Sur Murcia et Alicante

It lies just south of Alicante and has a long coastline of fine sandy beaches known as the Costa Calida or ‘warm coast’. There is Mar Menor, Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon and a great attraction for water sport enthusiasts. The thin piece of land that separates the lagoon from the Med is called the La Manga del Mar Menor which is popular because of its warm shallow water and excellent golfing facilities.

Inland there are several towns which still preserve their medieval structures. The capital of the province is Murcia with its impressive city walls and Moorish history. It stands on the banks of a river and is described as one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.

But the biggest attraction of the region is its affordable accommodation, and it is further inland that you can find the real bargains.

Murcia still rates as one of the cheapest places to buy property in Spain, and that’s because until recently it has been relatively difficult to get to. But a new motorway has just been built from Alicante to Murcia, and there are now regular low budget flights between Murcia and the rest of Europe. In addition, Corvera International Airport will be operational from 2009 with 1.5 million passengers expected in its first year.

Such developments have improved access to the area, increasing the number of tourists, which in turn has boosted rental demand and as a result pushed up property prices. In 2004 properties appreciated by around 27% in the region so it’s no wonder that they are being quickly purchased by savvy investors looking for short term returns.

MURCIA – THE REGION AND SOME PRINCIPAL INFORMATION

We are adding to this section all of the time, and we are experts on the region of Murcia. If you require information or advice regadring Murcia please let us know.



ÁGUILAS

Population: 28,000

This southwestern city near the Murcian coast has an arid and mountainous landscape, extensive beaches with crystalline cliffs and small, little frequented coves. The hill where the Castle of San Juan of the Águilas is based (century XVIII) was a refuge to a population afraid of pirate attacks.

To see the natural splendour of the region is the main reason for visiting. Tranquil beaches with fine sand, huge cliffs and beautiful coves can be found at San Pedro, Blanca and Los Hierros.

For more information visit www.aguilas.org

Girasol Homes have many properties and developments for sale in this area, please visit our website or contact us for the best opportunities here.

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ALHAMA DE MURCIA

Population: 16,400

The Arabs built a castle to defend Alhama (which the Arabs called Alhamman) where the thermal waters made famous by the Romans can be found. Today Alhama is a city with fruit in the valleys and pines on the mountains lying at the foothills of the Sierra Espuña.

The Ayuntamiento is an early 20th century building in the Plaza de la Constitución. There are a number of parks in the centre near the ancient house, Casa De La Familia Saavedra. Nearby is the Iglesia de la Concepción, which is a Baroque church restored in the 18th century In Plaza Vieja at the end of Calle Larga there are some 19th century stately houses with brightly coloured facades and the old town hall, which houses the museum (open week days – closed for siesta).

You can go up to the Arab castle using side streets off Calle Vergara. In the same area you will find the baroque Iglesia de san Lázaro. Also nearby you’ll find the famous bathhouses of the town.

Nearby is the largest project of Polaris World, Condado de Alhama the super resort of 3 Nicklaus Golf Courses, with over 10000 properties planned to be built with an oasis town centre and many 5 star facilities. Girasol is expert with this developer and understands the complexities of investing here, and in the local areas.

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ARCHENA & BALNEARIO ARCHENA

Population: 15,000

Archena can be found on the last natural part of the Río Segura, before it heads into the city (Murcia). Archena is used as a base for visiting the Balneario de Archena and also for walks and excursions up the Valle De Ricote.

Balneario is based about 2km from the centre of Archena, where there are a number of hotels and pleasant walks along the Rio de Segura. The thermal baths at Balneario have therapeutic properties, with temperatures around 50º c.

BOLNUEVO
Population: 260

An up market seaside resort near Puerto Mazarrón. Bolneuvo has one of the most recognisable landmarks of Murcia – the weathered sandstone formation that adorns most of the region’s brochures and tourist guides. Following the coast road to the south west brings you to miles of beautiful and often secluded coves and beaches, including a number of nudist spots. The road is very narrow and pitted so keep your wits about you as it’s mostly only wide enough for one car. Carrying on further towards Águilas, you reach Punta Calnegre, where there are more organised beaches, with a family orientation. These are best reached by car from the Mazarrón – Águilas road.

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BULLAS

Population: 11,000

Bullas is one of the five regions which makes up the area called Comarca del Noroeste – the natural access to the north east of the region. The first Sunday of every month on Plaza Vieja (until lunchtime) there is a comprehensive market, selling not only the usual fare of fruit, vegetables but also local arts and crafts, including ceramics and wood carvings.

Their fiesta is in October, starting the night of the Friday before the first Sunday of October and finishing on the following Tuesday. There is also a fiesta on the 17th January, San Antón (La Copa).

Go to www.bullas.net for more information.

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CALASPARRA

Population: 9,300

Santuario-Virgen-de-la-Esperanza
Noted for its excellent rice growing, which is due to the proximity of the rivers Segura, Quípar and Argos. In the centre of town you can find the remains of an Arab castle off Plaza de la Constitución. There is an archaeological museum in the old Palace House of La Encomienda, there are a number of old churches such as Iglesia de la Merced, Iglesia de san Pedro (18th century) and Iglesia de los Santos (18th century).

Calasparra specialities such as rice, sweets and cheeses can be found in Calle Teniente Flomesta. Around Calasparra you can go up to Las Lomas de la Virgen to get a fantastic view of the mountains, the river and the rice fields. Nearby you’ll find the natural reserve of Cañadaverosa. Another nearby beauty spot is Cañón de Los Almadenes. Calasparra has a fiesta of Virgen de la Esperanza which is between the 2nd and 8th of September.

Calasparra Rice
Calasparra rice is the first in the world to have been awarded a “Denominación de Origen” – DOC, which symbolises a guarantee of high quality. The rice is grown in a special environment – both sunny and mountainous, ranging from 340 to 500 metres in altitude, and irrigated with fresh water from the river Segura.

The cultivation uses a unique irrigation system, allowing the fresh water to be continually renewed. The clever use of crop rotation ensures the land is allowed to rest. The traditional seeds (Bomba and Balilla X Sollana) are almost unique to this region and are the only ones ever used. The ripening process takes much longer than with other rice varieties (approx 30% longer) and this natural drying gives the rice a distinctive taste and texture. The grain is especially hard and Calasparra rice needs more water for cooking, which means the rice never sticks together and always looks fluffy! The rice comes in sealed packs, often made from cotton, each one carrying a numbered label issued by the Consejo Regulador, guaranteeing its authenticity and quality. You can buy the rice in most large supermarkets throughout the Murcian region and from shops in Calasparra and surrounds.

Go to http://www.calasparra.org for more information.

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CARAVACA DE LA CRUZ

Population: 23,000

Caravaca de la Cruz is a beautiful medieval (12th and 13th century) town, with many historic, traditional properties in the old quarter. The town has been declared by the Vatican as one of the world’s Holy Cities, along with Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela and Santa Toribio de Liebana, thus giving Spain three out of five.

Narrow streets and alleys lead towards the Arab castle. There are a number of museums, such as Museo Sacro de la Vera Cruz (religious artefacts), Museo de los Festejos and also Museo Arqueológico. Down in the centre of town the main attractions are the Iglesia del Salvador, the monastery at Iglesia de San José and Ermita de san Sebastián (with interesting murals). Around the area you can find the spring at Fuentes de Marqués and various archeological sites at Cueva Negra, Palacia de Armas, Los Villares, Cerro de la Ermitas and Cuevo del Rey Moro. Up the hill, you’ll find the most photographed church in the area, El Santuario de Vera Cruz, with a pink marble facade. The church houses the cross used in the Easter celebrations – Semana Santa. At the beginning of May Caravaca has very famous and popular fiestas – Santísima y Vera Cruz. Book your accommodation well in advance.

Go to www.caravaca.org for more information.

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CEHEGÍN

Population: 14,500

Going due west of Murcia, just before you reach Caravaca and Moratalla, you’ll reach the hilltop town of Cehegín. As with several of its neighbours, Cehegín is a medieval town comprising narrow streets and sand coloured buildings. The town is crowned by the Ermita Purísima Concepción, a 16th century creation. From here you get good views of the town and out towards the valley of the river Argos. There are two fiestas in Cehegín (apart form the usual Easter celebrations) the first being the Muestra de Comercio de Artesanía which is at the end of August. And in September the main town fiesta of La Virgen de Las Maravillas is between the 8th and 14th.

The area has traditionally been an important source of marble, particularly red marble, which is exported as far afield as Japan and Argentina. Agriculture has also been important, with apricot and peach grown on irrigated soils, and olive, almond and vines grown on the drier land. Recent years have seen an increase in the cultivation of flowers under plastic. Much of the local produce is processed in fruit juice and canning facilities in the town.

The name Cehegín is sometimes connected by Spanish antiquaries with that of the Zenaga, Senhaja or Senajeli, a North African tribe, which invaded Spain in the 11th century.

Cehegin has been inhabited since pre Roman times, the original settlement being called Begastri, cave paintings are found in the Peña Rubia a few kilometres outside the town. The Old Town, perched on a hill still has some of the 12th Century fortification such as the « Puerta de Caravaca. » The Archaeological Museum can also be found in the Old Town.

Many conquistadores returned from South America with their riches and built large manorial houses in the Old Town. The Old Town has been revitalised recently by an influx of foreign (mainly British) buyers, who have renovated many of the older properties that were falling into disrepair.

The pilgrimage town of Caravaca de la Cruz is located about 5 minutes west of Cehegin. Access to the town from Murcia was much improved by the construction of the C415 motorway in the late 1990’s.

Go to www.cehegin.com for more details.

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JUMILLA

Population: 22,200

Far off in the north east of the region, as you approach Jumilla you will find the endless acres of vineyards hard to miss! This gives the theme to the whole town, the wine of Jumilla DOC. Overlooking Jumilla is the 15th century castle, which is best seen from the west of the town.

There are many Bodegas and wine shops – there is a strong wine tourist theme. Jumilla is the primary wine–growing region of the whole of Murcia and perhaps the best–known exported wine from the region. Red and rosé wines are particular favourites. The local fiesta, Vendimia, has a strong wine theme too where the catch phrase is “Bebes o Te Mojo” – literally translated as “drink or I’ll soak you”.

Girasol Homes have numerous developments for sale in the region including the 2 x golf course Santa Ana del Monte development and many of the design and build options on large plots.

Santa Ana Del Monte is ideally situated between the mountains of Santa Ana and El Carche, creating a peaceful setting with excellent views. The resort includes a variety of property types and sizes from two bed apartments to detached villas, all with access to communal pool areas. Commercial areas feature shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and spas. The two golf courses offer challenges to a wide range of abilities, and with a range of leisure facilities planned including tennis courts and an equestrian centre, the Santa Ana del Monte, is the perfect resort for all the family.
The Santa Ana development is situated in a region which retains a traditional Spanish feel, but is located within easy reach of tourist areas such as La Manga, Cartagena, Torrevieja, and Alicante, making it ideal for those who enjoy a quieter lifestyle, but still wish to take advantage of the numerous beaches, nature parks and other regional features.

Go to http://www.jumilla.org for more information.

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LA MANGA

Most Brits who know anything about this region will have heard about La Manga (“the sleeve”), due to its enormous golf course and “housing estate” of the same name.

However La Manga club is somewhat a misnomer as it’s actually south of the true La Manga. The true La Manga is the geographical feature that separates the Mar Menor from the Mediterranean. This heavily developed strip, which is some 21km long and in places only 100m wide, can be seen for tens of kilometres inland. La Manga has a number of pleasant beaches and is in places home to the jet set with a few stunning marinas. The hotels along La Manga are popular with Spaniards and this really was the first area of tourist development in the region.

La Manga can only be reached by car from the south and the spine of La Manga is a busy service road providing access to the hundreds of hotels and holiday flats.

You may walk from La Manga out to the island Isla del Ciervo, where you can get some excellent views of the other islands on the Mar Menor. Girasol have a spectacular development overlooking both seas at the top of La Manga strip.

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LO PAGÁN

Population: 1,500

A seaside town at the northern most cusp of the Mar Menor, with therapeutic mud baths and a long sandy beach, with calm waters which shelve gently. This is the eastern most town on the Murcian coast, on the tip of the Mar Menor. The appeal of this area (coupled with San Pedro del Pinatar) revolves around the salt marshes and man–made ‘pans’ where salt is harvested, now a protected Nature Park. Migrating birds use the marshes as a stop–over and bird–watching is popular. The mineral content of the mud makes it a sought–after remedy or conditioner, especially for the skin, and there are several therapy spas. The towns and beaches themselves combine to form the most popular Mar Menor resort, offering a wide variety of bars and restaurants, plus a good little marina. On the seafront there is a commercial fish market in the Parque del Mar Juán Carlos

Nearby is the regional park of las Salinas, which is home to a variety of protected birds and wild life. On the salt flats you’ll find flamingoes and herons in particular, while you’re bathing on the long sandy beaches. At the northern end of the town (just as it turns into the one way system, near the windmill – called Molino de Quitín) you can take fantastic walks across the Mar Menor, on a recently renovated path. This path creates a dyke, where on the left handside there are mudbaths and on the right the Mar Menor. If you have the stamina you can walk the length of it (several miles) across to the La Manga side, where you’ll find another windmill – called Molino de Calceteras (at Punto de Algas).

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LORCA

Population: 77,500

Lorca is a genteel city just off the main Águilas – Murcia motorway. The town’s most interesting architecture is from the 16th century onwards. Its castle is prominently visible from far off and Lorca forms another portal to the Sierra Espuña. The castle started out as an Islamic fortress between the 8th and 13th centuries and the oldest parts of the castle, the essential water systems, still remain. Today the castle is used for many town activities including fiestas and civic functions.

Lorca’s Easter celebrations are probably the most splendid in Murcia. The local fiesta is on the 8th September for la Virgen de Las Huertas. La Casa de Guevara is a Baroque building belonging to the Guevara family built between 1689 and 1705. There is a beautiful courtyard and wonderful period interior rooms, including a great collection of paintings.

Possibly the most outstanding church in Lorca is La Colegiata de San Patricio, which was built between the 16th and 18th centuries and towers over the central part of town. The Iglesia de San Mateo which was built principally in the 18th and 19th century has a stunning vaulted interior. The town has a number of museums including the Museo de Arqueológico Municipal, there is also an embroidery museum.

One central landmark is the Columna Milenaria which is a Roman milepost from 10 BC from the time of emperor Augustus on which a sculpture of San Vincente was placed in the 15th century.

History

The region around Lorca was already inhabited by the Iberians during the Bronze Age (El Argar culture). Lorca was probably called Eliocroca by the Romans and Lurka by the Arabs. The old part of the town, made up of narrow streets and alley-ways, achieved its present shape under Islamic rule.

During the Reconquista, Lorca was a dangerous border town, caught between the Spanish kingdom of Castile and the Moorish kingdom of Granada. The square tower of homage of the city fortress can be seen from many points of the town. It was named Torre Alfonsina after King Alfonso X of Castile.

Tourist attractions

During the 18th c., a number of baroque churches were built in Lorca. Together with the noble houses in the old town, which are currently being restored, they make up a decent set of historical monuments.

From the 19th c. on, religious processions or marches have been taking place during the Holy Week every year. The processions in Lorca are unique for their atmosphere, a blend of gaiety and devotion. Roman soldiers and quadrigas take turns with baroque statues of saints and with amateurs playing Cleopatra, Nero, the devil and other biblical and historical characters riding floats inspired in ancient locations.

Go to www.ajuntalorca.es for more information.

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LOS ALCÁZARES

Population: 6,000

Central on the west side of the Mar Menor, its name comes from the Arab Al–kazar. The Romans and then later the Arabs used this town as an ideal location for thermal baths. You can still enjoy the benefits of the spas in the hotel La Encarnación. In August (15th – 30th) they have their local fiesta – Semana de la
Huerta – when groups representing market garden areas throughout Spain and other European countries gather to display their folklore, handicrafts and prepare gastronomic feasts from their local produce.

Fiestas are popular here; there’s a week-long fiesta in mid October and
a Medieval one at the end of March. From the port you can get excursions to the Isla Perdiguera which is inside the Mar Menor. On the island there’s a restaurant where you can get grilled sardines. Build up your appetite with some excellent swimming.

Go to www.losalcazares.com for more information.

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MORATALLA

Population: 9,000

Moratalla is an old town of Arab origin with narrow streets, rambling up a steep hillside, off to the northwest of the province. The town is capped by a castle with excellent views to the surrounding countryside and forest. It makes a good base for walking and cycling. In the centre of town on Calle Constitución there’s a 16th – 18th century convent, Convento de San Francisco, with an exhibit room. The fiesta for Moratalla is between the 11th and 17th of July for Cristo del Rayo.

Main economic resources are tourism and agriculture (apricots, almonds, olives and olive oil, wood, barley).

It is chiefly a mountainous and comparatively cool territory (with regard to the region), being snow frequent in the highest zones. It is crossed by minor rivers (Alhárabe, Benamor) which flow into the Segura. There is a main reservoir of the Segura at El Cenajo. Main representatives of the local fauna are wild boars, Spanish Ibex, short-toed eagles and moorish turtles. Wide portions of the municipality are protected in ZEPA (SPA) or LIC areas.

Holy Week in Moratalla

During the Holy Week there is a traditional tamborada, i. e. a collective drumming, which can last the day long. In southern Spain, tamboradas are characteristic of Moratalla as well as of Mula (in Murcia), Hellín and Tobarra (in Albacete). A singularity of Moratalla consists of every tamborista (drummer) being dressed in distinct, hand-made robes. Drums are also traditionally hand-made.

Visit www.moratalla–turismo.com

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MULA

Population: 14,600

Mula is on the river Mula, and is another hillside town topped with a castle (like Moratalla). Many of the streets appear to be pedestrianised..

At the centre of town you’ll find the small park of La Glorieta Juan Carlos I, and around the park is the convent and church of San Francisco. The town also has a museum, Museo de el Cigarralejo, open Tuesdays to Sundays in the mornings. There are a number of churches around town including Iglesia de San Miguel (16th century), Iglesia de Carmen (18th century) and Iglesia de Santo Domingo (16th century). Castillo de los Vélez (the castle on top of the hill) is 16th century and can be reached by footpaths which meander up from the top of town. Local fiestas between the 19th and 25th of September (el Niño de Mula) and also the 15th May for the fiesta of San Isidoro.

Go to www.mulavirtual.net for more information.

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YECLA

Population: 30,900

The northern most town of Murcia is Yecla (96 km north of Murcia). Yecla is one of the three wine producing regions with its own DOC in Murcia (the other two being Bullas and Jumilla). The name Yecla comes from the Arab word Yakka.

Up on the hill you’ll find the Santuario de la Purísima Concepción, which offers great views of the town and surrounding areas. There is also a castle, Castillo de Yecla, from the 14th century. There are many churches in the town. The old town is quite beautiful but rather short on bars, restaurants and cafes.

The principal industry is the manufacture of furniture, with 40 furniture shops along one road alone.

The fiesta of San Isidro is in the middle of May and their Fiesta Patronales is in December.

Go to www.ayuntamientoyecla.com for more information.

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MURCIAN WEATHER

Residents can enjoy the coast practically year–round in Murcia, from the Easter holidays and well into autumn. There are a great variety of water activities, from sailing to windsurfing to water–skiing, scuba diving and kayaking. The average temperature during the year ranges from 12°C in winter to 25°C in summer. The climate is dry, hot in summer and mild in winter. Murcia receives the most sunshine per year in Spain.

The region of Murcia has a typical Mediterranean semi–arid subtropical climate: namely an average annual temperature of 18ºC, with hot summers (registering peak temperatures of 40ºC) and mild winters(with an average temperature of 11ºC in the winter months of December and January).

There are between 120–150 days per year with clear skies and 2,800 hours of sun. Rain is scarce throughout the region (approx. 300–350 mm/year), falling mainly in the spring (April) and autumn (October), leaving the summer dry. However, due to geography, the temperature differences between the coast and the interior are much more extreme in the winter.

On the coast temperatures tend never to fall below 10ºC, while inland at higher altitudes (in the Sierra Espuña for example) they may not exceed 6ºC. Areas at higher altitude also show a higher average annual rainfall, which reaches 600 mm/yr. Refer to our region guides for different areas or ask us for advice.

Rural Sun Properties

Rural Sun Properties