The North West of Murcia, Spain, is mountainous with an almost lunar landscape in parts. The main towns in the region are Caravaca de la Cruz, Moratalla, Cehegín and Calasparra and are all covered in the free mappa map of this beautiful region.
Caravaca de la Cruz (or more commonly Caravaca) is a beautiful medieval (12th and 13th century) town, with many historic, traditional properties in the old quarter.
Narrow streets and alleys lead towards the castle, built in the 15th century and commissioned by the Knights Templar. Parking is a nightmare, park wherever you can find a space and walk – the mappa map is great for just this scenario! Once out and about, you’ll quickly find a number of museums, such as Museo Sacro de la Vera Cruz (religious artefacts), Museo de los Festejos and also Museo Arqueológico. A handsome ensemble of medieval and Renaissance mansions and churches are clustered in the old town. Up the hill, you’ll find the most photographed church in the area, El Santuario de Vera Cruz, with a pink marble façade. The church houses the cross used in the Easter celebrations, Semana Santa.
Calasparra is 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 the Arab castle, Castillo de San Juan, off Plaza de la Constitución. Getting to the castle is easy, go on foot from the centre of town along a stepped and landscaped street. It’s currently being renovated. One of the most visited highlights of the region is the Santuario de la Esperanza, located six kilometres northwest of the city in Lomas de la Virgin. It’s a beautiful location overlooking the River Segura, with well tended gardens and monumental arches.
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. Begastri, The Lost City, is an archaeological site on the hill Cabecico Roenas 3km away from the centre of Cehegín.
As you approach Moratalla from the east you will be greeted with a magnificent skyline with the castle, church and sprawling mosaic of rooftops spilling down the mountainside.
Being an ancient town of Arab origin the old quarter is a warren of narrow streets and whitewashed houses with balconies that almost touch, overflowing with flowers. The farola, the three pronged street lamp in the centre of town is a great meeting place. The town is capped by a castle with excellent views to the surrounding countryside and forest. It makes a great base for walking, climbing and cycling. It is the most mountainous zone in the Murcia region with 20 peaks that exceed 1400metres, with the highest of 2027m to the tip of the Revolcadores. There is snow on the mountains (and sometimes in the town itself) in the wintertime and the weather is warm but a welcome few degrees cooler than the coast in summer. The Alharabe and Benamor rivers pass through the area, making it a very popular spot for fishing.
And of course, this part of Murcia is famous for its wine and rice!
If you want a printed guide for the whole region of Murcia then get Going Native In Murcia:
Or you can buy the Going Native In Murcia book for your kindle or ebook reader from the same page.