Lorca is so dry and cracked you want to feel sorry for it. Old men stand atop the bridge and look down at a dry riverbed, occasionally spitting over the railing just to spite the staunch land. The setting is rugged and beautiful. An ancient stone milestone, now affixed to the Casa de Los Ponce de León in San Vicente square, bears an inscription likely dating the town to the ancient Roman city of Dioclecianus.
Lorca, known as the city of a hundred coats of arms, was the capital of a rough and tumble borderland during the battles between Moors and the Visigoths, who held the city and the line of the frontier to the north, and later the Christians and the Moors, who held the city and the line of the frontier to the south. Throughout this area you’ll see plenty of defensive watchtowers, crumbling walls and hollowed out castles, all of which blend into the red, orange and yellow landscape like the natural spires, mesas and crags around them.
The defensive castle overlooking the city, to which the Moorish inhabitants of Lorca retreated during the final stages of the Christian Reconquest, was built during the 13th century. Were it not for the bold Alphonsine Tower, added later during the Christian reign of Alfonso X after the city had been retaken in 1243, the remaining compound would be a pitiful heap, little more than a foundation with a few traces of turrets and most of the crenels lost. On Calle Lope Gisbert you will find a number of local crafts shops, including the Centro de Artesanía, selling the traditional jarapas, which look like colorful patchwork carpets. This street runs through the oldest area of the town.
The main Plaza de España, in the city center, is parked with cars and surrounded by the Pósito y Juzgados, a 16th-century granary, the Palacio del Corregidor (Mayor’s Palace) and the Colegiata de San Patricio (St. Patrick’s Collegiate Church), begun in 1533 but not completed until 1704 and one of the most ornamental of Lorca’s monuments.
The Museo Arqueológico, in a former palace in the Plaza de Juan Moreno, displays treasures dating back to the Copper Age, many of which were found at a nearby burial site in the Cueva Salada (Salted Cave).
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