For lovers of historical places, Cartagena is a dream. Carthago Nova, as The Romans renamed it after the conquest, became an official colony of the Roman state in 54 BC. The Romans developed the town with the aim to design the city in the image of Rome. A city with a rich history that goes back 2.500 years and that s proud of its cultural heritage, it has a lot to offer to the curious visitor. We name here but a few;
The Roman Theatre
The large theatre with space for 6000 people that was built in 44 BC, is a shining example of Roman architecture. Almost entirely built in the rock of the hillside, it is one of the most interesting sites in Cartagena that was discovered by accident in 1990. It is situated opposite the town hall palace, that in itself is worth a visit. There is an archaeological museum on site and guided tours are on offer.
Where: Plaza de Ayuntamiento, 30202 Cartagena
Opening times: 1st May – 30th September + Holy Week
Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am – 8.00pm
1st October – 30th April
Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am – 6.00pm
All Sundays 10.00am – 2.00pm
Roman Forum District (Barrio del Foro Romano)
About 10 years ago during excavations, a complete block of Roman buildings, formed by a baths complex and Atrium building, both from the 1st century, was discovered on the south side of the Cerro del Molinete.
The visitor can wander through the peristyle of the Roman baths with the original herring-bone style flooring, as well as the Atrium building with its 4 metres high walls and decorations, where ritual banquets for the gods Isis and Serapis were celebrated.
Where: Calle Honda 11, 30201 Cartagena
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday 10.00am – 7.00pm
Battery of Castillitos
There are many military places of interest in Cartagena, as it has always been a naval city, the Castillitos with the two enormous 381mm Vickers Guns is one of them. Situated at Cabo Tiñosa, between Cartagena and Mazarrón, these batteries are well worth a visit, if only for the beautiful scenery and eccentric architecture.
There is no entrance fee, personnel, nor any facilities on site. The road uphill to the fortress can be challenging, as it is narrow with some blind bends and steep drops, best avoided on days with rains and hard winds.
The site is not recommended for people with disabilities, and families with young children have to be particularly careful.
Where: Cabo Tiñosa, Campillo de Adentro
Erosions of Bolnuevo
When speaking of historical places, the Erosions of Bolnuevo just outside Puerto de Mazarrón comes to mind. Strong sea winds carrying sand and salt water have battered the coastal rock over millions of years, resulting in these bizarre limestone sculptures. During the summer months, they are regularly used as a dramatic backdrop for concerts and shows.
They are situated within a half hours’ drive from the Battery of Castillitos, on the far end of the Bolnuevo beach.
Where: Bolnuevo beach
The emir of Córdoba founded ‘Mursiya’ in the year 825 and made good use of the river Segura, that runs from west to east through the town, to develop an irrigation system that benefited the agriculture of the whole area. Murcia has known prosperous times, which is visible in its historical buildings.
Constructed on the remains of the Great Mosque, as was the custom after the Reconquest, the Cathedral Church of Santa Maria of Murcia has a blend of architectural styles, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical, while the interior is mainly Gothic. It took from 1388 until 1467 to finish the church and the tower took 200 years to complete.
After a big fire in 1854 when a good part of the interior was destroyed, the bishop of Cartagena ordered a new organ for the cathedral, the Great Organ from Merklin & Schütze that is still in use.
Where: Plaza del Cardenal Belluga, 1, 30001 Murcia
Tuesday to Saturday:
7.00am – 1.00pm and 5.00pm – 8.00pm
Monday, Sunday and Bank Holidays:
7.00am – 1.00pm and 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Casino of Murcia
The Royal Casino of Murcia first opened as an exclusive men’s club in 1847. Every part of it breathes the grandeur of times gone by, like the magnificent ballroom with the spectacular chandeliers, the English-style library with over 20.000 books, the beautiful Moorish patio, the astonishing lady’s dressing room with the ceiling fresco’s, the Pompeian patio and the billiard room with its geometric wooden decorations and inner courtyard. It is one of the most interesting buildings to visit in Murcia.
Where: C/ Trapería 18, 30001 Murcia
Entrance: Adults €5 – Children €3
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10.30am – 7.00pm
In August: Monday to Saturday 10.30am – 2.30pm
Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Fuensanta
This little gem, the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Fuensanta on the edge of the Carrascoy y El Valle Regional Park, just south of Murcia capital, is a popular destination among the Murcianos. Legend has it that a spring appeared after the Virgin Mary manifested on the spot, hence the name of the sanctuary, Fuensanta, meaning Holy Spring.
The sanctuary was built in the 17th century after the apparition but the area has been a place of spiritual importance and worship since ancient times. Inside you will find a stunning altarpiece decorated with gold leaf that is dominated by a sculpture of the Virgin. Twice a year, for Easter and for the Patron’s Day in September, the Virgin is brought out in procession, accompanied by thousands of the faithful, to the Cathedral in Murcia.
Where: Calle Mayor, Algezares, 30157 Murcia
Monday – Sunday: 9.00am – 1.00pm and 4.00pm – 6.30pm
From 1st July to 15th September, closure at 7:00pm
The area of Lorca has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, as archaeological digs have revealed. During the Roman time it was called Elicroca, it is situated right on the Via Augusta Roman Road that crossed 1.500 km of ancient Hispania, the direct road to Rome.
Many wars have been fought in Lorca, between Moors and Visigoths and later between Christians and Moors, and its population has suffered under plagues, droughts, floods.
Castle of Lorca
Also known as the Fortress of the Sun, the castle which was first mentioned in Muslim reports from the 9th century, is strategically perched on a hill overlooking the Guadalentin River valley and the city of Lorca. After the Reconquest in 1244 it was mostly rebuilt, leaving little traces of the original Moorish Alcazaba. When the Moors and Jews were expelled in 1492, the castle was abandoned, and had fallen into ruins by the 18th century.
In 2003, the remains of the Jewish Quarter and Synagogue, formed by 12 houses with a synagogue in the centre, were discovered inside the walls of the fortress. These date back to the 14th century. It is a unique find, the only medieval synagogue in Murcia that not has been replaced by a Christian church, as was the custom after the Reconquest.
Nowadays, the fortress is a themed cultural centre where history can be explored through expositions, guided tours, workshops and other activities.
Where: Castillo de Lorca, 30800 Lorca
Entrance: €10 – for the castle and synagogue
Monday to Friday 10.30am – 5.30pm
Weekends and holidays 10.30am – 6.30pm
Caravaca de la Cruz
Caravaca de la Cruz lies 75 km northwest from Murcia and is the Fifth Holy City of the Catholic Church. Because of the famous holy relic, the Holy True Cross, there are many monuments, monasteries and museums, all well worth a visit. In the autumn, we recommend you to pass some leisure time in natural park Las Fuentes del Marqués to enjoy the autumn colours and visit the Tower of the Templar Knights, just outside the town.
The Vera or Holy True Cross Sanctuary
The Basílica de la Vera Cruz sits on a top of the hill behind the city within the walls of the so-called Alcazaba, a Moorish fortification. The Basílica dates from the 17th century and its history is inextricably linked with the Vera Cross that is displayed in its own Sanctuary, built within the church.
Legend goes, that in 1232, when Murcia was still under Muslim rule and thousands of Christians were imprisoned, a Christian missionary was captured and taken to the Muslim king of Caravaca. The king demanded him to demonstrate a Holy Mass according to his beliefs so the king could see with his own eyes what it entailed. When the missionary noticed that a crucifix, was not present on the altar, the room was suddenly bathed in bright light and two angels appeared, carrying a cross, which they placed on the altar. The Muslim king fell on his knees and converted to Christianity. This is why each year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims find their way to Caravaca. The annual celebration of this miracle is from May 1st to 4th starting with a Holy Mass on the first evening followed by a unique event, the ‘Racing of the Wine Horses’ on the second day, opening the celebrations.
Monday to Saturday 8.30am – 2.30pm and 4.30pm – 7.30pm
Sunday, Holidays 10.00am – 2.00pm and 4.30pm – 7.00pm
Monday to Friday 8.00am – 2.00pm and 4.30pm – 9.00pm
Weekend, Holidays 10.00am – 2.00pm and 4.30pm – 9.00pm