March 7, 2018
Caravaca: A top cultural and religious destination
The beautiful town of Caravaca de la Cruz, located between Murcia and Granada in southeastern Spain, is widely known for its great historic and religious significance, and its wealth of monuments that still bear witness to this past. Most notable among them is the Santuario de la Vera Cruz (Sanctuary of the True Cross), which draws pilgrims from all over the world who follow the Camino de Levante (the Levante Way) to pay homage to one of the great religious relics of the world.
The world’s fifth Holy City
In the Catholic religion, there are five Holy Cities in the world, and Caravaca de la Cruz is the fifth, after Santiago de Compostela, Santo Toribio de Liébana, Rome and Jerusalem. Since the 13th century, the city has been home to one of the fragments of the “Lignum Crucis”, the wood from the cross on which Jesus Christ died. According to the story, the wood was carried to the Sanctuary by two angels. This has led to the city being declared a place of pilgrimage, all the more so since Pope John Paul II granted Caravaca de la Cruz a Holy Jubilee Year in perpetuity.
Visitors may wish to follow the pilgrimage route, which leaves from the center of Orihuela and ends at the Sanctuary. Whether trekkers are religious pilgrims or just enthusiasts of culture and nature, the Levante Way promises a unique and unforgettable journey through southeastern Spain. Many travelers choose to set out on the route after celebrating the Holy Week festivities in Orihuela. No matter when you begin, the kilometers that connect the two cities are filled with beauty, history and culture.
Orihuela itself offers great sites like the Church of Santas Justa and Rufina, and the Palm Grove of San Antón. Along the route, pilgrims traverse rich fertile land dotted with centuries old hermitages, churches, the thermal baths of Mula, and green forested mountains. Once in Caravaca, the main attraction is likely to be the Sanctuary – but don’t overlook the monuments and ruins left over centuries of time by several different civilizations.
History and monuments of Caravaca
The area of Caravaca has been inhabited by the Argaric, Iberian, and Roman cultures, but its urban structure reveals a distinctly Moorish past. After the land was reclaimed from the Moors, Caravaca entered a new period of splendor in the 16th and 17th centuries, as it became the political center of a vast territory. Its plentiful monuments are evidence of its historical importance. One of the main features is the castle that rises up from Caravaca, of Moorish origin but later extended in the 15th century. Its 14 towers safeguard the shrine of the holy relic, the Santísima Vera Cruz. Caravaca’s cultural tour also includes the church of Soledad, which today is the Archaeological Museum; the Carmelitas Convent, founded by Saint John of the Cross; and much, much more.
Whether your group will be trekking the Levante Way or just passing through Caravaca, this village is filled with cultural attraction. It is sure to be a highlight of any Murcian tour – get in touch with us today to start planning your journey!