The Murcia government has officially nominated Cehegín for official recognition as one of the World Tourism Organisation’s “Best Tourism Villages”. The objective of this global initiative, under the auspices of the United Nations agency, is “to highlight those villages where tourism preserves cultures and traditions, celebrates diversity, provides opportunities and safeguards biodiversity”.
The UNWTO, which is responsible globally for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, will announce the villages selected for this honour in October. In 2019, Cehegín was voted by visitors to the HomeAway website as a “Rural Wonder of Spain”.
Located in the north-western part of the region, 66 kilometres from Murcia capital city, Cehegín is believed to have been settled during prehistoric times – as evidenced by cave paintings discovered outside the town at Peña Rubia.
Since then it has been home to a diverse melting pot of cultures, including Iberians, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs and Christians. In 1982, the village’s “Old Town” was declared a “Historic-Artistic Complex” by the Spanish ministry of culture.
The municipality extends over vast fertile lands producing apricots, peaches, olives, almonds and grapes, and is a major source of red marble for international exportation.
Announcing the town’s candidature, regional minister for the presidency, tourism and sport Marcos Ortuño noted that the requirements for UNWTO recognition include having a low population density and a significant presence of traditional activities such as agriculture, forestry, livestock and fishing, and sharing strong community values and lifestyle options.
He highlighted Cehegín’s acclaimed natural resources, especially the Quípar y Llanos del Cagitán reservoir and four areas comprising the Natura 2000 Network: two classified as a “Place of Community Importance” – Río Quípar and Sierra de Lavia; and two as a “Special Protection Area for Birds” – Sierras de Burete, Lavia and Cambrón, and Sierra del Molino. In all, the municipality has 17 habitats designated as being of community interest.
Earlier this year, Cehegín municipality was incorporated into the nation-wide SICTED Tourism Quality System, a network that recognises and certifies a destination’s quality and safety. Murcia has the fourth highest number of SICTED-certified municipalities among Spain’s 17 regions.
To discover more of the Murcia region’s fascinating rural getaway havens, as well as its Costa Cálida coastal resorts, check out our Local Area guide. If you would like to rent a car to explore these areas, you will find the best deals here.