Along with Lorca and Águilas, Puerto Lumbreras forms part of the Alto Guadalentín area of Murcia, and shares with these two neighbours a landscape which alternates between mountains such as the Cabezo de la Jara (1,242 metres) - which features an astronomical observatory - and the fertile lowlands of the Guadalentín valley: these predominate in the El Esparragal and Puerto Adentro districts, and provide land for the cultivation of crops including lettuces, melons and flowers.
Through the centre of the town runs the Rambla de Nogalte, which was vital to the growth of Puerto Lumbreras in the 18th century when underground water sources were tapped to support the growing population. However, the rambla has not always been positive in the area’s development: on 19th October 1973, flash flooding during a “gota fría” resulted in 85 lives being lost and devastating economic losses.
The rambla and the castle are the two dominant features not only in the town today but also in its history, which began during the period of the Argaric culture in the second millennium BC. There were various human settlements in the area of Puerto Lumbreras, not only in fortified villages on the hilltops but also on the well protected plain. When the Romans arrived in Spain, though, the area was severely de-populated, possibly because the main communications route, the Via Augusta, passed through La Parroquia on its way between Lorca and Vélez Rubio rather than following this southern route through the mountains.
The Moors came to the area in the 8th century and later built the Nogalte castle to control the frontier with the Kingdom of Granada, and the network of defences was completed by towers in El Esparragal and La Hoya.
After the Reconquista in the 13th century Puerto Lumbreras was a frontier town between the Christians and the Moors, and this dangerous location made it an unattractive place for people to live and for an economy to develop despite the protection afforded by the castle. However, in the 18th century the population finally grew and became stable, many inhabitants living in the cave houses just below the castle. Some of these cave houses have been converted into an interesting ethnographic museum, for which guided visits can be arranged via the tourist office, and it was around the time when they were first inhabited that the name of the town was changed from Puerto Nogalte to Puerto Lumbreras. In the same period the church was built, agriculture and craftsmanship prospered, and the water supply was improved.
In fact, the water supply and the name of the town are closely connected, as it was through "lumbreras" (or lamp-holes) that the Moors first gathered water from an underground source beneath the bed of the Rambla de Nogalte.
Like every town in the Region of Murcia Puerto Lumbreras welcomes visitors all year round, but especially during the Fiestas Patronales in October and the Easter Week processions. Among the traditional gastronomic dishes of Puerto Lumbreras are migas, which fill the stomach on cold, rainy days, and the pork products consumed at “matanzas”, although the locals are also fond of a couple of confectonary specialities!.
Where is Puerto Lumbreras?
Click for map, Puerto Lumbreras.