COSTA CÁLIDA. REGION OF MURCIA CULTURE ON DEMAND
As a result of its intense historical tradition, the reiterative superposition of cultures, its strategic location as a Mediterranean enclave and its transitional character as a border territory mid-way between the Meseta and Andalusia, the Murcia Region retains innumerable vestiges of the past, making it an ideal meeting-point where History and tradition have been instilled with new life and placed at the visitor's disposal.
Murcia, capital city of the Autonomous Region, on the banks of the Segura, Cartagena, a port fronting on the Mediterranean, Lorca, the town of a Hundred Coats of Arms, and Caravaca de la Cruz, the Holy Town, will furnish all the reasons a visitor needs to choose them any time of the year for a holiday or just a short stay.
Do you want to be inspired?
In a region where parties are held every month of the year, it's more than likely that your visit will coincide with at least one of them, and if not, there is bound to be a festival. Music, theatre, dance... whatever takes your fancy, we have something for you.
In Murcia, the Holy Week typically conjures up images of light, diversity, passion and colour. Although it is celebrated differently in every city, there are only three which have been declared of International Touristic Interest: Cartagena, with its organized parades of the Californio and Marrajo brotherhoods, Lorca with its large theatrical productions and Pasos spectacular (street processions retelling the Passion of Christ), and Murcia with the beauty of its Salzillo sculptures and local produce. These are the most popular locations for the regions' celebrations.
CABALLOS DEL VINO FESTIVAL
Caballos del Vino is one of the most outstanding, yet deafening festivals in Spain. The sound of the horses galloping, the beauty of the embroidered cloaks, the music, and the thousands of people dressed in white and red, transform the city every 2nd of May. The race is considered the most important event within the Fiestas de la Vera Cruz de Caravaca, which also include Moorish and Christian celebrations. If you want to blend in like a true local, don't forget to wear a red handkerchief around your neck.
Murcia welcomes in the spring by hosting a variety of festivals and parties. The most important days, which have been declared of National Touristic Interest, are undoubtedly Bando de la Huerta which takes place on the Tuesday, and Entierro de la Sardina, on the Saturday. During Bando de la Huerta locals and visitors alike dress up in typical huertano costumes, (those historically associated with agricultural workers), and flock to the streets to make the most of the parties; the day culminates in a great traditional parade. The Entierro de la Sardina Festival sees dozens of floats filter through the streets distributing thousands of toys to all the children. A spectacular parade leads the floats, filling the streets with the magic of the Carnival and all of the incredible colourful outfits.
LA MAR DE MÚSICAS FESTIVAL
La Mar de Músicas Festival kick starts in Cartagena during July, featuring artists from every corner of the planet. Throughout more than two weeks the city celebrates the individuality of other cultures through their music, choosing a different guest country every year. The festivals' stages are strategically placed throughout the city, so you can not only enjoy the performances and culture, but do so with the most beautiful views of the Mediterranean.
In May, Murcia hosts WARM, considered one of the most popular festivals among young people in Spain. The show offers 48 hours of non-stop music and contemporary art, turning the La Fica showground each year into a multi-use space ready for some of the biggest acts to perform.
The International Jazz Festival, which takes place in San Javier each July, is considered to be one of the best jazz festivals in Spain. With performances from some of the biggest stars in the jazz world, concerts are held throughout the entire month. What better way to enjoy your summer than by experiencing the best music, live and in open air, just minutes away from the sea?
CANTE DE LAS MINAS FESTIVAL
Every August the town of La Unión hosts one of the most important flamenco competitions in the world. Here, the most renowned dancers alternate their performances with those competing for the Lámpara Minera singing award, which descends upon the modernist setting of the Antiguo Mercado Público (Old Public Market) and the Agrupa Vicenta mine. It is a truly magical space to enjoy the show, as much for experts in the field, as for amateurs alike.
CARTHAGINIANS AND ROMANS FESTIVAL
As if it were the set from a blockbuster movie, the Carthaginian and Roman Festival transforms this port city during the month of September into a spectacular scene from the Segunda Guerra Púnica. Throughout the year thousands of revellers plan the festival carefully, which consists of ship landings, , gladiator fights, chariot races and a great battle which finishes off with the conquest of Qart Hadast at the hands of General Escipión.
If you love to party, fireworks, fantasy, and fancy dress you cannot miss the Águilas Carnival. Experience some of the craziest days of your life at one of the most spectacular carnivals in Spain. The festival, declared of National Touristic Interest, invades the streets of the small town with fantasy, music, dance and quirky costumes for two weeks. It is particularly well known for the battle between Don Carnal and Doña Cuaresma, as well as the Cuerva (traditional fruit and alcohol based drink) contest. However, equally as special is its street procession; a seemingly never ending selection of groups take part in their colourful and spectacular carnival costumes.
LA PURÍSIMA DE YECLA FESTIVAL
La Purísima de Yecla Festival recreates an atmosphere that will transport you back to times of the 17th Century military shows. A deafening display of arquebus and drums announce the arrival of one hundred tiraores (shooters), kitted out in dress coats and bicornio (an archaic form of hat widely adopted in the 1790s by military and naval officers). This celebration, declared of National Touristic Interest, is steeped in more than 350 years of history and takes place every December in honour of the Virgen Del Castillo and appreciation for the safe return of all the people of Yecla who went to fight in the War of Succession.
Music from around the world, art in every form, stories from ancient Rome, curiosities and legends, and even great treasures. All of these experiences await you in the museums of the Region of Murcia; prepare yourself to discover them.
The Salzillo Museum is the most important museum in the city of Murcia. Located in a space which combines both the modernity of a 20th Century building with the Barroque style of the 16th Century Iglesia de Jesús, it hosts the most complete and important collection from this wonderful Murcian sculptor. The Pasos de Semana Santa (scenes of the Passion of Christ) is just as important as La Última Cena (The Last Supper) or La Oración del Huerto (Christ's prayer in the garden), the famous 556 piece nativity scene entrusted to the artist by the marquis of Riquelme, as well as an interesting collection of original sketches which stand out among the exhibits.
The National Museum of Sub-Aquatic Archaeology, ARQUA, is home to the famous treasure found within the frigate Nuestra Señora de la Mercedes, which was extracted from the seabed by the treasure hunting team Odyssey. The booty consists of no more and no less than 570,000 18th and 19th Century gold and silver coins. Although they might not be considered quite so high profile, but equally as valuable, find many other treasures here. Why not go and discover these at your own pace so you can finish your visit with a trip to one of the restaurants found in the port or in the fishing quarter of Santa Lucía?
Found in Murcia's centrally located Avenida Alfonso X el Sabio, the emblematic Monasterio de Clausura de Santa Clara La Realpublicly displays the best collection of Islamic art in the region, and the rich historical and artistic heritage of the nuns of St. Clare. The pieces in the collection are of great interest as much for their antiquity, some deriving from the 11th Century, as for their variety of styles; they range from the Islamic period to the Baroque. The monastery is a haven of peace, silence and seclusion found right in the very heart of the city.
LIFE IN ROME
The Roman Theatre Museum is undoubtedly the most recognised symbol of the city of Cartagena. It is a fascinating architectural complex designed by Rafael Moneo within which each room is more spectacular than the last. It combines the Pascual Riquelme Palace, the Santa Maria la Vieja Church and, as you reach the final corridor and come to the most impressive stop of the tour, the Roman Theatre. Did you know? The Carthago Nova theatre, built by Emperor Augusto in the first Century BC, was in fact only discovered in 1990.
In the Barranda Museum of Ethnic Music you can find around 1,000 musical instruments of all periods and continents. Despite being located in the Caravacan village of Barranda which has less than 900 inhabitants, and built on the remains of a 19th Century flour mill, this museum would be a delight to any capital city worldwide.
Within Don Pepe Marsilla House Museum in Bullas you will find that time has frozen still to the year 1900. The frescoes, trompe l'oeil, and other modernist features of the residential wing compete to be just as spectacular as the working wing and winery. Visit the museum as part of the Bullas wine tour, or, if you prefer to take your time and visit independently, pre book a visit directly with the Wine Museum.
CRAFTMANSHIP AND EMBROIDERY
Fancy an alternative way of experiencing the magic of the Holy Week? Get to know the embroidery museums of the Azul, Blanco, Encarnado and Morado brotherhoods first hand and all year round,the works of art that Lorca's embroiderers create with their bare hands, and relive the greatest moments of this incredible celebration through the brotherhoods' audio visuals.
A UNIVERSAL ARTIST
In Blanca, in the heart of Ricote Valley, find the Pedro Cano Museum home to a collection of works from this brilliant Murcian artist. The space, in which a total of 2000 drawings are exhibited, will undoubtedly pleasantly surprise you, an unexpected delight for lovers of beauty, peace and equality.
The Museo de la Santa y Vera Cruz (The Holy True Cross Museum) is located inside the Caravaca's Basilica and is home to invaluable metal work and paintings, such as 16th Century oil works. It also contains original pieces from Hernando de los Llanos, a scholar of Leonardo de Vinci and Rafael Tegeo, and undoubtedly one of the best portrait painters of the 19th Century. The museum also boasts a range of gold and silver-smith work such as the Custodia-Ostensorio de la Cruz and the Casulla de Chirimos, as well as visits to its dungeon!
An emblem of the area of Mula, La Casa Pintada, a beautiful palacial home constructed in the year 1770, is nowadays referred to as the Centro de Interpretación del Arte Contemporáneo (Centre of Interpretation and Contemporary Art) in which more than 150 pieces, both sculptures and paintings from the famous local artist Cristóbal Gabarrón, are displayed. The building has a typical Spanish Levante style with a square shaped floor plan based over 3 storeys, a central tower, and a highly recommendable winery.
A trip to Murcia is incomplete without a visit to at least one of these monuments. Find curiosities and secrets hidden within which will no doubt leave you with a lasting impression of our region. After all, you cannot come to Murcia without learning a bit about our history!
Not only is it the most important church in all of Murcia, the cathedral is also one of the most recognised symbols of the region. Steeped in more than 600 years of history and constructed on the site of the oldest mosque in the city, the cathedral is composed of a range of architectural styles, varying from Gothic, to Renaissance, to the perhaps grander Baroque. Explore the museum, clime the tower, contemplate its main façade and visit the Velez and Junterón chapels. Insider tip: the heart of King Alfonso X El Sabio is kept in an urn on the Altar Mayor.
Acting as a key meeting point for Murcia social life since the 19th Century, a visit to this emblematic building set in the heart of Murcia is a delight for lovers of elegance. Found slap bang in the middle of Calle Trapería, nowadays it has been converted into a dynamic centre for culture and coexistence. You cannot miss the dance hall inspired by the style of Luis XV.
THE ROMAN THEATRE
Undoubtedly the most recognised symbol of Cartagena, find the Roman Theatre at the last stop of the fantastic museum tour. The building was designed by the architect Rafael Moneo and combines the Pascual Riquelme palace and the old cathedral of Santa María. The Carthago Nova Theatre, constructed for Emperor Augusto in the 1st Century AC, has a capacity of 6,000 spectators, and was in fact only discovered by chance in 1987.
BARRIO DEL FORO ROMANO
If you love a trip back in time, a chance to relive history and to put yourself in the shoes of previous successors, you will be a child at play in the Foro Romano (Roman Forum) of the ancient Carthago Nova theatre. It is an absolute privilege to be able to visit this site which remained hidden underground for more than 20 centuries; take note of the hot spring complex and the main atrium. If you pay a visit with all the family, you must stay for an in-house performance.
THE FORTRESS OF THE SUN
This impressive medieval castle is considered to be the oldest landmark in Lorca. The venue, which housed Muslims, Christians and Jews for centuries, is now a themed space. In its Jewish quarter take the opportunity to visit the only synagogue in Spain which was not subsequently converted into a Church and see its remains as it stands today, almost untouched since the Jews of the 15th Century used it to pray.
EX COLLEGIATE CHURCH OF SAN PATRICIO
This Renaissance-style building with a cathedral-like appearance is without a doubt the most important ecclesiastic space in all of Lorca. It is the only church under the patronage of San Patricio, in remembrance of the victory against the Muslims in the Battle of Alporchones which took place the day of the festivity of this saint. It is an essential part of Lorca's heritage, known for its architectural beauty and historical significance. If you want to know more about its Ex-collegiate status, delve into its history.
BASILICA OF CARAVACA
Undoubtedly this is the heart of Caravaca and the core of a fortress which once belonged to the Order of the Temple and later to that of Santiago. Protected by a wall flanked with 14 turrets of distinct form and size, the basilica is home to the Santísima y Vera Cruz, a revered 18th Century relic within which fragments from the Cross upon which Christ died are safeguarded.
This castle, strong>declared a National Monument and ordered to be built in 1461 by the Marquis of Villena upon an old Muslim fortification, is today an example of restoration and is now a popular cultural site. To get there simply cross the Camino del Subidor, a natural viewpoint which will reward you with one of the most amazing panoramic views of the region. The visit will bring you to the dungeons, the military room, the governor's room, the supplies room, the parade ground, the cistern, the Maestre's tower and the ruins of an old flour mill.
VIRGEN DE LA ESPERANZA
The sanctuary of the Virgen de la Esperanza of Calasparra is unusual in that it is located in the inside of a cave, in a setting of extraordinary natural beauty along the River Segura. The inside of the 17th Century temple, which is carved out of stone, is home to two images of the Virgen de la Esperanza known as La Pequeñica, found by a shepherd in one of the caves, and La Grande. It is a popular site with visitors due to its peace, calm and tranquillity.
The castle is one of the most important points in Moratalla's urban landscape. The original Islamic structure was erected in the 9th Century on the site of Neolithic and Iberian remains, constituting a crucial site in the defense of Al-Andalus. In the 15th Century the Order of Santiago reconstructed it. Nowadays, and between its 6 towers, the gothic-style Torre del Homenaje stands out as well as its military art, where including in its great room, the cistern and arms room. Guided tours of the inside of the castle are available.
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