In the afternoon, we make an excursion to Caravaca de la Cruz. The town in the region of Murcia is considered the oldest Palaeolithic site in Europe. Furthermore, it is one of the largest prehistoric burial sites in Europe, with 1300 skeletons found here.
Caravaca gained strategic importance in the Middle Ages as a junction between the Kingdom of Granada, the Kingdom of Murcia, and the Crown of Aragon. Later, it became a Christian border town against Al-Andalus.
Caravaca became famous for a relic that is said to come from the Cross of Christ. In 1998, Pope John Paul II declared Caravaca de la Cruz, one of the ten holy cities. One has the privilege to celebrate this every seven years. The annual patron saint’s celebrations from 1 to 5 May were declared of International Tourist Interest in 2004.
The distance of 80 km from Murcia to Caravaca flew by. The Southern Spanish landscape is barren and dry, but still very varied. Great parts are irrigated by clever water management. Again and again, we see fruit and vegetable cultivation. The landscape is interrupted by villages lying high on hills.
Upon arrival in Caravaca, we are lucky to find a parking lot next to the Plaza del Arco. The sun is shining, and a tapas bar has some chairs outside.
So we treat ourselves to a tasty ham and let the place have its effect on us.
In front of a gift shop next to the blossoming Jacaranda trees, we discover an exceptional horse costume. The horses wear such costumes at the festival Caballos del Vino. They are very precious, sometimes one works on it for a whole year.
Today there exists a legend about the origin of the festival Caballos del Vino. It says that the inhabitants and the Knights Templar found refuge in the castle from the siege by the Muslims. Over time, the water became undrinkable, and some got ill. Riders crept out of the castle at night. But instead of water they only brought back some wineskins.
One blessed the wine under the Caravaca cross and gave it to the sick, who immediately felt better. The wine was then mixed with the spoiled water, which became fresh again. So one could resist the enemy. The celebration Caballos del Vino aspires to be declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.
Strengthened we set off for the cathedral. A relatively steep road leads up the hill.
Halfway there is an impressive monument in honor of the festival Caballos del Vino. From here, one has a first view over the roofs of Caravaca de la Cruz. Especially impressive is the mighty fortification wall of the former castle, in front of us.
We walk to the top of the hill. A large square behind the fortification walls surrounds Basilica de la Vera Cruz.
Probably to save space, one built the bishop’s apartment on top of the cathedral, which gives it a strange appearance.
Well, in any case, one seems to have a beautiful view from there.
An old clockwork is exhibited in a little tower at the wall. We have a quick look into the cathedral and the inner courtyard.
For a while, we assimilate the view across the roofs of the old town, but of course also to the other parts of the city and the surroundings.
Then we go back to the car and return to Murcia. The medieval old town of Caravaca de la Cruz has very narrow lanes as we also experienced on the return journey.
On the way back we could have a look at a reservoir. It is part of the irrigation system and lies hidden between the hills.
Shortly before our arrival in Murcia, we have a magnificent panoramic view of Murcia.
Please read on > A short visit to Cartagena
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