No Paved Paradise, No Parking Lot

The city of Cartegena Spain is home to ruins that date back to the pre-roman era. These are its most famous Roman ruins, its theater

The city of Cartagena, Spain is home to ruins that date back to the pre-Roman era. These are its most famous Roman ruins, its theater.

It was the smallest city in Spain that I got to visit, and I was warned there would be “a few things to see,” but nothing like a Barcelona or Madrid. Yet for me, the visit to the city of Cartagena on the Southeastern Coast of Spain was the highlight of the trip. And of course, it was the glass that made it so.

It all began with the tour guide, Irena. She told a very American story of capitalism with a true Spanish flavor. It seems a local businessman had bought a piece of downtown property with the goal of building a desperately-needed parking lot in the southwestern part of the city. His company broke ground and, within a few days, hit something. That something was very hard and looked very old—ancient, almost.

The Interpretation of the Punic Wall Center uses glass in extremely effective and aestethic ways to showcase its 5000-year old treasurers. THis is a piece of the actual wall. Glass lets you see it outside and in.

The Interpretation of the Punic Wall Center uses glass in extremely effective and aesthetic ways to showcase its 5,000-year old treasurers. This is a piece of the actual wall. Glass lets you see it outside and in.

And that’s exactly what it was, because the construction crew had dug right smack into a set of pre-Roman ruins. After some archaeological study and carbon-dating, it was determined that the ruins were in fact the original Punic Wall around Cartagena, dated back to 3000 BC.  The wall, it seems, is 5,000 years old.

And then they discovered more ruins—only these were 1,800 years younger and included a meeting area and mortuary, all within the wall. They dated to approximately 1200 B.C.

Thus, the parking lot idea ended in ruin, but the property owner did not mind too much, because his blacktop had been replaced with a priceless antiquity. Now came the question of how to display and share this incredibly well-preserved example of pre-

The crypt and mortuary are extremely well preserved, but alas, only 3200 years old.

The crypt and mortuary are extremely well-preserved, but alas, only 3,200 years old.

Roman—building.

Hence the Punic Wall Interpretation Centre was built. But how to display?  That’s where glass comes in.

The Centre’s innovative design incorporates glass in an explosion of prepositions—about, above, behind, beside, below, etc.—to provide a unique and all-encompassing 360-degree view of the Wall and other structures across a number of elevations.

Because of the glass—and only because of the glass—you can get a full and complete feeling of the structure. Even the ramps rising half a story over parts of the ruins are made of glass. Now, I’ve seen plenty of glass flooring before, but never a full-span rising glass ramp. It made me proud that the material I cover so closely can do things and provide vistas that no other material on earth can.

The ruins are a timeless treasure; so too is the glass.

Juxtaposition of old and new, but glassmakes it work in the Fort in Cartagena, Spain.

Juxtaposition of old and new, but glass makes it work in the Fort in Cartagena, Spain.

3 Responses to “No Paved Paradise, No Parking Lot”

  1. Felix Hingham says:

    I have been to Cartagena, both Columbia and Spain, and saw the Roman ruins in Spain but did not know about this. I have really enjoyed your glass travelogue this summer. Are you ever coming back to the States?

  2. Deb Levy says:

    Thanks Felix. I was only in Europe two weeks and have been back over a month. Writing these blogs makes me feel like I am there again though. Thanks for writing.

  3. Frank Gaspar says:

    Thank you Deb for sharing your journey to Spain and for reminding us of the many importance that Glass serves for us all.

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