-The region of Murcia-
The region of Murcia, is located in the southeast of the Spanish mainland. It borders Castile-La Mancha in the north, the region of Valencia in the east, the Mediterranean Sea in the south, and Andalusia in the west. It is a one province Autonomous Community. Murcia is the capital of the region of the same name and is located inland. It is the largest autonomous community of only one province in Spain.
It has been said that in order to known Murcia, it s necessary to know the Huertas (family farming plots), as it is difficult to understand one without the other. The true essence of Murcia province is its rural spirit. The Huerta occupies the plain between two parallel mountain ranges through which the river Segura runs on its way to the sea. The Arabs came up with a complete system of irrigation and they made use of these fertile plains by cultivating fruit trees and vegetables, for which Murcia is most famous today.
Its coast is another major Spanish tourist zone. The Mar Menor is the most beautiful natural wonder on the coast. It is a shallow lagoon or pool, which is the largest of its kind in Spain. The water in the lagoon is very salty and maintains a hot temperature (5ºC above the average Mediterranean temperature).
Visitors are recommended to come to Murcia during April and September. This will allow them to really appreciate the true Murcian culture. The good all year round climate and the extrovert Mediterranean character of the people make the fiestas an unforgettable experience. Easter in Murcia is an explosion of beauty. The processions express the Murcian character, their generosity, their love and their faith. Spectators of the processions are rewarded with confectionaries and sweets, yet another example of the generosity of the people. Spring Feast begins on Easter Sunday and there are a number of fiestas to choose from. However one in particular that has been declared a National Tourist Interest is the “Bando de la Huerta”; visitors enjoy the traditional performances and see the old houses and customs of the Huerta, recreated by the “peñas”. This festival is an explosion of life in which the whole of the city and the Huerta takes part climaxing in the actual day of the Bando. The September Fair or “Romería” is extremely well attended, as well as historical. It commemorates the solemn coronation of the Virgin and is one of the most important holidays in Murcia.
Murcia’s History dates back to 825 when the city was founded It contained an important court of artists and scientists. The remains of buildings, the city’s defensive wall and the irrigation system in the Huerta have all been conserved and are all testimony to its Moorish heritage.
The city of Murcia is an open and dynamic city with a privileged situation in the Mediterranean, making it very attractive for congresses and cultural activities. Historically Murcia could not afford room for open spaces within the city walls; this has resulted in the surrounding area being a wide green belt composed of a succession of gardens, parks and green areas along the river banks. Two of its most attractive nature parks are El Valle Nature Reserve and El Puerto- Carrascoy mountain range.
There are a huge number of tourist attractions in Murcia City Museum, Fine Arts Museum, Science and Water Museum, Ramón Gaya Museum Archeological Museum and the bullfighting museum are just a few of the more educational establishments available. But the singular most renowned is the Salzillo Museum, where the dramatic, life-size wood polychrome works of the prolific eighteenth century Murcian sculptor, Francisco Salzillo, are concentrated.
In terms of surface area the region of Murcia is the ninth largest of the Spanish autonomous communities. The Murcia region lies at the centre of the Spanish Mediterranean coastal arch, between the longitudes 37º 23' - 38º 45'N and the latitudes 0º 39' - 2º 20'W taking as reference the Greenwich Meridian.
Murcia enjoys a yearly average of 2,800 hours of sunshine
The region of Murcia has the typical Mediterranean semi-arid subtropical climate: namely an average annual temperature of 18ºC, with hot summers (registering absolute maximum temperatures of 40ºC) and mild winters (an average temperature of 11ºC in the winter months of December and January).
The number of days per year with clear skies is 120-150, with approximately 2,800 sun-hours per annum. In general rain is scarce throughout the region (approx. 300-350 mm/year), falling mainly in the spring (April) and autumn (October), leaving the summer an eminently dry season. The region of Murcia is characterised by certain climatic differences which may lead to variation in the above-mentioned figures. These variations depend on the orientation and exposure to the dominant winds, the distance from the sea and the configuration of relief. Due to these factors, the temperature differences between the coast and the interior are much more extreme in the winter. On the coast temperatures tend never to fall below 10ºC, whilst inland at higher altitudes they may not exceed 6ºC. The latter areas show a higher average annual rainfall, which reaches 600 mm/yr.
From the geographical point of view, the region of Murcia stands out because of its multiple contrasts: dry vs. irrigated land, plains vs. mountainous areas, coastline vs. interior, vineyards vs. mesetas, factors which can no doubt be attributed to its location in a transitional area between the Sub-Baetic mountain range and the northern Sub-Meseta. Morphologically, the relief of the territory of Murcia falls within the influence of the Baetic cordilleras and shows an alternation between mountainous tracts, valleys and depressions, leading to extreme contrasts of altitude over short distances. Of the total surface area, the majority (approx. 45%) is situated between the altitudes of 200 - 600 metres; 23% is less than 200 metres above sea level, and the remaining 32% lies at altitudes of over 600 metres.
The highest point in the region is the Revolcadores massif (2,027 m), followed by numerous other smaller mountain ranges located in the Centre and North-West of the province, such as El Carche, Sierra Espuña, La Pila, or Ricote, which boast the most important forested areas, with vast areas of pine trees. Special mention must be made of the Altiplano (Jumilla and Yecla), situated to the North-East of the region. It is a high plateau planted with vineyards from whose fruit the area's renowned wines are produced. As we move southwards we meet alternating low cordilleras and valleys through which the Guadalentín and Segura rivers flow, with rich agricultural land and wide fertile coastal plains, the most extensive of which is the Campo de Cartagena.
Murcia has just over 170 km of coastline: coves and small beaches alternate with rocky shores and sheer, craggy cliffs. As a geographical accident of nature we find La Manga, a coastal strip of land which, bar a few connecting channels, or narrows, completely closes off the Mar Menor lagoon from the Mediterranean. The Murcian littoral offers on the one hand unprotected shores with wild seas and on the other small coves with calm, placid waters. Sand-dunes, beaches, salt-water lagoons, mud-flats... the Murcia coastline includes numerous places of unquestionable interest to the naturalist. Not surprisingly many of these have been declared Protected Natural Areas, spots where even in our times you can find autoctonous species of flora and fauna, such as the Sabina mora, an autoctonous tree variety, or the fartet, a tiny, unique species of fish.