Sierra de Espuña Murcia

Interesting article about the Sierra de Espuña Murcia, an area of rugged natural beauty.

The Natural Park of Sierra de Espuña

The Sanctuary in the Sierra Espuña Murcia -

The Sierra Espuña was first discovered by those sailing from Barbary or Lebante for Spain and is situated in the very centre of the region of Murcia, with more than 25,000 hectares forming part of the Andalusian ranges and stretching between the regions of Mula and the Guadalentín valley. It takes up land from Alhama, Aledo, Totana, Mula and Pliego. Its great natural richness is so important that in 1978, 10,000 hectares were declared as a Natural Park and even now they are considering the possible extension of its parameters and its reclassification. As more and more people discover its charm it has become a playground for tourists and visitors alike with nature becoming intimately entwined with man.

Tear yourself away from the natural springs and the maze of hidden tracks and venture down to the foot of the mountain range to the Sanctuary of Santa Eulalia de Mérida, the patron saint of Totana. Nestled in the pine groves it is believed the origin of the sanctuary is placed at the second half of the first century, built by the Order of Santiago on land given by King Alfonso X. The followers built the present day sanctuary in 1574. The town council later became interested in using it as a centre of worship and soon promoted its first restoration during which time it was already described as ‘a nave with good walls and covered in good wood with a good flat roof above and good doors with an iron lock.’ Today you can also find a description of the Saint looking ‘striking, she had a green skirt and a linen blouse, some black beads and a small purple cloak from London trimmed with silk, a corset with sleeves and a dark ribbon.’

In the last third of the 16th century devotion to the Saint grew, believing her to have miraculous powers, curing the sick and the crippled who drank from the fountain situated opposite the Hermitage, to which curing properties were attributed. Today local people still make the trip barefooted up to La Santa from Totana to bring good fortune to loved ones who are sick, believing that by walking barefoot they can take some of their pain away.

One of the best times to visit La Santa is in December when the pilgrimage takes place on the 8th, 9th and 10th. The image of Santa Eulalia, which lies inside the ornate church, is taken out of the retreat by bearers who carry it on their shoulders in the early hours of the morning. The journey of the Saint through ‘Los Huertos’ is charming and emotive, especially when the followers draw near to the image and cheer her in passing, whilst those who carry the Saint give out sweets to the people who have spent a long night outdoors awaiting her return. The pilgrimage continues in this fashion until it arrives at a place, which has long since been known as ‘El Rulo’, where the image is received by the townspeople and the civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries alike, who then accompany their patron to the end of her pilgrimage, which is found at the retreat of ‘San Roque’. She remains here until 7th January when the pilgrimage returns to La Santa.

Also worth a visit is the ‘Mirador del Corazon del Jesus.’ The statue lies at the top of a mountain overlooking and protecting the town of Totana. Built in 1958 the area is also home to a resident fire engine on hand for any forest fires in the area. Climbing the mountain, either by foot or car there are a series of stone statues masked concealed in the hillside depicting the story of Christ. From the top of the statue families rest amongst the pines in the picnic area and enjoy the spectacular view as the sun sets across Totana and Aledo.

Top Tips.

1. If you want to stay in the Sanctuary for your own peace and tranquillity and explore the area some more then prices for the hotel start at 50€ a night. Call 902 420 080. If you fancy getting back to nature stay at the campsite in the Sierra Espuña, call 968 668 038

2. You can reach the Sierra de Espuña from several towns in the area but we travelled on the E-15 from Elche, signposted Murcia and Almeria and Granada and came off at Totana.

Article provided by kind permission of The Leader Newspaper.

Nearby Places: Mula - Totana - Jumilla

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