Caravaca de La Cruz is considered to be one of the five holy cities in the world, and a key destination for pilgrims and travellers alike who are looking for an inspiring, different and above all enjoyable place to go.
Don't leave until tomorrow what you could visit on a pilgrimage today. It's not every day you're lucky enough to visit one of the five cities in the world that celebrates the Jubileo Perpetuo. Caravaca's Basilica holds the Santísima and the Vera Cruz, worshiped since the 13th Century, which hold fragments of the cross upon which Christ died on inside. This is one of those special places where travellers come to from all over the world with an atmosphere worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime. If you want an even more profound experience, we would suggest El Camino de Vera Cruz, an old route stretching nearly 900km long full of idyllic settings, sentiments and magic that links Camino de Santiago, set at the heights of Roncesvalles, with the Vera Cruz shrine in Murcia. Once there, you will find everything signposted to help you.
If you're a party person, there are dates and places that you just cannot miss. The patronal festivals of Caravaca de la Cruz, declared of International Tourist Interest, are celebrated from the first until the fifth of May. The two highlights include Moros y Cristianos, and the Caballos Del Vino, which attracts thousands of people and whose spectacular sight exceeds all known limits. You need only watch the thundering horse race down the castle slope for this to be proven. If you don't want to stand out, don't forget to wear a red neck-scarf.
CUADRILLAS DE BARRANDA FESTIVAL
They say that in the small village of Barranda you will find the oldest tradition of folk music in the country, and this is demonstrated on the last Sunday of every January during La Fiesta de las Cuadrillas. Declared a festival of National Tourist Interest, this classic event between all the popular music festivals is capable of gathering thousands of people out onto the streets, turning the town into a huge outdoor stage in which singers, musicians and dancers show off their talent whilst, as always, accompanied by great food and wine.
A CHARMING SPOT
Located a little more than two kilometres from the inner city of Caravaca, one of the prettiest spots in the region awaits you, the Fuentes del Marqués. Here you will find natural springs of pure water, lots of wildlife and an undeniable charm to help you unwind. There is also an old Torreón Templario which according to legends served as an outpost to defend against the Muslims in the Middle Ages, and which now houses the Centro de Interpretación de la Naturaleza.
THE TRAIL OF ORIGINS
The first remains of Caravaca's settlements date back to the Palaeolithic era. From then on and up until now, many archaeology sites still serve as a testimony to Caravaca's past. Out of all of them, the must-see is the Archaeological Complex of La Encarnación, which holds prehistoric, Iberian, Roman and Medieval remains - a paradise for archaeology lovers.
At this rate, we suggest you have a break from all that walking and go visit one of the city's museums. One of the most original is the Música Étnica de Barranda Museum, where around 1,000 musical instruments from all eras and continents are exhibited. Located in a district with less than 900 inhabitants and built upon the remains of a 14th Century flour mill, this museum would be enjoyable in any capital city in the world. Other recommended stops are the Vera Cruz Museum, the Archaeological Museum, the Fiesta Museum, the Carrilero Museum and the Ángel Reinón Miniature Museum.
THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH
Caravaca has some of the best religious architecture in the whole Region of Murcia. A fabulous network of churches, convents and other places of worship form almost a labyrinth in which it would be easy to lose yourself... although to get lost in these narrow streets, plateaus and dead-end alleys would not be too bad. The Iglesia de la Soledad, the Iglesia del Salvador, the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, the Templete, the Santa Clara monastery, the Santa Elena, San Sebastian, Reja chapels and the magnificent Santísima and Vera Cruz Basilica are all must-sees.
LA VÍA VERDE (THE GREEN PATHWAY)
If you like trekking or biking then we have good news for you. Here can also be found the former railway track that joined Caravaca with Murcia and is now more commonly known as Vía Verde, which everyone can enjoy. You will find a 78 km long natural walkway with 7 hostels along the way in case you need a rest or any refreshments. Caravaca also has a large number of smaller walking trails, Eco tourist pathways and diverse pilgrimage routes that that all join up here from different places all across Spain and the Region of Murcia. Are you ready to go?
A must see for curious treasure seekers. On the third Sunday of each month the Peregrino Market is held, the best place to buy hand crafted and typical products of the area. If you're still looking for more, during La Constitución public holiday, a huge area of the old town is transformed and crowds of craftsmen come out onto the street to show off the fruits of their work, whilst demonstrations, food tasting, and fun performances take place for both the young and old.
A 10/10 GASTRONOMY
In this neck of the woods, you'll find typical dishes such as migas ruleras, stews and tartera, a lamb and potato roast accompanied by an aioli sauce. You'll also find an ample variety of typical rice dishes with rabbit, chicken, chickpeas, snails or cod. In terms of confectionary, it would be a real shame if you left without trying alfajor or the incredibly famous yemas -egg-yolk based sweets made with sugar, and smothered in caramel or chocolate. Even in the most holy of cities there's still room for temptation - they are just scrumptious! To digest all this food, guests traditionally try the house drinks such as la mistela and the licor café.
Welcome to Murcia, one of the most comfortable capital cities you can imagine. We will let you know about what you shouldn't miss in this multicultural city, where life is in the streets, and where tradition and modernity harmoniously coexist.
TO ONE'S HEART'S CONTENT
Going from one terrace to another, from one square to another, walking about the streets and enjoying life in the open air is one of the best ways of blending in with the Murcian atmosphere. The good climate, together with cultural blending, have made Murcian people learn how to enjoy the hubbub to the full. Having some 'cañicas' -small draft beers- while chitchatting is here a real pleasure. If you add a couple of typical tapas from the region, we're talking about luxury. You won't be able to say 'no' to marineras, caballitos, matrimonios or pasteles de carne. Other typical dishes are michirones, Murcian salad, pisto and even some raw broad beans from the huerta with dried and salted bonito or some tomato slices. If you have a sweet tooth, try the paparajotes: lemon tree leaves coated in a dough made of flour, eggs, milk and grated lemon peel, which are fried and then dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Having them with a little glass of sweet wine is an authentic Murcian pleasure. But don't let anybody kid you: you DON'T have to eat the leaves.
In May, two giant festivals take place in Murcia: SOS and Murcia Tres Culturas, which are two very different but just as appealing musical adventures, with music and arts for tolerance, social harmony, solidarity and sustainability. In July, Murcia proves to be a capital blend of refined sensibilities from all over the world with the Mediterranean International Folklore Festival, which is Spain's oldest festival. Cinema enthusiasts are in their element at Ibn Arabi International Film Festival, a little jewel in the Olympus of young, promising film festivals which takes place in March, offering a week of independent films and additional activities; it resuscitates some film treasures that are usually swallowed up by commercial film producers. In November, Murcia celebrates the Region of Murcia International Puppet Theatre Festival, Títeremurcia, a stunning display of creativity offering sentimental, romantic people and children the opportunity to enjoy stories and puppet shows, and filling the city with the best audience in the world.
GO FOR A STROLL
Murcia is perfect to walk around: wandering through Trapería and Platería -two charming streets in the old part of the city- and following the scent of fresh coffee, enjoying its nice squares, and watching the sunset from Paseo del Malecón, surrounded by gardens and orchards, really are priceless. Another good idea is to rent a bike and roll; you'll definitely come across something interesting which doesn't appear in any guidebooks. Whatever the reason for your stay, we suggest you make space in your diary and spend some time in the city centre's commercial districts, boutiques, marketplaces, street markets... And of course, at the Centro de Artesanía -Craftwork Centre-, where you will find your very own 'little piece of Murcia' to take home.
A GREAT SQUARE
Cardenal Belluga square, commonly known as the Cathedral's square, brings together some of the city's main symbols, such as Santa María Cathedral, the Bishop's Palace and the Moneo Building. You'll find it inevitable to visit the Cathedral's Museum, go up the Cathedral's tower, go through the arcades, and sit down at any of this emblematic square's terraces to watch the hustle and bustle while you enjoy the view and the typical cuisine.
MUSEUMS FOR ALL
Coming to Murcia and not visiting its museums is a crime. They are so different from one another that you can spend a whole day visiting them without getting exhausted. The city's most outstanding museum is probably the Salzillo Museum, which houses the most important and complete collection by this brilliant Murcian sculptor: it includes the Holy Week floats, the 556 pieces nativity scene, and a set of original sketches. Also outstanding are the Santa Clara Museum, housing the region's best Islamic art collection and the valuable historical and artistic heritage owned by the nuns of the Order of St Clare, and the Ramón Gaya Museum, an intimate gallery with the main works by the 20th century's most distinguished Murcian painter. Other relevant museums are the Cathedral's Museum, the Archaeological Museum, the Fine Arts Museum, the San Juan de Dios Museum... In case you want to spend the day with children, we recommend the Science and Water Museum and the University Aquarium too.
If you want to enjoy a top-notch visit in Murcia, don't forget to go up to the Quitapesares terrace. Its viewpoint, next to La Fuensanta Sanctuary in El Valle y Carrascoy Regional Park, is even more perfect in the moonlight. You should complete the experience by trying some tapas or a glass of wine. If you go there during the day, you will be jealous of Murcian people for living next to this magnificent mountain range, which is fabulous for sports such as hiking, climbing, cycling and orienteering. On a small vantage point to the north, with opposite but quite as interesting views, is Terra Natura: a theme park with recreated natural habitats from throughout the world as well as a water park with toboggans, swimming-pools and an artificial river. One of its highlights is swimming with sea lions. Ideal for home-loving adventurers.
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN
If you enjoy staying out late during your holidays, we are pleased to tell you that Murcia's nightlife is one of the best among Spanish destinations. You'll find all kinds of nightclubs and bars, as well as restaurants opening till late, chiringuitos and affordable hotels. Most Murcian people enjoy being at a terrace in the city centre when dusk is falling: you can try it anytime throughout the year because of the city's mild weather and open character.
When was the last time you went to the theatre? Coming to Murcia and enjoying a great show at the legendary Romea Theatre is a winning bet: just sit down while the lights are switched off and start dreaming. Other relevant stages to get away from routine are the Víctor Villegas Auditorium and Conference Centre, the Teatro Circo, and the Puppa Clown Performing Arts Centre.
I spy with my little eye something beginning with...'C' for 'Cathedral' and 'Casino' -meaning social club-. The Cathedral is the region's most important temple and one of its main symbols too; it has more than 600 years of history and was built on the city's old Great Mosque. It is the perfect example of a monument with superposition of styles, from Gothic to Renaissance and impressive Baroque architecture. You will find it inevitable to go up its tower, admire its facade, and visit its museum and the Vélez and Junterón chapels. As a curiosity, Alphonse X the Wise's heart lies within an urn next to the High Altar. The Casino, as a social club, has been Murcia's social crossroads since the 19thC. Visiting this emblematic building, at the capital city's heart, is a real delight for elegance enthusiasts. It has become quite an institution in Trapería street, and is nowadays a culture and social harmony revitalising centre. You won't forget its Louis XV-style ballroom.
VISIT US IN SPRING
Visiting Murcia during its Fiestas de Primavera -Spring Festivities- is highly beneficial for your health; since the weather is simply perfect at this time of the year, and squares and parks are filled with colours, scents, barracas huertanas where you can taste the typical cuisine, and traditional events such as the Murcia en Primavera Parade, the Tunas -student music groups- Contest, and the Testamento Sardinero -Testament of the Sardine-. The two most important days within this week of festivities are Tuesday, with the Bando de la Huerta parade, and Saturday, with the Entierro de la Sardina -Burial of the Sardine- parade, both declared to be of International Tourist Interest. The day the Bando de la Huerta takes place, Murcian people as well as visitors go out in their traditional huertano costumes and enjoy a celebration which culminates in a great costumbrist parade. The Entierro de la Sardina is a spectacular parade, an unseasonable mixture of myth and carnival including floats from which thousands of toys are thrown to the little ones. The funniest funeral you can ever imagine.
Molina de Segura, surrounded by mountains, is located on the left bank of the Segura River. This destination will surprise you not only by its industrial shapes and its extraordinary landscapes but also by all the fascinating adventures on offer.
IN GOOD COMPANY
In the midst of this industrial scenery, you will be amazed by this natural oasis in the heart of the city: the La Compañía Park (Company Park). This is a combination of green spaces and cultural elements, such as the Park Waterwheel, the Auditorium and the tree-lined avenues like Las Letras. The ground of this amazing boulevard is covered with plates with the names of the main writers of Molina. It was created to honour a successful literary generation known as Autores del Meteorito (Meteorite Authors). Legend has it that their talent is related to the enigmatic radiation produced by the impact of an enormous meteorite in Molina in 1858.
THE ART OF SWING
Like all types of art, golf requires dedication. If you are an amateur golf player, we encourage you to visit the Altorreal Course. After that, you won't be able to stop playing golf! It consists of a natural area, home to more than 20,000 trees, a golf school, all kind of facilities and a wonderful course with 18 holes characterized mainly by its innovative use of water. It's surrounded by semi-desert mountains and it's suitable for players at all levels.
TABLECLOTH OR CANVAS?
If you want to go deeper into the cuisine of Molina de Segura, you have to follow two steps. Firstly, look for the establishments marked with La Dama -a logotype that represents all the top-quality restaurants supporting local products. And secondly, choose among our traditional dishes: "migas ruleras" (fried bread crumbs with cold meat), "arroz a la huertana" (rice with vegetables), "olla de cerdo" (pork with beans) or "mondongo viudo" (rice, potato, onion, chickpeas and garlic); or try our avant-garde cuisine and enjoy its most sophisticated tastes and mixes offered by the most innovative restaurants... and always with a Mediterranean touch!
MAN vs. WILD
If you want to know in advance what you're going to see during your trip, there isn't a shade of doubt: the white-headed duck -an unusual endangered waterfowl from the wetland of Campotéjar Lagoon- is looking forward to meet you. This natural area is an ornithological paradise where you will enjoy bird-watching and take memorable postcards of large irrigable fields, sensational sunsets and wonderful reflections on the wide water layers of the wetland.
"Show, music, fun... that's what B-Side's groups are". If you are ready to receive an incredible sound shake, you have to come to this festival celebrated in the football pitch Sánchez Cánovas on the second weekend of September. The latest trends of independent, pop and electronic music are waiting for you. You will realize why it has become one of the major events a real festival-goer can't miss. And that's not all; 9 hours of uninterrupted music and great parties are guaranteed.
In October, Molina celebrates its International Theatre Festival without curtains or seats. This is because it's the most important regional performance of street, experimental and claiming theatre. Although the festival consists mostly of open air plays, you will also be able to see more traditional ones or those requiring a room in the city pubs or the Villa de Molina Theatre. If you want to undertake a theatrical journey but you can't come during the festival, keep calm and come to any of the debuts the theatre offers throughout the year.
We can't assure you that by snapping your fingers while taking the chimneys tour, everything will return to normal; nor that if you open your umbrella, you'll blow away to dance and jump on the chimneys of the city. However you will certainly travel back in time to the powerful industrial past of Molina. This journey will take you from square to square and from garden to garden to the ancient factories of the municipality. Currently, they are restored as leisure and cultural spaces guarded by showy contemporary sculptures and a play area.
A WINDOW TO THE PAST
The Albarda Museum is one of the most unusual and original museums of the area. As if it was a XXL Pandora's Box, the museum preserves all those traditions that have governed the locals' daily life since the ancient past. After an introduction about natural environment and anthropology, you will discover probably the flashiest room, containing all sort of things related to magical believes, traditional feasts, natural medicine, games and weather forecasts. This is a nod to some arcane rituals that sometimes are still very important nowadays.
The shopping environment of Molina de Segura is unlike any other. The downtown streets are full of shops overflowed with souvenirs you won't be able to resist buying. One of the most suggestive offers for shopping lovers is the market celebrated on Saturday morning in the La Compañía Park. There is a high-quality exhibition of local products and traditions. The Guadalabiad Market -a craft market celebrated on the first Saturday of each month- holds activities and live demonstrations you can't miss. Molina is also known for its fur trade; its main clothes-making and fur sales workshops are located at the city entrance, on the Avenida de la Industria.
A MEDIEVAL CITY
This tour through the historical centre of Molina gives you the opportunity to discover 8 centuries of culture in less than two hours and a half. As you walk, you will be able to imagine how citizens lived during the Middle Ages. El Cid Campeador, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, passed by this part of the city, where the King Alphonse VI exiled him for the second time. The citadel on the top of the hill and the remains of the wall that protected the population will take you back to our most epic past.
Bullas has been traditionally considered as the entrance to the North West of Murcia. Life in this village revolves around wine, making possible a "perfect match" between culture and vine, history and a green and mountainous nature
If you're crazy about top-quality wine, you'll really love Bullas. The best option to taste his Designation of Origin is following this route which includes wine-tastings, museums, wineries and walks through vineyards. There are more than 200 traditional and preserved (totally or partially) wineries only in the town centre. This is the best way to learn, taste and, specially, to enjoy, which is the main purpose.
MORE ABOUT WINE
The Wine Museum and the Don Pepe Marsilla House Museum are two places to be visited. The first one is located in a traditional and perfectly preserved wine cellar. Here, it's possible to discover the making process of wine in traditional and modern ways of elaboration. There's a special relationship between Bullas and the viticulture since Roman times. Don't forget to go down to the cellar surrounded by brick vaults and large earthenware jars partially buried in the ground. At Pepe Marsilla House Museum, it seems that the clock stopped in 1900. The frescoes, trompe l'oeil and the rest of modernist décor in the residential area compete by its spectacular design with work area and wineries.
SHOPPING & HANDICRAFTS MARKETS
El Zacatín market is hold on the first Sunday of each month transforming the surroundings of the Plaza Vieja and Plaza del Castillo in an epicenter of handicrafts with jugglers, storytellers, pipers and alchemists of the Middle Ages. Don't miss any of the handicrafts collections about old and forgotten trades and enjoy the tastings. As a curiosity, this is the only market held in the region throughout the year.
KEEP THE SECRET
If you want to go for a dip in revitalising waters between exuberant nature, then the Salto del Usero, a waterfall of several feet of altitude, won't disappoint you. Legend has it that a Moorish died in these waters for the love of a Christian. Since then, every year on the night of San Juan the scene's recreated to celebrate this magical evening. If you come, it's important not to forget to test the water that the Moorish has in her pitcher. It's supposed to give good luck!
Located six kilometers far away from the town, the Valle del Aceniche (Aceniche Valley) is a beautiful and natural spot surrounded by pine groves where there're strains over half a century old. The perfect destination for those fleeing the heat, due to its highland, fresh air and a cool microclimate. The place is so beautiful that it seems that everything has been placed on purpose, as in a painting. No matter if you travel on foot, by bike or by all-terrain vehicle... you'll want to stay there forever!
From the Plaza de España, this route passes through the Camino Real and Avenida de Cehegín, and also through stately buildings of the 20th century. The Clock Tower, the façades of the Carreño and Pascual Marsilla houses are some of the modernist artists of interest. It's an elegant and lively promenade, which fascinates by its irregular shapes and intense chromaticism of buildings.
THE WINE FESTIVAL
Jazz and flamenco concerts, recitals, painting exhibitions and other activities such as wine-tastings and routes of the tapa are essential in this festival celebrated in February where wine is, without question, the star. This is a great opportunity to taste the best Designation of Origin wines and to enjoy wine pairings. People in Bullas said: "If you come to Bullas, drink wine, don't be shy!"
For those fleeing from the rush of the city and the stress, just one mile from the center of the town they'll find paradise: La Rafa, the perfect place to charge their batteries and relax. There're different possibilities to choose: going round to the camping or to the Centro de Agroecología y Medio Ambiente de Murcia (Center for Agroecology and Environment of Murcia), CEAMA. The last one, apart from offering workshops and practices of organic farming and eco-development, proposes themed routes, workshops, visits to the observatory and other leisure activities.
DON'T STOP THE PARTY!
By the end of September and in full grape harvest, festivals are held in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, saint patron of the town chosen by popular vote in 1723. Each year, these celebrations attract tourists and curious neighbors, who come to the Plaza Vieja to enjoy the traditional grape treading, the blessing of the first grape juice and the opening of the wine fountain. Most revelers will feel at home in the Diana, celebrations that start on Saturday at 7 a.m., when hundreds of people flock to launch dozens of kilos of flour, raw eggs and gallons of beer and wine. Are you ready?
Although there's no doubt that you'll find "torrijas" (bread soaked in milk, fried and then coated with sugar) in many other places, we assure you that there're no others as "torrijas" from Bullas. So remember that you can¿t leave without tasting these sponge cakes dipped in syrup or buy them. In addition to this delicious dessert, we encourage you to take a look at the local handicrafts and to try honey, sausages and local products.
At 7 miles from Murcia and situated in a fertile valley, this small town of unique character is found. Mula fuses its Arab structure with noble mansions, a castle, palaces and monuments whose origin goes back to the time in which the Marquis of Los Vélez dominated these territories.
DRUMS AND DRUMROLLS
Every Holy Tuesday, at midnight, Mula hosts an acoustic earthquake that lasts without interruption until 4 pm the following day. This is the Noche de los Tambores (Night of the Drums). Everyone can participate in this festival, the only requirement is to dress in a black tunic and bring a percussion instrument. If you are lucky, you may be able to witness the Pángana, a spontaneous spectacle in which two drummers compete face to face to show who can endure the most or play the best.
FROM THE ENEOLITHIC TO THE IBERIANS
We encourage you to visit one of the most important rock sites of the Region, the Abrigo del Milano. The paintings that await you are more than 6,000 years old. As well as this it conserves a spectacular burial from the Eneolithic period. For its part, the Cigarralejo Museum is a reference point for the study of Iberian culture at a world level and it houses a collection of 80 grave goods from a nearby Iberian necropolis, as well as other pieces of ceramics, rock sculptures and armaments.
KEEP IT A SECRET
One of the best-kept secrets of Mula is the hidden Fuente Caputa natural area, where you will be able to enjoy a walk in the fresh air and a toning bath surrounded by nature. The path that leads to the last pond is easy and fun to take; you only have to follow the stream. The waters of these springs flow into the Pantano de la Cierva reservoir, another beautiful site to take a trip to.
HOUSES AND CASTLES
Emblem of the town, the Casa Pintada is a house-palace from 1770 and is currently a Contemporary Art Interpretation Centre where they have on show more than 150 pieces, among them sculptures and paintings of the famous artist from Mula, Cristóbal Gabarrón. For its part, the Los Vélez Castle that is situated in the highest part of the town, is one of its main attractions. Although you can't enter inside, from there you can see the whole valley, achieving some stunning views.
A STOP ALONG THE WAY
The beautiful area of El Niño, situated a few kilometres from Mula, has traditionally been a boarding house and a place of refreshment for travellers, for that reason it is a tradition to make a stop here along the way to alleviate hunger and tiredness. Close by, the Shrine of El Niño is found, a place of pilgrimage where apparently baby Jesus appeared to the shepherd Pedro Botía, who in that moment was driving his cattle through the El Balate area.
NORTHWEST RAIL TRAIL
This stretch of the rail trail goes from Los Baños de Mula to Bullas. You will have no problem following the path, since it is fully signposted and well conditioned for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The contrast between the scenery of the badlands, pine forests and lush orchards of lemon trees is simply incredible. Furthermore, to make your stay even more genuine you have the option of staying in the local hostels.
The Villaricos Old Roman Villa is one of the most important archaeological examples of the municipality of Mula. The site is divided into a residential area, with hot springs and domestic spaces, and another of work, in which they have preserved the remains of the oil mills for the production of wine and oil.
CRAFT AND TRADITION
The Handicrafts Market of Las Cuatro Plazas takes places on the second Sunday of each month, except for in June, July and August, where the best craftsmen of the region come together to offer various products from forge and esparto grass tools to wooden objects, cold meat bread, sweets, pottery, carpets, cheeses and crafts. Here it is possible to see live artisan demonstrations, try typical products and take part in the activities and entertainment.
A FAIRY TALE LANSCAPE
Another one of the top experiences of Mula is the flowering of the almond tree, in the Umbría of Sierra Espuña Regional Park. It is best to go to this spectacle in February in the vicinity of the district of Casas Nuevas, which has the highest density of almond trees of the Region. There you will take a walk along a sea of white and pink petals whose sparkle announces the end of winter and that, together with the green of the Umbría, form the skin of carpeted scenery like from a fairy tail.
In the old part of Mula, in the high part of the town, stands the Royal Monastery of La Encarnación raised on a 16th Century Hermitage where only the bell tower remains. The building, that is considered one of the architectural jewels of Mula, has a cloister of a squared two-bodied floor that gives access to the different rooms of the congregation of Order of Santa Clara.
The municipality of Cehegín is located in the heart of the north-western district. Prehistoric, Iberian, Roman, Visigoth, Arab and Christian settlers left their legacy in these landscapes with ever-changing nature, a legacy everyone enjoys today.
The historical centre of Cehegín is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful of the Region. As a declared Historical-Artistic Ensemble, whose streets and alleys are crammed with manor houses, palaces, churches, viewpoints and more than 116 noble coats of arms, it is a museum itself. Go for a walk and stop to see the churches of Santa María Magdalena, La Soledad and the recently repaired La Concepción. Also, the palaces Villar de Felices and Peña Jaspe, the Count of Campillos House, the Real Piedad Hospital and the Duke of Ahumada palace are a must-see. If it's still hard to believe a city can enclose so much charm in such a small space, look for an itinerary with an audio guide to clear up any doubts.
THE LOST CITY
Only 1.8 miles away from Cehegín, the Roman-Visigoth city of Begastri is considered the most important town of its kind. Its unique archaeology will leave you breathless. This city, settled by Iberians, Romans and Visigoths, was the episcopal see during its most majestic era and remained hidden for hundreds of years. Its symbol is the "Monogrammatic Cross".
The Archaeological Museum of Cehegín is actually divided into three parts, as its rooms are set in three historical buildings in the Plaza del Castillo. These rooms give you the opportunity to discover more about the ancient civilisations that lived here, just like a time machine. The Town Council, the Fajardo Palace and the annexed building in Calle Mayor hold one of the most valuable collections of the Region, containing Prehistoric, Iberian, Late Roman-Visigoth and medieval heritage.
The Duke of Ahumada palace is one of the most symbolic and interesting private buildings of the Region. The palace, located in Calle Mayor, holds the ballroom, the duke's office, the red room and the chapel, preserving the Baroque altarpiece and other objects and liturgical garments. The Ethnographic Museum in the basement exhibits the Order of Santiago uniforms, several 19th and 20th centuries suits, a sample of craft canvas sandals -very typical here in Cehegín- and some horse-drawn carriages in the courtyard.
LOST IN WONDER
The Sanctuary of the Virgen de las Maravillas (the Virgin of Wonders)-also known as Franciscan convent of Saint Stephen-is a spiritual attraction both for locals and tourists. Built between the 16th and 18th centuries and declared Monument of National Interest, this is one of the few remaining samples of genuine Murcian Baroque. The sanctuary houses the image of the Virgen de las Maravillas, a beautiful virgin who became the patron of the town soon after arriving. The most outstanding part of the convent is its interior Baroque cloister, being the centre axis surrounded by all the other constructions.
CRAFT MARKET EL MESONCICO
The craft market El Mesoncico, declared European Heritage, is held on the last Sunday of every month (except in summer) on the highest point of the historical centre of Cehegín. Many craftsmen of the area meet here and offer a great variety of products, such as cold meat, ceramics, sweets, soaps, wine and cheese. The markets are themed and there are usually tastings and live demonstrations of ancient craft trades. There is a free transport service connecting the Plaza del Mesoncico and the car park of the terrace of the Marble Technological Centre.
RUTA DE LA TAPA
The Ruta de la Tapa y el Cóctel of Cehegín is a long-lasting event which attracts thousands of visitors in March keen to taste the most original tapas and the best cocktails. Enjoy this gastronomic tour using all your senses and go deep into the wealth of the Mediterranean cuisine, while increasing your knowledge of culinary techniques. Be careful not to lose your map as it will help you find easily all the participating restaurants; or forget about all that, get on the free minibus and go from one bar to another as you like.
The Festival of the Patron of Cehegín is held every year from 8th to 14th September, the perfect moment to drop by and enjoy its perfect weather and the most cheerful atmosphere of the year. The focal point of the Festival is the Fairgrounds, holding about 150 stalls of groups and "peñas" (clubs). Furthermore, many events take place at this time for people of all ages, such as the Pilgrimage of El Rocío, the Día de los Huertanos (Day of the inhabitants of the "huerta") and for the most seasoned revellers, the Festibando (a night party with concerts closing the Día de los Huertanos).
After reading this you will go mad to go back to school. This one is located inside a 17th century wine cellar, in the basement of La Tercia Palace. Here you will learn everything about wine: grape varieties, kinds of glasses, bottles and even corkscrews, wine production processes, serving temperatures and wine pairing. As practice is the best way to learn, you should take an active part in tastings and workshops.
CRÈME DE LA CRÈME
The cuisine of Cehegín makes it worth a visit. Its most typical dishes are both wholesome and delicious, especially the "empedrao" (rice with cod, beans, garlic and tomato), "chamorro" (dough with saffron and meat), "migas" (flour crumbs with pork or fish), "potaje" (sauté with Swiss chard), "olla de matanza" (pork stew with chickpea and potatoes), and different rice dishes. The locals are especially proud of the Alcuza pear tree -also known as Cehegín pear tree- a winter fruit with particular taste and scent, which make it unique. If you have a sweet tooth, the typical sweets, such as "garrapiñadas" (caramel-coated almonds), "alfajor" (almond pastry) and "picardías" (hazelnut covered with caramelised sugar) will satisfy your appetite. And don't forget that the best way to get to know this world is to make a gastronomic tour or take part in tastings at craft markets.
The Northwest bears the hallmark of contrast. This area has mountain moors, vineyards, cornfields, ricefields and mountain ranges. The origin of its history dates back to the Paleolithic period, and its geography makes places be unique enclaves, very different from the rest of the region and far from traditional crossing points.
We do not have proof that Jules Verne ever was in the Region of Murcia, but we are sure he would have appreciated the fact that Calasparra has something similar to the entrance to the Centre of the Earth. The Cueva del Puerto, with a distance of 14km, is a reference cave if you enjoy spelunking, stalactites and stalagmites. Adventure, sports and science, all in one.
TABLE AND TABLECLOTH
Visiting this area is a piece of cake. In addition, it has one of Spain's best rice types: Calasparra rice, with guarantee of origin. It combines perfectly with wines from Bullas, also with guarantee of origin, and famous for their taste and intensity. Moreover, adding a wide range of stews, such as empedrao and rin ran, and some typical pastries, such as yemas from Caravaca de la Cruz, you get a quite tasty route.
THE LOST CITY
Just 3km away from Cehegín is Begastri, a Roman-Visigothic city, considered to be Spain's most important villa of its kind. Iberians, Romans and Visigoths settled in this place, which has been hidden for centuries, and the symbol of which is the 'Monogrammatic Cross'. Experience archaeology in its purest form.
AT THE TOP
One of the excuses to visit the Northwest is going up the region's highest peak on the Macizo de Revolcadores in Moratalla, which seems to have been created for mountain climbers. The difficulty is moderate and the views from the top are outstanding. At about ground level is the Sabinar -savin forest-, a place to dream: it is a forest with centenarian savins which will take you millions of years back in time. If you don't feel like hiking, you can admire the mountain beauty from one of the neighbouring villages, while you enjoy a traditional rice dish.
Caravaca de la Cruz is one of five towns in the world with the privilege of celebrating the Perpetual Jubilee. It was comfort for templars and knights, and is filled with the scent of thyme, olive trees, centenarian holm oaks and natural springs, such as those at Las Fuentes del Marqués natural setting. The town is one of those special places to which travellers come from all over the world; everybody should experience its atmosphere at least once in a lifetime. Which is the best way to get there? As a pilgrim, going along the Camino de la Cruz -Way of the Cross-, which starts at Roncesvalles and goes through five different Spanish autonomous regions.
The Almadenes Canyon is one of the region's most beautiful and remote natural settings. Its walls, some 120m high at some points, are full of caves and caverns with cave paintings which have been declared to be a World Heritage by UNESCO. La Serreta Cave-Chasm is a reference: it has 50 figures inside, and the view from the heights is overwhelming. The Canyon is also perfect to enjoy rafting, canyoning, bird watching, and hiking on its summits. Going down the zip line will be an unforgettable experience for the daring ones!
CAVE ART HERITAGE
Casa Cristo de Moratalla is an Interpretation Centre devoted to spreading and preserving Levantine cave paintings, declared to be a World Heritage by UNESCO. It is at a beautiful natural setting near the old part of the town -just 7km away from it-.
A CHARMING TOWN
Cehegín's historic district is one of the nicest and best preserved in the whole region. It is highly recommended to lose oneself in its narrow streets with a Medieval air and to enjoy its manor houses, palaces, squares and churches. It is quite a ritual to arrive to Plaza de la Constitución square and stick out the Mirador -viewpoint-, in order to admire a wonderful panoramic view of the town and the neighbouring huerta.
If you enjoy sports and nature, indulge yourself with a healthy day on foot, by bike or on horseback along the Northwest Greenway. It is one of the nicest walks in the area: it is surrounded by nature and history, and it has been developed from the old railway lines linking the towns of Murcia and Caravaca de la Cruz. A 78km distance with deserted settings, badlands, mountains, pines and almond trees...
TRADITIONAL STREET MARKETS
Two of the most emblematic craftwork street markets in the region take place in the Northwest: El Zacatín in Bullas and El Mesoncico in Cehegín. The first of this two is celebrated on the first Sunday of every month, being the only one to take place all over the year; it includes traditional exhibitions of old trades. The second one takes place on the last Sunday of every month, except for the summer period.