "L" shaped gallery with some very large guns, vehicles more artillery than you can shake a stick at.

The rear courtyard does have a couple of interesting pieces also
M44 SP 105mm Howitzer
Another `88

The Main "L" is just amazing

M113 with Roland II

Stug IIIG 
One of ten given to Spain by the Germans during WW2, six were later sold to Syria. This survivor arrived at the Museum in 2002 where it has been completely restored with help given by British ex-pats who volunteered their time to assist.

Shore defence gun
As you can see by the last photo, they are working on restoring this one now, the guys working on her were English and told me they have the engine running but she leaks like a bitch at the moment 😄
Various mortars
Vehicle MGs

Schneider 155mm Model 1917
Schneider 150mm
47mm AT gun
Schneider 70mm mountain gun 
Armstrong 60pdr
Soviet 122mm

Rheinmetall 150/44
Sneider 105mm mountain gun
105mm Modelo 1940
Krupp 77/32
57mm RCL
Krupp 77mm
German 77mm 
Italian 105mm
Dodge 4x4 with 57mm RCL as used in Spanish Sahara
Vickers breech loader 
Various C15th to C18th mortars and cannon
Italian Depot Gun
Vicker-Maxim 57mm Quick fire

From this hall you then go back out inot the courtyard and head upstairs. Up a cool wooden staircase lead to a long well lit hall which tells the history of the barracks though its life from 15th Century. I freely confess pre 20th Century history is not an interest of mine as far as wargaming is concerned, so whilst I found it interesting I didn`t take photos or spend a huge amount of time in this area. 
C19th Brass cannon
This model shows the Artillery Barracks as it appeared next to the fortifications at the time of 3rd Carlist war in 1872

One of the side halls was dedicated to an incident during the Civil War which I was already aware of after my research into Jupiter Class Mine layers

On 7th March 1939 just days before the end of the war a small fleet of rebel ships were approaching the port of Cartagena as an brief uprising had taken place against the local authority which had been still loyal to the now crumbling Republic. They expected to sail into an unguarded port and claim the city for Franco, but Loyal troops reacted quickly and retook all the coastal batteries. Most of the ships recieved orders to abort and withdraw but two vessels - Castillo de Olite and Castillo Peñafiel who didn`t have radios proceeded on their course, the coastal battery at La Parajola about 4km from the port opened up on the ships and the Castillo de Olite took a direct hit off a Vickers 6inch gun which set off ammunition stored aboard and she blew up with the loss of 1477 military and naval personel - the worst loss of life suffered at sea during the SCW!   

Hall of Uniforms
Now as I`ve already said I don`t pre 20th Century, I don`t do moderns either, so i found the uniform hall pretty meh. Also all the (for me) interesting periods - 1920s, SCW displays seemed to only have parade uniforms. 
They did have a couple of interesting unifoms 
Foreign Legionnaire 

This grainy photo shows Debbie trying out a 3D tour of Cartagena Bay and the forts which protected it. The box rotates allowing the viewer to turn and swivel and look around, the naration could be set for several languages. Debbie later confessed this was her favourite part of the museum 😃

Hall of Miniatures
Now I`m sure many of those reading this are hobbyists such as myself with collections of models in whatever scale you`ve chosen (maybe several). I have on occation been know to look at photos of other peoples vast collections and think they are insane, but what you will find on the second floor of the museum is something out of this world.

Francisco Sánchez Abril has collected, build and painted the most amazing collection of 1/87th scale models I have ever seen. Back in 1998 his collection gained a place in the Guiness Book of World Records with 1,579 individual pieces. But as of our visit (02/05/2024) a notice lists the collection at 3,505 with 3,245 of those being on display at the museum!!

The collection covers militray vehicles from battering rams to main battle tanks, there are ships, aircraft, bunkers, space rockets from every nationality you can think of. All hand made and painted by Senor Sánchez over 50+ years.

I of course was drawn to the display of vehicles from the Spanish Civil War

Some of the models on display weren`t vehicles and some quite fun
A Dodge-Laffly Armoured car built in Vichy Syria
I`ve been wanting one for ages in 20mm mentioned it to Debbie and unknown to me she took this photo
Senot Sánchez`s second  Guiness certificate for 2,815 models in 2012

Highly recommended



  1. Excellent looking museum with lots of interesting things to marvel at.

    1. You could get lost wandering about looking at stuff :)

  2. Gosh, that’s a lot of stuff to look at. Thanks for all the pics

    1. Like I wrote, there was a lot more, I just couldn`t take it all in.

  3. That is an amazing collection of pics. Such a huge collection of artillery.



    1. Before it became a museum the building was used as a place to store finds and donations. It was also the Artillery Museum for a while before they changed it to all military. I`m sure I missed a few pieces too, there was just so much to catch the eye and distract you :)

  4. So much to take in. Thank you for all the posts of the museums you have done recently. Such amazing collections!

    1. Cheers Shaun, I try to keep posting what I think are interesting bits. Cartagena was well worth the visit, so much history.

  5. Last Spanish Military Museum I´ve been was the one at Coruña which is excellent and much like this one. Thanks for the pictures.

    1. Sevilla has a small museum too - great display of uniforms

  6. Richard, WOW! Your photo tour does us (and the military museum of Cartagena) proud! What an interesting museum; and one I must visit. I have never been to Cartagena despite an interest in doing so to see this city and its history as a Phoenician cum Punic cum Carthaginian colony before Rome seized it. (Then many more kingdoms seized it after them.)
    I think this museum out does the Tenerife Military Academy Museum (which I have previously visited) and which houses many items associated with the Spanish Civil War.
    Your honest note about your field of interest doesn’t limit what you have shown to be on display and of interest to early modern 20th century history buffs and toy soldier gamers! So the possibility of more to see is quite exciting as my interests range back to ancient history and forward to early modern period.
    I think I would need two or three days to take it all in. Have to wait till my wife has had her knee operations as it sounds to have a lot of walking or standing involved and she is a keen history buff too.
    Thank you for sharing this gem.

  7. Cheers Carl, Debbie was more interested in the ancient stuff, but found lots to attract her attention in the more modern period museums - the siege during the Third Carlist War, the ships and submarines (our eldest is working on a naval mine detector drone at present), medical and field engineering displays. She totally loved that 3d guided tour and raved about it for ages afterwards. I think she was quietly impressed about how much i knew about different displays and the general history also :)