Guide to the inland town of Lorca, located in the Murcia region of Spain.
Lorca - Murcia - Spain
Lorca: Overlooked by its ancient 13th Century castle the historical town of Lorca is, these days, an important commercial centre for the region. Located to the south-west of the city of Murcia, Lorca is ideally situated on the A-7 (E-15) motorway and has good road and rail communications with the major cities of Spain, both to the north (Alicante and Valencia) and to the south (Almeria and Granada). Often called ‘The City of a Hundred Coats of Arms’, Lorca was a dangerous frontier town during the long struggle between Moors who held Granada and Christians of Castille.
The castle itself was built by the Moors during the Arab conquest of Spain, and for many years it stood on the border between Christian and Muslim Spain. The history of Lorca however goes back much farther, although little is known of its ancient history, it was originally settled by the Iberians (ancient Spanish peoples) during the Bronze Age (around 2000 BC) and was part of the El Argar culture, it was later called Eliocroca by the Romans. The Arabs called it Lurka and the old town of Lorca still shows evidence of the muslim occupation in its design and layout with distinctive narrow, winding streets and alleyways. After the Christian re-conquest the castle was re-named Torre Alfonsina in honour of the Castillian King Alfonso X.
Throughout the 18th Century numerous Baroque churches were built in Lorca and these along with numerous other interesting buildings make Lorca a fascinating place to visit. Among the most notable buildings are the Ex-Collegiate Church of San Patricio which was built (1536-1780) on the former site of the Church of San Jorge and was named in honour of the citizens of Lorca who defeated the Moors in 1452, the Church of San Francisco with its display of Baroque alterpieces, originally dating from 1561 but re-built during the 17th Century, the Guevara Palace (known as the ‘house of the columns’) a Baroque building from the 17th and 18th Centuries belonging to the Guevara family, the Town Hall originally built in 1678 as a prison was extended in 1739, the El Pósito (Granary) dating from the 14th Century and one of the oldest buildings in Lorca and originally designed by Quijano, the Convent of Santo Domingo and the Chapel of El Rosario built during the 17th Century by the Dominican Monks with stonework by Lorenzo Mora and Antonio de la Rosa.
Lorca was declared an area of ‘Historical and Artistic Interest’ in 1964 and a visit to the above buildings and the many other interesting monuments will leave visitors in no doubt as to the reason for this.
Of course Lorca celebrates many fiestas and celebrations but is particularly notable for its ‘Holy Week’ festivities when the streets are alive with local people dressed in stunning costumes together with galloping horses, Roman carriages and intricately carved reigious images. In September the town celebrates its carnival 'The Lorca Fair' often called 'The Big Fair' and held during the last 10 days of the month.
The area around Lorca is well irrigated (mostly thanks to the Moors) and it has been an important area for agriculture on which it has mostly depended for its economic survival, it was originally built around the Guadalentin River (mud-river in Arabic), it is also a significant area for pig-farming.
Lorca enjoys a typically Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters although temperatures can get well below freezing in the surrounding mountains.
To the south of Lorca you will find the beautiful coastline of the Costa Calida with some fine resorts worth visiting including Aguilas, Calabardina and Puerto Mazarron. You could also try hill walking in the Sierra de Espuña, a trip to the ceramics factories in Totana or a visit to Mula for the Holy Week drumming processions.