Neighbouring regions along Spain’s sunny south east coast, Almería and Murcia are popular holiday destinations for visitors from the rest of Spain as well as further afield. Blessed with an excellent climate, visitors enjoy exploring historical sites, and places of natural beauty.
Our Pick Of The Sights in The Region of Murcia
Lorca Castle (La Fortaleza del Sol)
One of the largest castles in Spain, the mediaeval fortress in Lorca was constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries as a key defensive hold against Moorish invasions of the Christian kingdoms of Castilla and Murcia. It’s nickname of “fortress of the sun” comes from its sunny, hilltop position. The restored castle is now a key attraction for visitors to the area. There are three main areas within the walls, one of which contains the Alfonsina Tower (rebuilt in the 15th century); and another the Espolón Tower.
A salt-water lagoon separated from the Mediterranean by a 22 kilometre sandbank, Mar Menor has been a resort destination since Phoenician times. Visit destinations including La Manga, Los Alcazares and San Pedro del Pinatar. The wetlands to the north are preserved within a conservation sanctuary.
Real Casino de Murcia
Take a step back in time at this beautifully renovated 18th century social club in Murcia city to appreciate the ornate architecture and interiors. Created for its elite members to socialise in a beautiful and sumptuous environment, the Royal Casino is still a social club today but is also open to the public during specified hours. There are numerous areas to visit including the entrance space with its striking glass dome, the glass-roofed Central Gallery, the English Library, various lounges, a Pompeyan Patio, a lavish Ballroom and a space known as the Ladies Dressing Room.
Roman Theatre of Cartagena
Built between 5 and 1 BC, this impressive theatre was built by the grandsons of Caesar Augustus. In the 3rd century, a market was built over it, reusing some of the materials but retaining the semi-circular open space as existed in the theatre. In subsequent centuries that market was abandoned but others were established on the site. Finally, in the 13th century, the city’s Old Cathedral was built over the upper seating sections. The theatre remains were discovered during 1988 after which archeological excavations revealed more of the original remains. The site was restored, and a museum built, with the site opened to visitors in 2008. Enter via the informative museum to learn more about this impressive Roman site before viewing the restored remains.
Santa Maria Cathedral of Murcia
The impressive Baroque facade of the Santa Maria cathedral faces out into the Plaza del Cardenal Belluga. Although construction started in the 14th century, the cathedral was expanded into the 18th century, which is why the exterior features a mix of architectural styles including Gothic, Renaiisance and Baroque. The 90-metre tall bell tower houses 24 bells, each with its own name. Inside, the style is predominantly Gothic. There are three separate naves and 23 chapels, some containing important historical items such as a coffer containing remains of Alfonso X, a king celebrated for his wisdom and credited with developing the nation of Spain.
Our Pick Of The Sights in Almería Province
Alcazaba of Almería
Spilling down an arid hillside, the Alcazaba of Almeria is an extensive walled citadel built in the 10th century – its name comes from the Arabic word qasabah meaning a fortified area. In 955 Almeria was given the title of medina (city) by the caliphate of Cordoba, which is when construction of the defensive walls and towers began, along with government buildings, squares, houses and a mosque. It’s a beautiful example of Moorish military architecture.
Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park
Especially popular in the summer, when sea breezes and mountain shade offer welcome respite from the searing heat, this extensive park offers beautiful views of the sea along its preserved coastline environment. There are many species of fauna and flora within the park, many exclusive to the area. The Rambla Morales saltwater lagoon and the El Albardinal botanical gardens are nearby.
Los Letreros Caves
Just south of Vélez Blanco are the ‘Caves of the Signs’, a series of caves featuring archeologically significant prehistoric cave paintings made between 6000 and 3500 BC by the first inhabitants of the region. Most of the paintings feature men, women and animals; one such painting of the Indalo shows a man holding a rainbow in his hands and has become the official symbol of Almeria Province. You will need to book into a slot ahead of time, as visits are only permitted with a qualified guide.
Antonio de Torres Museum of the Spanish Guitar
One for music lovers, this modern museum in the historic centre of Almería relates the history and manufacture of this classic instrument while also celebrating local guitar-maker Antonio de Torres.
Museum of the Civil War Refuges
This museum is a stark reminder of the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, during which Almería was the last Republican holdout . Kilometers of concrete refuge tunnels were built beneath the city in which residents could hide when the city was being bombed. There are numerous areas to explore including recreational spaces, a cellar and pantry, and an operating theatre. Exhibits showcase instruments and items used in the refuge and war.