Ricote Valley & Cieza
If there is a place where the subtle essence of Arabic culture endures, it is in the
Ricote Valley, which had a sizeable Moorish population right up until their
expulsion in the 17th century. The districts of Abarán, Archena, Blanca, Ojós, Ricote,
Ulea and Villanueva del Segura are all located along the valley, a lush, verdant
garden that snakes its way along the banks of the River Segura. This fertile valley
is firmly rooted in its Arabic past, evidence of which is provided by its irrigation
and cultivation systems, such as the numerous water-wheels that were used to
raise water from the river to irrigate the outlying fields.
Over recent years, river beaches have emerged as a new option complementing
the range of activities in the Region’s interior. Far from the coast, visitors can spend
an enjoyable day at the “beach” on the banks of the River Segura at the river
beaches in the districts of Abarán and Blanca.
In addition to the beauty of the surroundings and its ethnographic heritage, the
Ricote Valley area is a particularly attractive setting for activities such as trekking,
climbing, rafting on the River Segura or horse-back excursions.
Bordering the Ricote Valley, the district of Cieza has numerous outstanding
UNESCO World Heritage listed rock art sites. The district has the only examples
of Palaeolithic rock art in the Region. Highlights from the Neolithic period include
the Cueva de la Serreta and the Barranco de los Grajos group of shelters.
The Iberians and Muslims also left their legacy. Dating back to Islamic times, the
Medina Siyâsa archaeological site is one of the most important from Western
Islamic culture. A large part of the remains found and a full-size reconstruction of
two houses can be seen in the museum of the same name.
Another highlight in rural Cieza is when the trees are in bloom and at their
maximum splendour, burgeoning with blossom in a wide variety of colours. A series
of what are called ‘Blossom Routes’ have recently been set up here, allowing
visitors to enjoy landscapes of unparalleled beauty, which can be combined with
cultural visits, sports and other activities.