In 1998 Caravaca de la Cruz was declared as the 5th Holy City of the world by Pope John Paul II, together with Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela and Potes. The city is steeped in history dating back to the Palaeolithic age. It was originally under Muslim domination and the Order of the Temple and later the Order of Santiago were in charge of the cross of Caravaca. The Cross of Caravaca is reportedly a piece of the cross where Jesus was crucified. There are various monuments in Caravaca, including the parochial church of El Salvador regarded by many as the jewel of the Murcian Renaissance. The church of San Jose is exquisitely decorated in the Rococo style. Other buildings of interest are the church of the Purest Conception, the church of the Company of Jesus and various monuments including the Templete and the Bullring. It is a must to walk through the medieval streets of the old town and visit the four museums, the Museum of the Vera Cruz, the Celebration, the Archaeological and the Centre of Interpretation of the Nature.
Caravaca de la Cruz is now a modern city equipped with excellent communications. It is 40 minutes to the city of Murcia, along a new motorway. The airports of Murcia and Alicante are about an hour and a half away. Located to the northwest of Murcia, the land rises to around 2,000 meters above sea level. The surrounding valleys of Argos and Quipar and very fertile and various crops are grown throughout the year.
The beautiful mountains are covered in an abundance of fir trees which can often be seen covered in snow during the winter months. Much of the land is planted to apricot, almond and olive trees and when these are ready to be harvested, whole families can be seen out in the fields gathering the crops. Obviously a huge amount of virgin olive oil comes from this area, as does marzipan which is made from the almonds picked from the trees in the surrounding area. Hunting is prevalent in this area as there are many wild animals living in the vast forest areas, including wild boar.
Various celebrations take place throughout the year in Caravaca including the celebration of Moors, Christians and Cabellos del vino, which is held from the 1st to the 5th of May. The Cabellos del vino celebration is the only one of its kind in the world and the thoroughbred horses are harnessed with mantles delicately embroidered with fine gold thread. These are carefully made by hand and each one is a magnificent work of art. with these beautiful coats and they race from the bottom of the town, up to the castle. This race takes place on the second day of the 5-day fiesta and hundreds of people line the streets, cheering the competitors on. The tradition dates back to around 1250 when templar knights raced across the lands ruled by the Moors, bringing wine to the guards looking after the True Cross, kept since 1231. The fiesta includes special Church services, processions and historical re-enactments of the Moors and Christians and as usual the Spanish will be out in full force!
For more information on Caravaca and its fiestas, please go to www.caravaca.org/
May 3rd Santisima y Vera Cruz
December 3-8th Santa Barbara – Archivel