Calasparra is a pretty little town in Murcia that is a gem to explore and yet has retained its Spanish identity. Calasparra has breathtaking mountain views and its location is perfect for many places to visit. The River Segura is close by, providing facilities for water rafting and fishing.
There are many good cafes and restaurants in Calasparra that offer a variety of tapas, snacks and plated meals. Many of these bars and restaurants serve a good value Menu del Dia at around 8€ for three courses, including beer, wine or soft drinks. There is also an English bar, the Calasparra Arms, which serves traditional English food and drink, including much sought-after English beers. There are numerous fiestas during the year when the streets are closed to traffic and the cafés and bars set up tables outside. The whole town becomes alive with the usual crowds enjoying the late evenings tasting the local drinks and locally produced food.
Calasparra is a wonderful, typically Spanish town and with a laid back life. Friday is market day and the streets are filled with the aroma of sun-ripened fresh fruit and vegetables, and traditional Spanish fayre such as variety of typical chorizo sausage and other Spanish delicacies. There are clothes, linen and many other stalls including leather goods. The little narrow streets become crowded with the ladies of the town doing their weekly shop, pulling their trolleys behind them with little or no regard for other people’s legs and feet. The bars are busy with the men passing the time of day clutching their beer and/or brandy, waiting for the arrival of their wives who usually end up with a cup of luke-warm coffee.
The main annual fiesta in Calasparra is held the first week of September when the whole town comes out to party. Most of the town closes down for the whole week. There are colourful parades and the traditional daily bull runs through the town. Little stalls are set up in the streets, selling anything from beer and food, to jewellery and leather goods as well as locally produced crafts. The ayuntamiento organizes live music and there is always the lively fair ground to add to the atmosphere. Most of the bars are open all hours and everyone joins in the noisy celebrations late into the night.
The Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza
2008 saw the jubilee celebrations of the Sanctuary. Esperanza is the patron saint of Calasparra. The Sanctuary is a beautiful church set into the side of the mountain, the first records of the Sanctuary date back to the 17th century. It is the third most visited place in Spain and many people travel here from all over Spain and beyond. There is a souvenir shop and restaurant, a children’s play area and BBQ facilities on the banks of the River Segura. On the way to the Sanctuary there is a viewing point where you can enjoy panoramic breathtaking views of the mountains, the town of Calasparra and the rice paddy fields.
Caves of El Puerto and Cave of Monigotes
The caves just outside Calasparra are well worth a visit. The Cave of Monigotes is particularly spectacular with a lake, cave paintings, and a multitude of stalagmites and stalactites.
The paddy fields surrounding the town produce the renowned Calasparra. The rice is grown using natural pure mountain water which is fed into the fields by the traditional irrigation system inherited from the Moors. The farmers began growing rice in Calasparra around 1634 and Calasparra Rice was the first rice in Spain to be given the “Denominacion de Origen” which is a guarantee of quality. It can be found in many of the local supermarkets and is sold in traditional cloth bags.
Calasparra is a place where you can enjoy many sports including river rafting, rock-climbing, hiking, and fishing.
Calasparra has a networks of caves with ancient wall paintings, and fascinating rock formations. Some of the caves are open for guided tours. Contact the Tourist Information for more details on the tours. Tel: 968 745 325 or email firstname.lastname@example.org