Some of the most exciting modern buildings were the work of architect, Victor Beltri (1862 - 1935). In spite of being born in Tortosa, Tarragona and being educated in Catalunya he did most of his best work in Cartagena and nearby. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth the city was extremely prosperous thanks to a boom in mining. Some of the millionaire families involved in the industry comissioned palaces from him. These splendid buildings are now almost all owned by different banks.
There are several buildings attributed to Beltri in Calle Mayor. It´s impossible to show these well in photographs though as the street is not wide enough to allow the photographer to get the whole building at once. When you walk down Calle Mayor look upwards as many of the better architectural details are above shop level. Many houses have been altered for the worse by adding shopfronts also.
Below is Casa Cervantes which is now owned by the CAM bank
Here is the Old Casino close by:
Here is a detail of its lower storey:
Further up Calle Mayor at the corner of Calle Jara there´s the huge Gran Hotel. This is now no longer a hotel but is a commercial centre that includes Banco La Caixa and others.
Here is a detail of it at street level:
At the end of Calle Mayor where the road divides into two there´s another pretty Beltri building. This dates from 1906. Unfortunately the lower storey is now divided into a restaurant called La Tartana and a branch of the Phone House. You can see from the upper parts how pretty this house must have been when intact.
Close by there´s the Palacio Pedreño. It is by the architect Carlos Mancha. It was built for an industrialist but is now owned by Caja Murcia. I went to a concert by Cecilia Berganza there last year. Many rooms in the palace are used for exhibitions or concerts. There are beautiful ceilings in some of these.
Away from Calle Mayor in Plaza San Francisco there are two more Beltri buildings.
It´s impossible to see let alone photograph much of this beautiful building thanks to the huge banyan trees in the square. Casa Maestre was built for one of the great mining families in 1905. Here´s a picture from an old site of how it looked before the huge trees filled up the square.
At Christmas these trees are used to huge effect as the Belen is constructed round their roots.
Plaza San Francisco used to be a market square. On the corner of it there is the Palacio de Aguirre. This Beltri building was going to become a gallery of modern art but it has now been decided to build a new one by the old amphitheatre.
Here is a detail from the upper parts of the building:
Plaza San Francisco also contains two Art Nouveau kiosks. These kiosks and ornate street lamps are a feature of the older parts of the city.
A short walk away there´s the impressive Enfe station designed by the engineer Rafael Peyroncely in 1907.
Near Teatro Circo there´s another Beltri building - Casa del Niño. It is a large building on a corner. It is still partly used and is being restored. It´s currently used for a variety of evening classes and training the town´s musical bands.
Opposite Casa del Niño there´s an old school now used as the Naval Museum. This was not designed by Beltri.
On the outskirts of the suburb known as Dolores there´s an interesting house in the remians of a botanic garden. Don´t know if it´s by Beltri or not. There is also a much more ruinous one known as Villa Calamari or Palacete Versalles. I shall try and photograph it eventually but it´s hard to get close given the huge overgrown garden outside.
Beltri´s style became simpler throughout the years. One of his later works was the Club de Regatas on the seafront.
The Parque de Artilleria which is now a Military Museum which occasionally hosts concerts
And nearby a handsome group of old naval buildings known as the Marinería. These are currently being converted for use by the University