Many of the historic villages of inland Murcia are accessible only with your own transport, but one place you can reach easily is LORCA, an attractive former frontier town whose historic centre, on the hill between c/López Gisbert and the castle, still has a distinct aura of the past. For a time, it was part of the Córdoba caliphate, but it was retaken by the Christians in 1243, after which Muslim raids were a feature of life until the fall of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold. Most of the town’s notable buildings – churches and ancestral homes – date from the sixteenth century onwards.
Today, Lorca is famed for its Semana Santa celebrations, which outdo those of both Murcia and Cartagena, the next best in the region. There’s a distinctly operatic splendour about the dramatization of the triumph of Christianity, with characters such as Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and the royalty of Persia and Babylon attired in embroidered costumes of velvet and silk. The high point is the afternoon and evening of Good Friday.