Murcia has a lot more to offer than sun, sea, sand and golf – Here is a brief look at four of Murcia’s Cities
Unbeknown to many, the capital city of Murcia is a wonderful place, which enjoys a rich mixture of ancient and modern cultures. It is a city which boasts flamboyantly modern buildings which sit comfortably alongside such outstanding historic monuments as the Teatro Romea, the Cathedral and the Bishop’s palace. The Moorish and Jewish quarters in the old town are well worth a visit. Murcia city has a certain buzz about it with a busy cultural agenda as well as some of the finest restaurants in the country. The Murcia region is known as the vegetable garden of Spain and its abundance of fresh produce takes pride of place in many of the delicious local dishes on offer such as zarangollo (a sort of rough scrambled egg with spring onions and courgette), paparajotes (crispy battered lemon leaves) or a simple Bonito (salt cured) con Tomate dish (Bonito is a blue fish not unlike skipjack tuna).
This city is one of the most seductive of the Mediterranean and has long been a central link between Africa and Europe. The Teatro Romano built between 5 and 1BC and discovered in 1988 is the greatest symbol of Cartagena along with its spectacular museum. And if your interest is museums, why not drop in at the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology and have a look at the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes frigate. One of the main festivals of the city is the weeklong Carthaginians and Romans Fiesta which takes place in September. For typical cuisine of Cartagena, try the ‘Michirones’ bean with ham and chorizo stew or a ‘Caldero’, which is a traditional soupy rice dish made with local fish.
Lorca is also known as the “City of the Sun” and is home to the greatest concentration of Medieval Renaissance and Baroque monuments in the Murcia region. Its fortress is the most prominent of these. Today the fortress houses the new Parador. This hotel has been carefully developed within the ancient Jewish Quarter where one can find the only ancient synagogue in Spain never to be used by other religions. Some of the least spoilt beaches and coves are to be found on the coast near Lorca. If you wish to sample some of the local cuisine, try some ‘picardías’ (an almond based dessert) or the ‘tortada’ almond cake.
Caravaca de la Cruz
The city of Caravaca de la Cruz is probably not one that springs to mind when one thinks of visiting Spain. It is, however, one of the five holy cities of the world, formerly held by the Knight Templar and pilgrims visit from all over the world. The narrow winding streets of the old town are towered over by the Basilica where within the Cross of Caravaca are fragments of the Cross on which Christ died. Nearby Fuentes del Marqués is one of the most spectacular natural parks in Murcia and the beautiful Cazorla park is not too far from here. Winters can be cold in Caravaca de la Cruz so one of their traditional ‘potages’ (stews) or a ‘tartera’ (a dish of roast lamb and potato with alioli sauce can be most welcome.