Cieza, Region of Murcia, Spain
Cieza is the gateway to the north of the region of Murcia, a municipality covering 365 km2, with a population of around 35,000 inhabitants. It falls within the area known as the Vega Alta del Segura and is directly connected with Madrid via rail and motorway.
Cieza lies in a fertile valley, fed by the waters of the River Segura, surrounded by mountainous peaks: the Sierra de la Cabeza del Asno, the Sierra Larga, the Sierra de Ascoy, of Almorchón, the Sierra del Oro, and the Sierra de la Atalaya.
Throughout its history, Cieza has been dedicated to agriculture and today fruit growing is its principal economic activity producing more than 130 million kilos of peaches every year, making Cieza the biggest peach producing municipality in Europe.
The agricultural richness of Cieza has attracted settlers from prehistory, and has several important caves containing pre-histric rock art, including the Cueva de la Serreta in the Cañón de Almadenes, and the Barranco de los Grajos.
The Iberian-Roman epoch is represented by the settlement at Bolvax, the Argaric by Cerro de las Beatas, but the most impressive remains in Cieza are those of Medina Siyâsa, a large scale Moorish settlement which reached its peak during the 11th and 12th centuries, and was located high above the situation of the existing town. Below it, in the Archaeological Museum two of the houses excavated have been rebuilt, creating an intimate and tantalising glimpse into this fascinating culture.
Following the Christian Reconquist the town was awarded to the Order of Santiago in 1281 and the population moved down to its existing location in the valley below. Although this brought them closer to the river it also put them in a situation of danger during the 200 year period in which the Moors still ruled in Granada. Cieza was sacked in 1477, an act which is still remembered in the annual Fiestas del Escudo,in which the town is once again filled with the costumes of the Moors and Christians.
The other major celebration is the Fiesta of the town’s patron saint, San Bartolomé, which takes place in the last week of August, at the end of the fruit harvest, and is famous for its annual olive stone spitting championship.
Cieza is also famous for its spring, the “floración” when the fields are filled with millions of pink flowers as the fruit trees blossom, and is also renowned for its Semana Santa, owning a remarkable collection of sculptures which has been classified as being of regional interest.
Cieza was also an important focal point for Esparto production during the 19th and to the middle of the 20th centuries, when the advent of imported fibres destroyed the market for natural fibre products . Espartero weaving is a dying art and a small museum is dedicated to the industry, complemented by the well preserved mill by the riverbank, the Molino de Teodoro, although esparto products can still be purchased in the artisan market, Los Frailes held monthly in the town.
Other important buildings include the Iglesia y Convento de San Joaquín, the Monasterio de la Inmaculada Concepción, Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Ermita de San Bartolomé, the Ermita de la Virgen del Buen Suceso in Collado de la Atalaya, Ermita Ntra Sra del Consuelo, and the Mercado de Abastos(Julio Carrilero 1929).
Where is Cieza?
Cieza borders with Jumilla to the North, to the Northeast with Albacete, to the East with Abarán, to the South with Ricote and Mula and with Calasparra to the West.
Click for map, Cieza