The month of March is the perfect time to visit the unique Murcian town of Cieza as it enjoys its ‘floración‘, with the surrounding countryside flooded with colour and scents.
This is one of the Region of Murcia’s most spectacular, albeit fleeting, natural shows, as the local peach, plum and nectarine trees blossom dramatically – Cieza is the largest peach-producing municipality in Europe, growing more than 130 million kilos every year.
And to celebrate what is both a beautiful experience and an economic necessity, Cieza, 24 miles north-west of the city of Murcia, immerses itself in sporting and cultural activities to take advantage of the annual phenomenon, which, in turn, proves quite a draw for tourists.
Exhibitions, open-air artisan markets, tapas trails, sporting competitions, hiking, rafting on the River Segura, photographic workshops, tastings and concerts take place, affording visitors a chance to enjoy the town’s culture, cuisine and traditions through to the end of March.
But Cieza remains a treat at any time. Its Palaeolithic and Neolithic remains are unique in the Mediterranean fringe and its cave paintings at Sima de la Serreta which have been awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO.
It’s worthwhile following the trail left by the Muslims, for it will lead to one of the most significant places of Andalusian culture and one of the most important archaeological Islamic sites in Europe: the uninhabited 11th-century town of Medina Siyâsa, in the town’s castle hill district.
The 750-dwelling settlement was one of the most important sites of occidental Islam from the 11th to 13th centuries, and is vital to 21st-century historians in telling the story of the daily routine in Al-Ándalus. The nearby Siyâsa Museum also contains two life-size reproductions of the houses.
Cieza’s also not short of natural delights either, for, as well as the annual ‘floración‘, nearby, there is the remarkable Almadenes Canyon, a gorge with walls hundreds of metres high – and something of a mecca for climbers – formed by the River Segura, where the clear water is perfect for adventure lovers, with entertaining and diverse descents for all ages and families.
Access to the Costa Cálida, Region of Murcia, is simple as it is served by Murcia-San Javier airport all year round, while Alicante airport is also nearby. Both airports are served by numerous airlines flying from a wide variety of UK and Irish airports.