Lorca, open for restoration
The itinerary starts opposite the Tourist Office and Visitor Centre with a visit to the Old Convent of La Merced. This was the home of the Mercedarian order of monks in the late Middle Ages, and later the site of a convent whose surviving remains include the arcades in the cloister (18th century), and a church with a Renaissance façade. The earthquake caused a large part of the façade to give way, and thus extensive scaffolding has been installed to sustain the structure and avoid further damage.
The itinerary continues up through the San Ginés gate towards Calle Cava street until the porch of San Antonio, the only gate into the walled enclosure still conserved in the Region of Murcia. It has Arab origins, although its typically Christian decoration dates from its subsequent remodelling in the 14th century. The earthquake made it necessary to install a system of struts. Further damage occured to the battlements on the top which were added in prior restorations. The next stop is the church of Santiago in Calle Villaescusa street. The current building dates from the 18th century and is the parish church which suffered the most serious damage in the earthquake, together with the church of the monastery of the Poor Clares which was practically destroyed. The earthquake caused the collapse of the transept, the dome and part of the main altar. Calle Santiago street leads to the Plaza de España square, completed in the 17th century and the central hub of Lorca. After the earthquake it once again became a meeting place for the local inhabitants. The surrounding areas are home to the Casa del Corregidor house, the Town Hall and the ex-collegiate church of San Patricio. The exterior appearance of the first two reveals barely any signs of the effects of the earthquake, but the damage is far more serious on the interior. Highlights of the Casa del Corregidor house include the decoration on the corner which features the monumental crest of the city of Lorca. The Town Hall has an attractive façade with arches set atop white marble columns. In a curious coincidence, its current appearance is the result of a restoration carried out after the earthquake in 1674. Unlike the previous buildings, the ex-collegiate church of San Patricio suffered serious damage its the external ornamentation. Some of the sculptures have lost fragments or have become detached and fallen on the roofs, causing holes in several segments of the ribbed vaults of the church. The building, whose construction began in the 16th century and lasted over 200 years, displays various styles ranging from Renaissance with Gothic details on the vaults of the ambulatory, to the Baroque style of the main façade. The route continues along Calle Almirante Aguilar street until the Calle Corredera. Buildings of particular interest include the Sindicato de Riegos water association dating from the late 18th century, the Agricultural Chamber, which contains almost the only example of a typical Modernist façade in Lorca, and the church of San Francisco. This is a Franciscan church dating from the 16th century, although extensively reformed in the 17th century. Its interior, which was seriously damaged by the earthquake –as was the bell tower–, has preserved some of its attractive Baroque altarpieces until the present day. These have now been moved to the Casa del Paso building, where they can be seen by the public. The itinerary now heads towards Calle Lope Gisbert street. Along the way there are buildings such as the House of the Condes de San Julián (originating in the 16th century but whose current appearance is due to remodelling in the 20th century) and the Teatro Guerra building which is home to several attractive paintings by the Lorca-born artist Muñoz Barberán. This is the oldest theatre in the Region of Murcia (1861), and the earthquake damage affected mainly the stage. This area is home to one of the most beautiful examples of Lorca's eclectic architecture, the Casino. Its façade and a large part of the interior date from 1885, with a design by the Lorca-born sculptor Manuel Martínez. Highlights include the entrance hall and the ballroom, with painted frescoes by Francisco Cayuela. Struts were installed on the façade after the earthquake to avoid any possible collapse. Nearby stands the church of San Mateo (18th century) which, despite the damage it suffered to its interior and façade, is most likely to be the first to reopen for worship after repairs. Also in Calle Lope Gisbert is the emblematic Guevara Palace. This is one of the finest examples of the civil Baroque style in eastern Spain. Its most outstanding feature is its façade which dates from 1694, with its Churrigueresque portico made in two sections. The earthquake mainly affected the staircase and some of the interior rooms, making it necessary to remove some of the furniture. Continuing on along Calle Santo Domingo street there is a chance to visit the monumental site of Santo Domingo, comprising the cloister, the church and the chapel of El Rosario. The cloister had to be dismantled due to the effects of the earthquakes, which brought down one column and two arches. In contrast, the old Dominican church has been repaired after the earthquake and is now once again open to the public. However the chapel suffered serious damage as the cupola became detached from the dome. Fortunately the restoration work has prevented its collapse. The itinerary concludes with a visit to the Archaeological Museum, located in a noble house dating from the 17th century. The earthquake seriously affected the structure and several of the items on display, which were damaged when their display cabinets were upturned. Things to remember
The route has an approximate duration of an hour and a half, and takes place every day for groups of over 25 people.
It is advisable to check availability for individual visits.
It can be complemented with guided visits to the Lorca's Embroidery Museum, which has been declared to be of International Tourist Interest and is a candidate for the UNESCO's World Heritage designation.
'Lorca through the ages' workshop
Tel. 902 400047 / +34 968479003