Cartagena ( 30 minutes by car from La Manga), is an almost 3,000 years history port city. It has a fascinating history due to being inhabited by a number of great civilisations and cultures. The Roman Theater( 1st century A.D.) is a perfect example of the Roman architecture. It was built in Emperor Augusto time and it is completely restored. The Fortune House is a villa plenty of mosaics and paintings. The Punic Wall stands on Monte Aletes, one of the five hills surrounding Cartagena. This is the location of the Visitor Centre for this site, dating from the third century B.C.
Santa María Cathedral ruins (18th century), which was destroyed in 1939, reminds the Spanish Civil War. A modern art museum is located in the Aguirre palace (early 20th century), while ARQUA is the national museum of underwater archaeology. You can take the panoramic glass lift to the Concepción Castle, the highest point in the city, which served as a fortress. The best way to learn more about the Modernist architecture of Cartagena is to take a walk along the Calle Mayor, which leads off the Plaza del Ayuntamiento square, and around the surrounding area. Very near from the city you can find the excellent Costa Cálida beaches.
The gastronomy in Cartagena is very rich, the star dishes are products preserved in brine, fish, rice dishes and paellas. The caldero (casseroles) rice with grey mullet, monkfish, grouper… consist of rice cooked in fish stock and accompanied by a garlic mayonnaise known as ali-oli. Fig bread is a regional speciality, and Cartagena’s typical asiático, made from condensed milk, licor 43 ( a liquor made in the city) and cinnamon, is the ideal accompaniment to coffee.
Furthermore, in the last few years Cartagena is the destiny of many cruises.
70 kms away from La Manga we find the capital city of the región, Murcia, a services city and universitary town. In Cardenal Belluga square you will find the Cathedral, with a mix of architectural styles, from gothic to barroque and the Bishop palace, a colourful building from 18th century.
Pedestrian areas cover most of the old town of the city, around Platería and Trapería Streets, the main streets of the old town. The Casino, 20th century, in Trapería, is an old social club with a very luxury interior.
Next to the Segura river you can take a walk along the Malecon boulebard through its beautiful gardens. In Carrascoy and the Valley regional park there are green areas where you can walk around and panoramic views from the Fuensanta sanctuary, a baroque church from thr 17th century. You can also find the remains of part of the arabic wall that are still visible in different places around the city .
You can enjoy some of the typical tapas in Murcia, such as marineras, caballitos, matrimonios or pasteles de carne (meat pie) in the Plaza de las Flores. Other typical dishes are michirones, Murcian salad, pisto or rice dishes. And for dessert the paparajotes: lemon tree leaves coated in a dough made of flour, eggs, milk and grated lemon peel, which are fried and then dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
CARAVACA DE LA CRUZ
In the interior of the region we find Caravaca de la Cruz or more commonly Caravaca (less than 150 km from La Manga, about an hour and a half by car)). It is one of the fifth holy cities of Catholic Christianity in the world awarded to be allowed to celebrate the perpetual jubilee each seven years at the Chapel of La Vera Cruz. La vera Cruz, venerated since the 18th century, is believed to have a piece of the cross where Jesus Christ was dead. There are interesting 16th century churches such as, the Soledad, the Salvador, the Convento of the Carmelites, the Monasterio of Santa Clara or the Chapel of La Vera Cruz .
In Caravaca the typical dishes are the Tartera (lamb roasted with potatoes, onions and pinenuts), the Empedrado ( probably the most typical dish made with beans, rice and brine cod) and the Migas, the most famous dish in the area made with flour, water and olive oil. The Yemas of Caravaca are the traditional sweet, made with yolks and sugar, and the Mazapán, with yolks, sugar and almonds.
Águilas (about 1 hour from La Manga, 100 kms) is a port city with a long fishing tradition, a wide tourist offer and a vast litoral. You can find lonely coves , cristal water beaches and one of the best places for diving in the Mediterranean sea due to its rocky bottom, overall in The Isla del Fraile and Cabo Cope. In the city centre it is worth to visit the beautiful gardens with centenary ficus in the Plaza de España, the Town Hall ( 19th century) , or San José church, where you can see the statue of the patron saint, from Salzillo school. In the highest point of the city you will find the fortress castle of San Juan de las Águilas which was built in 1579 to protect the city and below de castle, the harbour and the white and black stripes lighthouse, which is working since the 19th century.
The typical dishes in Águilas are red mullet, shrimps, tomatoes, capers or the tradicional cold meat. Also fish soup, escabeches, ajo colorao, octopus salad or arroz a banda ( rice with sea food and ñoras, sweet peppers).
Lorca ( 110 km, 1.10 hours from La Manga). This city is known as “the baroque city” because we can find a huge number of baroque buildings, including churches, convents, houses and palaces. It is also known as the “ciudad de sol”, the city of the sun. It is the second largest surface area in Spain. Lorca is famous for its castle, the baroque architecture or the holy week processions, declared to be of International Tourist Interest. The old town and the castle were declared a Town of Historical and Artistic Interest in the sixties. The Columna Miliaria dating from Roman times, the Espolón Tower and the Alfonsina Tower, a Christian construction dating from after the Reconquest; or the “Porche de San Antonio”, the gate through the old wall that surrounded the city (10th century) are good examples of the different cultures that have inhabited the city. Lorca is considered to have more monuments than any other city in the región. You can visit the ex collegiate church of San Patricio, many churches and convents from different ages and styles; singular buldings and palaces such as the Guevara palace, , the Condes de San Julián palace or Mula’s house. Through the “workshop of time”, the visitor can visit different tourist places in the city including a ride in a tourist train, the entrance to monuments and museums as the Archaelogical museum or the museum of the main brotherhoods of the holy week, the Paso Blanco, the Paso Azul, the Paso Morado or the Paso Encarnado, and visits to the castle and the Synagogue, the only in Spain which was not turned into a Church afterwards.
Lorca also extends to the Mediterranean. There are many wild beaches and virgen coves in its 8 km coast line surrounded by hills. Some of the popular beaches are Calnegre, El Muerto beach, La Galera or Baño de las mujeres.