Lorca is a municipality and town in the autonomous community of Murcia in southeastern Spain, 36 miles southwest of the city of Murcia. The main town is home to Lorca Castle and the Collegiate church dedicated to St. Patrick. In ancient times Lorca was the frontier town between Christian and Muslim Spain. Even earlier to that during the Roman period it was ancient Ilura or Heliocroca of the Romans. The town was seriously damaged by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake on 11 May 2011. Archaeological excavations in the Lorca area have revealed that it has been inhabited continuously since Neolithic times, 5,500 years ago. The earliest permanent settlement is in the Guadalentín River valley, likely because of its presence of water sources, mineral resources, and lying along a natural communication route in Andalusia. On the hillside below the castle and the town archaeological digs have revealed the remains of an important population of the El Argar culture during the Bronze Age. During the Roman period a settlement here was called Eliocroca, detailed in the Antonine Itinerary and located right on Via Augusta.
The municipality of Lorca extends to the Mediterranean. There are many beaches in its 8 km littoral stretch of the coast line surrounded by hills with coves with sparse to dense vegetation. Some of the popular beaches are: The Calnegre, a sand beach, 1200 m long and 20 m wide, is peaceful with the calm sea; Cala Leña, part of the Blana Cove with backdrop of hills covered with good vegetation and facing crystal clear sea water; El Ciscar, a gravel beach surrounded by low hills; El Muerto beach with volcanic black sand and rock faces; La Galera gravel beach in the backdrop of a cove and rock cliffs covered by vegetation; Los Hierros, a gravel beach; Larga beach, a 500 m wide gravel beach; and La Junquera, a small gravely beach with rocky landforms.
The Lorca Castle, which overlooks the city of Lorca from a strategic location, was built by the Moorish inhabitants during the 13th century. It is distinctly visible from a distance. Castle is distinctly visible from a distance . Its history dates back to the Islamic period when it was built between 8th and 12th centuries; some remnants of which are still seen in the form of water systems in the older part of the castle. The Alfonsí Tower is of a rectangular shape which is built in the castle. The castle has a polygonal floor plan. The tower has three sections. Gothic vaulted ceilings are seen in its three sections. It also has the Espolón Tower. During the final stages of Christian reconquest, the Moors had taken refuge in the castle. Alphonse tower was added to the fort defences when Alfonso X had retaken the city in 1243 provided security to the turrets and crenels of the fort. The castle is now a popular place for holding fiestas and civic functions. The castle is also transformed into a theme park with fine display of “dioramas, actors in costumes and various gadgetry”.
The Plaza de España (Spanish Square) is one of the most emblematic monuments of the city, located in the heart of Lorca’s historical centre. Containing the Collegiate San Patricio and the Chambers of the Collegiate members, the Casa del Corregidor and Posito, the granary of 16th century, amongst others They were built between the 16th and 18th centuries. The Plaza has been declared a Cultural Monument.
The Collegiate Church of San Patricio is a Renaissance-style building situated on the Plaza de España. It was declared a National Historic-Artistic site by decree of January 27, 1941. The Collegiate is the only one in Spain which is under the patronage of St. Patrick. The dedication to the Irish saint, has its origins in the Battle of Alporchones, fought on March 17, 1452 (St. Patrick’s Day) against people of the city of Granada. The church began construction in 1533 under Pope Clement VII on the spot of the old church of San Jorge. Construction, however, was delayed until 1704. The church features a baroque façade with Renaissance interiors.
The city has many museums of which the Museo de Arqueologico Municipal maintained by the Plaza de Juan Moreno is popular. There is also an embroidery museum. The city hall has many paintings of battles that were fought in and around Lorca. Paintings of local artists are also on display here.
Museo de Arqueologica is located in the renovated “House of Salazar” which had been built in the early seventeenth century. The museum is a store house of all the archaeological antiquaries found during excavations in several historical areas of Lorca and from other regions in Spain. Limestone statues made in the Lavant area of Lorca decorate the façade. These statues carved are of Mary Natareloo Salazar flanked by figures of two naked female torsos. Inside the museum exhibits are in several sections arranged in a sequence. In the lobby and the first section of the museum the exhibits are: Prehistoric Palaeolithic (95000-32000 BC) and chalcolithic period (32,000 to 9000 BC) finds seen in the flint section consist of antiquaries of scrapers, knives and points used by the hunters and gatherers who lived in Black Hill of Jofré and the Correia in Lorca; utensils arrowheads, axes, polished piece, handmade pottery, beads of people who lived in the region of Lorca during the late Neolithic period (3500 BC); the Copper Age (3000 BC) findings of funerary objects found in the caves of the hills in Lorca; stone architecture of the megaliths of the Black Hill in Lorca; the later part of the third millennium idols made from clay, bone and stone from the excavations from the Glorieta de San Vicente (Lorca city), one particular item of display is the triangular plate of stone painted in black with schematic rock art painting and other animal on the shoulder blade; the two columns of Emperor Augustus (8–7 BC) and Emperor Diocletian; and the Roman period mosaics, faces of Venus and the nine females of the period.
Lorca is studded with ancient monuments built in baroque architecture, Roman villas, palaces, unique works of art. In the central part of the town, La Casa de Guevara is one of the ancient baroque buildings built between 16th and 18th centuries by the Guevara family. Another historical monument is the Iglesia de San Mateo, which has an impressive vaulted interior.
- A Roman Milepost of 10 BC of Emperor Augustus period over which a statue of San Vincente erected in the 15th century is an important landmark on the Columnia Milenaria”. It is located on the located on the Calle de la Corredera
- Lorca City Hall, built in the 17th–18th centuries, initially as a prison
- Medieval walls and gate or porch of San Antonio (13th-early 14th centuries) of Arabic origin was the main entrance gate then.
- Monumental complex of Santo Domingo (16th–18th centuries), formed by the namesake church, the Capilla del Rosario and remains of a convent’s cloister.
- Iglesia de San Francisco (Lorca) (1561–1735), also known as the temple of San Francisco, is a national monument. It was first built by the Franciscan Order in the middle of 16th century which was later totally rebuilt in the 17th century. It has many baroque altar pieces made by Ginés López in 1694. In 18th century, Jerónimo Caballero added two high altarpieces of the transept that are dedicated to the Saint Antonio and to Vera Cruz and to the Blood of Christ. In 1941, the ‘Virgin de los Dolores’ altarpiece made by José Capuz was added.
- Palace of the counts of San Julián, in Baroque-Neomudéjar style (17th century)
- Huerto Ruano Palace, an urban villa from the 19th century
- Casa del Corregidor, house built in the 18th century
- Pósito de los Panaderos, granary house, built in the 16th century
- Columna Miliaria, Roman structure
- Convento Virgen de las Huertas, Franciscan convent destroyed during a raid in 1653 and rebuilt
- Convento de las Mercedarias (16th century)
- Palacio de Guevara (17th–18th century)
- Antiguo Convento de la Merced
- Antiguo Colegio de la Purísima (18th century), now housing the Conservatorio de Música Narciso Yepes.
- Iglesia del Carmen, 18th century church
- Iglesia de San Cristóbal (17th–18th century).
- Iglesia de San Diego (17th century).
- Iglesia de San Mateo (18th–19th century).
- Casino Artístico, Andalusian-style building, designed by Manuel Martínez Lorca.
- Teatro Guerra is the oldest theatre in the Murcia Region, inaugurated in 1861.
- Cámara Agrícola (early twentieth century), Art Nouveau building, unusual in this part of the Region of Murcia, designed by Mario Spottorno,
- Puente de Piedra (19th century), bridge
- Puente de la Torta (1910), bridge built in 1910 from concrete
- Plaza de Toros (1892).
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