Travelling inland the Region allows to enjoy some sights that shouldn’t be missed at all when visiting the area: we have selected 8 of the best itineraries for those of you wanting to go beyond the main tourist hubs.
ALHAMA’S BATHS & CASTLE
The beautiful town of Alhama, entrance to the Guadalentín Valley, traditionally one of the main outposts in the way from Murcia Region to Andalucia, has two unmistakeable highlights: its roman baths, later reused by Moors, and its fortress, actually part of a quite effective medieval communication system in frontier territory, such as this land was by then. The latter, first erected by local muslims, was later rebuilt by Christians once they reconquered the area by the 13th century. The municipality has invested meaningful amounts of money to restore the remains recently, and the stroll up allows to enjoy really stunning sights from top of its watchtower. Each one of both monuments deserves a visit alone but, altogether, they make a really worthwhile tour.
LORCA CITY OF THE SUN
Legend has it that in ancient times two Trojan princes founded Lorca, the so called City of Sun, but Muslims were the ones actually giving it its distinctive look. Built by the slope of a hill crowned with a medieval fortress still standing on top, strolling thru its old quarters means enjoying an array of different styles, from moorish walls to huge renaissance churches and magnificent baroque town houses. Our Walking Tour will first take you to the open public space of Plaza España, which has a monumental ensemble very difficult to forget, presided by the only cathedral consecrated to Saint Patrick existing today in Spain, and then to the museum which shows the incredible embroideries woven by local women to be worn in its sumptuous Easter Parades, even be entering their workshop to see at first hand their techniques. The whole day long Pick-Up Tour will also include a visit to its impressive castle.
CARAVACA: HOLY CITY TOUR
Caravaca is, together with Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela and Potes (also in Spain) one of the 5 Holy Cities in the Catholic Faith. Pilgrims from all over the world come here to worship the Holy Cross of Caravaca, a true relic of that cult still venerated in an outstanding sanctuary built for that purpose on top of a pointed hill. But the interest of this city it’s not only religious as, being located at the border between Muslim and Christian medieval kingdoms, it played a main role in the struggle that both sides held during the Spanish Reconquest, that came to an end with the fall of Granada in 1492. This tour follows the so-called Northwest Trail to that town, for you to get to know all of its medieval heritage, from Renaissance churches to baroque facades, and, most of all, about its legends mainly related to the Cross and to the famous local festivities, los Caballos del Vino (Wine Horses).
RICOTE: SECRET MOORISH VALLEY
Just 30 minutes away from Murcia City lies the best- kept secret in the Region, that of the Ricote Valley, a stunningly beautiful valley carved by the Segura River in the stone of the sharp local mountains; a location that became the secret hide out for Muslims after being defeated by Christians in medieval times, and whose scenery they shaped after them, creating a half farming, half garden environment locally known as la Huerta. The mixture of green fruit trees, palm trees and their deep contrast with the arid hills in the background makes the Ricote Valley one of the most picturesque areas in Spain. Our tour includes stops by the largest water wheel in Europe (Abarán); an amazing vantage point for the main reservoir in the area (Blanca); the cozy village of Ojós and, finally, by the town giving its name to the valley, Ricote, with its gorgeous-looking baroque church.
ORIHUELA, INLAND PEARL
This tour mainly consists of a very pleasant stroll through the old quarters of the monumental Orihuela, a city that, although belonging to Alicante province, is located at the end of the flat valley run by the Segura River, where Murcia lies. Local heritage is actually a showcase of the different artistic styles prevailing in the area through history, the route including visits to the following sites: Santo Domingo College (one of the first Universities in Spain); El Salvador Cathedral (the smallest one in our country); Santa Justa y Rufina church, with its impressive belltower; Santiago church (which hides a secret on its gorgeous gothic façade), and last but not least, we will be able to see a wooden carving depicting a female devil!!! (an icon in the local Easter Parades, known as La Diablesa). An unique chance to learn about all the stories and legends that make this small city so distinctive!
MULA AND ITS RURAL BAROQUE
Among the different towns existing along the Northwest Trail, Mula is one of the most interesting, mainly because of its 18th century baroque town-houses which belonged to the local Hidalgos (lesser nobles) and its location under the shade of a quite impressive renaissance castle built by a powerful local noble to frighten the population. During the route you will also have access to the very attractive churches in town, one of them lying inside an enclosure nuns’ convent, whose gates will be open for us. Do you dare to enter? Tour will be completed with a visit to the nearby village of Baños de Mula, where you will have the chance of enjoying the very distinctive scenery of the area, exactly looking like the Mideast.
MOORISH WATCHTOWERS TOUR
Moorish rulers that lived in the area during more than 400 years -from the early 9th century to the middle 13th century- built a communication system consisting of several watchtowers spread from the coastline to inland, and some of them, still standing, can be visited. They are the ones remaining in Alhama and Aledo; two charming small towns in the main access from Murcia to Andalucía and in the vicinity of Sierra Espuña, the impresive mountainous area in the Region, that adds quite a high scenic attractive to the tour. The route allows to learn the whole history of the medieval conflict between Moors and Christians in South Spain, providing spectacular views in both sites. Another highlight of the tour will be an additional stop to behold some impressive religious frescoes preserved in the main Totana’s hermitage, lying just in-between both watchtowers.