Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Travel Tuesday Trip to Caravaca de la Cruz

Tuesday, 13 January, 2015:

At the suggestion of Roberto Dúran, I awoke early this morning to catch a nice recliner bus for the 90 minute, 50 mile ride west to Caravaca de la Cruz, population 27,000.

The reason that the trip took so long is that this bus gets off of the high speed Autovia at every village between Murcia and Caravaca de la Cruz to provide transportation opportunities for the local citizenry.

I took the bus because there is no train station in Caravaca de la Cruz. Interestingly, the 12.80 Euros round trip bus fare was twice as expensive as the recent train trips that I've taken similar distances in the last few weeks.

Once in Caravaca de la Cruz, I ran into the same problem that I've been having on all of my recent trips, i.e., no Tourist Information Center near the train or in this case bus station and poor signage directing you to the much needed city map/information.

So, I roamed aimlessly . . .

The Templete

As it turns out, I accidentally found this important site. It is where, during the town's big May Festival the waters are blessed with the Caravaca Cross.

More on this cross in a bit, but I was still somewhat lost. I need to ask someone for help.

 José María Botía

José was standing near the Templete minding his own business when I asked him for help in finding the Tourist Information Center.

He kindly offered me directions and then stopped and said that it would be better if he just drew me a map since it was a bit complicated.

José opened his briefcase, got out paper and pen and went to work.

The Map

It turns out that José must be a cartographer because he drew me a perfect map as it turned out!

In case I ran into any trouble, he even gave me the phone number of the Chief of Police and his phone number as well. I have cut these phone numbers off this picture for the sake of their privacy.

I was on my way, thanks to a great gesture on the part of a complete stranger!

That looks important

Getting closer

 José said I'd pass an arch

A Moorish Knight

And a Christian Knight

Eying Each Other

Plain Goofy

This is a typical character from a company that makes t-shirts and other souvenirs for tourist sites all over España.

That Cross again

Too Early for Beer

But not for a church!

This was the Iglesia del Salvador built between the 16th and 17th centuries.

It had a golden altar . . .

 . . . and an interesting door

I'm getting closer!


A got my much needed city map and a slew of brochures to get me started. As it turns out the Tourist Office, though well located in terms of the city's historic sites, is just about as far as possible from the bus station as can be.

Wait, they have a Plaza de Toros?

And Moorish in style to boot!

The Nuns got a street

The first museum of the day was the Museo de la Fiesta.

Every year, on May 1st and 2nd, Caravaca de la Cruz holds a giant festival that is full of Moors, Christians and a fun looking horse race.

This museum focused on the Moorish and Christian aspects of the festival but the race of the wine horses is interwoven as well.

 Wine Saddle

 BIG Bota Bag

More on the Caballos del Vino in a bit.

As with Lorca last week, embroidery skills are a big part of this yearly two day festival that dates back to the 1700s.

Moors and Christians

 Moorish Harem?

 Two happy but rival Knights

Such detailed work

 A Caballo del Vino with
its four handlers

They will recreate and honor the tradition of taking wine to be blessed up to the Sanctuary on the hill that overlooks the city.

 One BIG Bota Bag

During the Festival, literally hundreds of Caravaca de la Cruz's citizens dress up in traditional medieval Moorish and Christian garb to add to the excitement.

Garb like this on display in the museum . . .

 Christian Helmet

Moorish Sultan

Moorish Queen

Christian King

Christian Queen

Who doesn't like a good mace

This was a good museum worth the price of admission.

Next up . . .

. . . the walk up to the combination
Fortress, Castle and Sanctuary of the Cross

First, I had to conquer this hill

The Story of Caravaca's Cross

The story goes that on May 3, 1232 A.D., the Moorish Sultan Ceyt-Abuceyt and his subjects became Christians on seeing the Miracle of the Apparition of the Santa Cruz.

The cross in question was lowered from Heaven by two angels so that Ginés Pérez Chirinos, a priest who was a prisoner in the Fortress at the time, could say Mass.

 Variations on a Cross

The Museum at the Fortress was not a great one.

This brings me to the dilemma of the 100 Euros note.

When I left La Hacienda this morning I had a few small bills and lots of Euro change that was quickly gobbled up leaving me with just a 100 Euros note to purchase items.

I knew that I needed to do this early in the day so when I got off the bus in Caravaca de la Cruz, I entered a nice clothing store to purchase, on sale, a red and black scarf for 11.99 Euros. After waiting in line patiently, I got up the cashier who ran me up but then balked at the 100 Euro note. There was simply no way for her to break that large of a bill I was told.

Sale revoked.

Attempts to break the note at the first two museums that I visited failed for the same reason.

I finally found a restaurant, that served a great lunch by the way, who said that they would gladly solve my economic plight after I ate.

In the midst of La Crisis, it seems strange to me that businesses would be willing to turn down sales because they can't break a 100 Euro note . . . just saying.

 THE Cross was in this Sanctuary

No photos allowed and I opted to obey.

Great vistas from atop the Fortress

Statue of the Caballos del Vino

It is near the starting line of the May 2nd races.

In this race up the cuesta, the horse races with four handlers in tow, one holding on to a strap at each shoulder and haunch. If any handler lets go, the horse is disqualified.

The crowd clogs the raceway and must part quickly to let the speeding horse and four handlers race by them. Once past, the crowd automatically melts back together. It is a sight to see from an elevated view on the hillside from what the videos at the museums showed.

That's the Starting Line
running through the tree's shadow

The Finish Line is about 60 meters up the hill just past the lady who is walking up to the Fortress.

Go here for a taste of the Festival, it's in Spanish but I think that you'll get the idea:

I wanted to go to the Museo de los Caballos del Vino before they closed at 2:00 for the afternoon break but they were the third museum that could not break the aforementioned 100 Euro note before my lunch break. Since it was all the cash that I had at that point, I would have to kill some time by roaming through the streets until they re-opened at 4:00.

Nice Bar, Closed for the Afternoon

Another Pilgrim Route that
hooks up with the Camino de Santiago

Peregrinos, Walk This Way

The nearby DIII Cehegin Wolves
drumming up business

I here that this chain is REALLY good
but I have yet to try one of their bars

San Juan de la Cruz

The Templete in the distance

1689 is OLD

Mary and yet another Cross

Can't have too many Caballo statues

Moorish Mosaic

Christian Mosaic

The Cross of Santiago

A Social Club?

The Chamber of Commerce?

I needed a Café con Leche

A REALLY old door

A city based on a Miracle just has to have tons of religious articles woven into the town's architecture.

One way to hammer religion into the masses consciousness is to review many of Catholicism's Mysteries of Faith as people walk the streets.

The First Joyful Mystery
The Annunciation of the Angel to Mary

The Fourth Joyful Mystery
The Presentation in the Temple

The Third Sorrowful Mystery
Jesus Crowned with Thorns

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery
Jesus Died on the Cross

The First Glorious Mystery
The Resurrection

Finally, it was 4:00 and they were OPEN!

Not for Sale

This one neither


They love horses in
Caravaca de la Cruz

Horse dressed to The Nines!

Again with the embroidery

A little on the heavy side

The horse's wear much
lighter embroidery work than this

Still, it was incredible art




Shetland Ponies for the kids
to begin honing their skills

It was a good day in Caravaca de la Cruz and I definitely want to take Laurie to the May 1-2 Festival this Spring.

That would be a GREAT day in Caravaca de la Cruz!


Olivier R said...

for the 100 euros bill, i think it's because a big part of them are false. In France they are not even used...

George said...

Olivier, aha, I see now.