The Portman Guns are a fine example of Cartagena's military history. The coastal slopes around Cartagena are dotted with the remains of old fortresses and gun batteries. Of these, the Portman Guns are the largest and most well preserved. They get their English name from the nearby village of Portman but are known in Spanish as the Batería de Las Cenizas. Visiting the guns is a bit of a hike, but the surrounding countryside is beautiful and the views out to sea breathtaking.
Portman Guns Hiking Trail
The hiking trail to the Portman Guns is around 30 minutes drive from Cartagena towards the popular resort area of La Manga. This can be reached by taking the main RM-12 towards La Manga and then turning right onto the RM-314 just before Los Belones. Alternately, you can hook up with the RM-314 by exiting Cartagena on the N-332 then turning right on the N-345. Whichever way you travel, when on the RM-314 keep an eye out for the RM-F42 which is also signposted Llano del Beal. The wooden gate to the hiking trail is opposite this road.
The hike to the guns takes around 40 minutes, much of it uphill. So, be sure to wear hiking boots or sturdy trainers and bring along water and sun cream, although there are many shady areas along the trail. Most visitors bring along a packed lunch to enjoy while taking in the wonderful views across the Calblanque National Park and all the way to Cabo de Palos jutting out into the Mediterranean. Bear in mind, if you don't bring along a snack there are no facilities at the guns.
Exploring The Portman Guns
Upon reaching the gun battery hikers are rewarded with a bit of Cartagena's military history. Built by renowned arms manufacturer Vickers in the early 1920's, the two huge guns weigh a staggering 88 tones each. With a length of 18.6 metres, the guns firing range is also impressive at 35 kilometres. The gun battery also consists of several buildings and tunnels. These were used to access the diesel engines that operated the guns. Take care when exploring the tunnels as they are rather dark. Surrounding the gun battery is a picturesque viewing platform, great for a picnic.