The name Jumillla is synonymous with wine for which it is famous. The area has been a major wine producing region since the Romans planted their vineyards over 2,000 year’s ago. The Moors continued to pursue the industry and today Jumillian wines are famous throughout the world. The wines are of an excellent quality, coming from one of the world’s best grapes, the Monastrell. The climate surrounding Jumilla is dry, but with fairly cold winters, which is ideal for the superb wine production.
Jumilla is steeped in history and this city in Northwest Murcia has had Roman settlements followed by Moorish occupation for centuries. There are numerous Moorish fortifications dating back to the Reconquest in 1911 and Jumilla was granted city status by King Alfonso XIII. There are various places of interest to visit, including the 15th century castle which overlooks the town. The 15th century Church of Santiago was declared a National Monument because of its Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. There is the 19th century Vico Teatro, designed by Justo Milan and the 16th century Council building which are both worth a visit and there are many archaeological sites, including cave painting, many of which have been declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO. Many of the museums are based on religion and the Santa Ana Monastery recreates the life of retreat and self sufficiency of the monks.
The area surrounding the city are beautifully kept and the Botanical Gardens can be seen on the outskirts of the city. The gardens were opened in the 1950’s and they cover 19,500 square metres where 150 species of trees and other plants indigenous to the Murcian region.
Jumilla enjoys typical Murcian gastronomy including Gashas Migas, which is a local dish made with hard wheat flour, olive oil, garlic and salt. This is cooked until it looks a bit like breadcrumbs and then meat such as spicy local sausage or bacon is added. Los Sequillos is a sweet dish made up of culin flour, eggs and oil. This is cooked and covered with meringue. Another local dish is Wine Rolls that are made from flour, lard, wine and sugar and then dusted with cinnamon.
The Tourist Office in Jumilla are more than happy to help and advise you when and where to visit places of interest. One of the most popular tours is the famous Wine Route which is dedicated to Jumilla’s famous wine industry. The tour includes visiting the ancient wine cellars and of course wine-tasting. After meeting the local wine producers and visits to the historic centres, you can enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the many local bars or restaurants.
The Wine Harvest Fiesta in August lasts for ten days and Jumilla bursts into life with various traditional competitions such as hoe-throwing and the usual colourful parades take to the streets through the city. The fiesta culminates in a huge wine parade where over 10,000 people gather and over 45,000 litres of wine is distributed! Like most Spanish fiestas, the food and wine is free, as are the sweets that are thrown from the colourful floats in the parade.
The next fiesta in Jumilla will be the Semana Santa Fiesta, which is well worth a visit as it is one of the largest Good Friday parades in the country. There are over 22 floats with the locals dressing up as characters such as the Nazarenes, who are men dressed in black cloaks and hoods, who carry heavy religious statues through the streets of Jumilla. It is regarded as a privilege to be a Nazarene and people pay a great deal of money to take part in the parade. In the nearby villages, Holy Week is marked by around 15,000 Tamboradas taking to the streets from midnight on Holy Wednesday until Easter Sunday. That is 100 hours of uninterrupted noise that only the Spanish seem to be able to cope with!