IN CAMPER TOWARDS VALENCIA, ALICANTE, CARTAGENA

LET’S GO TO SPAIN. IN CAMPER TOWARDS VALENCIA, ALICANTE, CARTAGENA

Discovering the Valencian community and the Murcia region.

With over six hundred kilometres of shoreline, a mild climate and cities that are like pearls waiting to be found, the Valencian Community is an ideal destination for motorhomers looking for unforgettable ‘sea and culture’ holidays. At its border lies the Murcia region, with little tourism but equally fascinating. Let us visit these fascinating lands together.

The Mediterranean landscape, the beautiful cities on the coast and the placid hamlets inland are the elements behind the strong attraction of the Valencian Community.
With our camper, we will be able to visit this splendid land and its millennial cities, also rich with contemporary architecture. On the border with the community lies the Murcia region, another Spanish jewel, little touched by mass tourism but very interesting.

REACHING SAGUNTO


We can start our journey from the ancient city of Sagunto, a name that recalls the First Punic War and Hannibal’s siege of the city. Sagunto is rich with archaeological remains and great historic and artistic works, among which the Roman theatre, built inside a mountain cavity and hence characterised by exceptional acoustics, is an unmissable site. There is also Castillo, a fortress from the Arab domination, which overlooks the city. From here, we can admire a fantastic view. Sagunto’s historical centre is rich with monuments, such as the arcades of Mayor square, the Gothic church of Santa Maria, the Jewish Quarter and noble palaces in via Mayor.
Let us continue our journey with the camper van and move towards Valencia.

VALENCIA WITH A CAMPER VAN


This city, the third most important after Madrid and Barcelona, attracts a growing number of tourists; after all, the past, present and future belong here, prices are much lower here than in the capitals of the Spanish movida and the climate is perfect all year long, so any season is good for a visit.

One of the most interesting and most visited areas is surely the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, a masterpiece of modern architecture by Valencian architect Calatrava, who wanted to celebrate his home town this way. We can spend an entire day here, visiting the beautiful Prince Philip Science Museum , with its spectacular shape reminiscent of a whale’s skeleton. This is an interactive science museum, built over 40,000 Sq m on 3 floors; an ideal destination for kids and children.

The Oceanografic is another spectacular feature: Europe’s largest aquarium deserves a visit for its natural ecosystem structures. The roof shaped like a water lily was built by architect Felix Candela. It counts nearly 45,000 animals from 500 different marine species, divided into 9 areas representing the key ecosystems on our planet.

From here we move to the historical centre of town, following what used to be the old Turia riverbed, now a huge park splitting the city in two. This way we enter the old city, and a beautiful sight appears before us: a maze of characteristically narrow streets leading to Virgen square, a popular spot surrounded by Valencia’s top three historical buildings: the Cathedral of Santo Calice, la basilica of los Desamparados and the Palace of Generalitat.
We climb to the top of the Micalet tower, the cathedral’s tower, to see a breathtaking view of the city. Once off the tower, we can visit the Central Market and taste the famous Valencian paella as well as roaming around the stalls of this characteristic market place. We can get lost in the streets that reach the Barrio del Carmen, the lively artistic centre of town, where street art, ancient buildings and design studios live side by side. Here, we can visit two interesting art museums: IVAM (Valencia’s contemporary art museum) and the Carmen centre, a former convent with beautiful cloisters.

INFORMATION

ACCOMMODATION:
Valencia: Valencia Camper Park, 12 km from the city and near the metro: www.valenciacamperpark.com

PROCEEDING BY CAMPER TOWARDS ALICANTE


A summer destination, Alicante has surprises and picturesque corners in any season. Its name means “kissed by the sun” and it is divided into three areas: the port, the historical centre and the modern city. Starting from the tourist port, we promenade along the Paseo dela Explanada and the Rambla. We then move up towards the high Santa Barbara castle, a fortress of Arab origin, where we visit the many rooms and the museum of the city of Alicante. An enchanting view is guaranteed, especially towards the crystal blue sea. Then let’s move down again towards the old city! Our destination is the Barrio de santa Cruz, the most charming area, untouched by time, which looks like an Andalusian hamlet: little white houses, azulejos, coloured pots, paintings on the walls. A lively atmosphere that is difficult to describe. Another stop is the free Museum of Contemporary Art (MACA) , with local artists’ collections, and the Gothic church of Santa Maria.

From here, we board our camper van again to move inland, towards Murcia.

INFORMATION

ACCOMMODATION:
Alicante: Camper Park Alicante, El Campello area in Carrer Llaurados, www.ji-tare.wix.com/camperelcampello

LET’S EXPLORE MURCIA


The capital city of the eponymous region holds many traces of its past; among the many remains worth exploring, a special place must be reserved for the Almunia Real, the ancient residence of the Arab kings.

At the heart of the old pedestrian quarters, extending north of the Segura river, we find the Catedral, with its sumptuous Capilla de los Véle plateresque decorations and museum. Inside, we find Gothic paintings, wood sculptures and sacred silver works. The Murcia cathedral used to be an ancient Arab mosque, and there are still traces of its Muslim past. The Bishop’s Palace, on the right hand side, was also an Arab building, and there are legends about the underground caves connecting these two buildings. The Murcia cathedral is characterised by an original mix of different styles, and the bell tower is the area where this is most evident. A mooresque 19th century building. Towards the west we find the main shopping street, Gran Via Escultor Salzillo. The Salzillo Museum contains wood sculptures created for the “pasos della Semana Santa”, carried over the repentants’ shoulders during the Holy Week’s spectacular processions.
Murcia is famous for its Easter processions. After the Holy Week celebrations, there is a week-long Spring festival, with concerts and parades in the city gardens, known as "Barracas". Here, you can taste the local cuisine. Among the many celebrations, we must highlight the Tuesday known as Bando de la huerta, and the Saturday when the “funeral of the sardine” is held, which is now a Festival of International Tourist Interest. Furthermore, let’s remember the Museo Nacional de Arqueologìa Maritima, with its many significant Carthaginian, Phoenician and Roman findings.

From here, we proceed towards the sea, once again, and on board of our camper we go to discover Cartagena.

DISCOVERING CARTAGENA


The port of Cartagena, on the Mediterranean Costa Cálida, has been appreciated since Carthaginians times. It is not a coincidence that this city was the main Carthaginian centre in Spain, and also the place from which Hannibal departed to start the Second Punic War. Because of its strategic position along the Murcia coastline, it was inhabited by different cultures, and each left traces of their historical and artistic developments. A visit to the city and its museums will enable us to connect with the history of a city that has a strong connection with the sea.
This maritime town that attracted the interest of Carthaginians and Romans, owes its current name to the ancient Latin name Cartago Nova. Cartagena was also Arab, until its re-conquest by Ferdinand III the Holy, who annexed it to the Kingdom of Castile.

The rich heritage of Cartagena extends to the piers of the tourist harbour. The Sea Walls, built under Charles III (18th century), mark the the border of the historical centre, with the City Hall, a jewel of early 20th century modernist architecture, at the entrance.
Going towards Parco Torres (behind the sea walls), we find the Ancient Cathedral. This is Cartagena’s most ancient church (13th century), whose remains rest on the steps of a Roman Theatre that was discovered in 1987. Built in the 1st century BC, together with the one in Merida is one of Spain’s most important. The remains found in this site can be seen in the Museum of the Roman Theatre.

Another element with a clear reference to the sea can be found right in front of the Mediterranean sea: the prototype of the submarine invented by Isaac Peral, a celebrated son of this city. The National Museum of Submarine Archaeology ARQUA ( on Paseo Alfonso XII, 22) hosts the National Centre for Underwater Research, whose discoveries improve our knowledge of ancient naval construction, commerce and navigation.

The archaeological area of Molinete, the colonnade of Morería Baja and the Bizantine walls, that are actually Roman despite their name, are further testimony of the city’s splendour in Roman times. The Augusteum and Decumano are especially worth a visit. The former holds the remains of the ancient forum, a major public building, judging from its luxury marble flooring. The latter is a site annexed to the Quarter of the Roman Forum, a tourist area where several rooms of the city’s Roman Baths are located. On the other hand, the Casa de la Fortuna, built in the 1st century BC and owned by an affluent family, provides an example of what life was like during the Roman Empire.

Inside the Torres park lies the Castle of Concepción. Built atop a hill, it has been a fortress for Carthaginians, Romans, Visigots, Arabs and Castilans and today it hosts the Centre for the Interpretation of the History of Medieval Cartagena. In fact, military defence buildings have always featured in the city. One example is Forte Navidad, built in mid 19th century and today Centre for the Interpretation of Defensive Military Architecture of Cartagena and the Mediterranean. We also recommend visiting the Refuge-Museum of Civil War, a series of galleries used during the war for protection against air raids.

In order to find Cartagena’s modernist architecture, you need to take via Mayor, which starts from Town square, and its surroundings. Here you find the Casa Cervantes and Casa Llagostera, the work of Cartagena architect Victor Beltrí, characterised by belvederes, wrought iron works and bronze relief with allegorical figures. Other representative buildings of this artistic strand are the Casinò, the Gran Hotel, the Railway Station and the Casa Maestre and Casa Dorda. These are elegant bourgeois monuments that speak of the economic development of this region, driven by mining and industry between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The modernist Aguirre palace (with a modernist building attached, hosting the Regional Museum of Modern Art MURAM) and neoclassical Pedreño palace are more aristocratic.

Also, the Punic Walls are found on Mount Aletes, one of the five hills surrounding Cartagena. The fishing quarter of Santa Lucia is also worth visiting.

Every year, the city hosts important cultural events, such as the World Music Festival “A Sea of Music” In the second half of September, historical festivals of Carthaginians and Romans re-enact the founding of the city by the Carthaginians and its Roman conquest.

Cuisine

The local cuisine deserves its own chapter. The landscape variety in Murcia means that at the table, garden produce meets sea and inland products. Without any doubt, in Cartagena pickles, fish, caldero" (a brothy fish risotto) and paella triumph. Salt from the many Mediterranean salt works is used to prepare pickles (tuna, or mackerel, especially) and cook fish under salt, like bream. Mullet and grouper or anglerfish soups.... come with rice cooked in the fish’s broth, which is eaten separately with garlic mayonnaise. Among the local specialities are fig bread, and "asiatico", coffee with condensed milk, cognac and cinnamon.

To taste the many regional special dishes you’ll need to visit the north west, Sierra di Moratalla, Caravaca de la Cruz and Calasparra, where Spain’s only rice with Protected Designation of Origin is produced. Rice is undoubtedly the main ingredient of a long list of recipes, such as risotto with snails or creamed with celery and turkey. Vega del Segura leads to places like Cieza, Archena (and its spa) or Molina del Segura (and its golf course), where green asparagus, beet soup or rabbit with chestnuts are some of the local delicacies.

INFORMATION

ACCOMMODATION:
Cartagena: Camperpark Cartagena, only 4km from the historical centre, www.areaautocaravanas.com

TOURIST INFORMATION:
www.spain.info
www.visitvalencia.com
www.alicante.com
www.murciaturistica.es

 
 
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