Visit Orihuela City
If you’re looking for a day out in the region of Alicante or Murcia, why not visit the small city of Orihuela. The capital of the Vega Baja, it is a city steeped in Spanish history, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Sierra de Orihuela mountain range.
The remnants of Castillo de Orihuela, an Arab castle, overlooks the city but you can take a closer look at its Moorish origins, including the city walls, by visiting the Museo de Muralla, one of a number of museums in Orihuela. This was purposely built around the remains of the ancient settlement. Step back in time as you observe the walls of the Moorish houses, typically built with a courtyard in the centre. Move on to the Moorish bathhouse and Gothic palace which can give you even more of an insight into the past, together with artifacts and ceramics, which were found when the area was excavated.
The architectural, historic and religious heritage of Spain is summed up in the country’s beautiful cathedrals. Built in a gothic style, Orihuela’s Catedral del Salvador y Santa Maria doesn’t disappoint. Construction was done in the latter part of the 13th Century, on the original grounds of a mosque. The building, initially a parish church, was elevated to its current status in 1565. The inside is abundant with character including its baroque organ, which will catch your eye as soon as you walk through the main door.
If you’re planning to get married in the near future, you might consider the regal palace, ‘Palacio de Rubaclava.’ One of the splendid palaces of Orihuela, this is owned by the city since 1976, having originally been lived in by members of a family of the same name, until 1933. The design includes a sweeping staircase made of marble, rising up to the imperial rooms above. The Salón Negro, which translates as Black Room, houses a neo-gothic chapel, while the Salón Baile is the ballroom. The most imperious of the rooms is the Salón Verde, the Green Room which has family portraits. Ceramics and paintings from the XVII and the XVIII centuries can be found in these rooms. What better excuse to visit than to go to the Tourist Office of Orihuela, on the ground floor of the palace, where you can get information about the many other places of interest in the city.
Shopping in Orihuela
While Orihuela has a small shopping centre in the city, ‘Mall Ociopia,’ with many high street favourites, there is nothing quite like strolling through the streets and enjoying the boutique shops that are individual to the area. This is part of the essence of the city. In the usual laid back ‘manana’ style, that is intrinsic to Spanish life, stopping for a coffee and a pastry in one of the many bars or cafes en route, enjoying the local hospitality, is as important as the shopping itself.
Having worked up an appetite from all that delicious browsing, how better to spend siesta, when the shops are closed than to enjoy a nice lunch. Orihuela offers a huge choice of cafes and restaurants serving delicious food including tapas and of course the traditional ‘menu del dia.’ Watch out for the day’s dishes, usually listed on billboards outside local establishments. This daily special was brought into Spain in 1965. While the story goes that it was introduced by the Spanish Dictator, Franco, to make sure workers had a decent meal in the middle of the day, this is often dismissed as blanoney. Whatever its origins, the tradition has remained. Relax and enjoy a delicious meal, including wine, beer or a soft drink at a great price and if you’re ready to get moving again before siesta is over, why not visit one of the city’s beautiful parks.
El Palmeral de San Antón
A visit to Orihuela could be considered wasted without a visit to the stunning Palmeral de San Antón. Second only to the Palm Grove at Elche in size, throughout Europe, its lush surroundings are a balm to the soul. The Palmeral has also been declared a heritage site. Let the kids run free, letting out all of that suppressed energy while you enjoy strolling through beautiful vegetation dating back more than a thousand years, to the time of the Moors in Spain.
Whether, you visit historical sites, shop, eat, drink or indeed wander through Orihuela’s beautiful parks, there are plenty of reasons to return to this wonderful city time and time again.