Area guide to Los Alcazares – Murcia
Los Alcázares is a coastal spa town on the Mar Menor. It is also a municipality in the province of Murcia and sits on the Costa Cálida. The mineral-rich water of the Mar Menor is revered for its health-giving properties and is listed by the World Health Organisation as one of the healthiest places on earth. The thermal baths established by the Romans are still there today and bay attracts visitors with rheumatism, arthritis and skin problems, as there is a natural mud bath, which is claimed to give therapeutic results, comparable to those of the Black Sea.
The town has for some time been the residential choice of the wealthy and of nobility who built villas here to enjoy the scenery and the waters. The Mar Menor (Little Sea) is the largest saltwater lagoon in Europe, but connects to the Mediterranean through various channels. The temperature of the lagoon, which is higher than that of the Med, makes it a popular destination for all kinds of water sport enthusiasts, and the proximity of numerous top-flight golf courses, including the five-star La Manga course, has made it a favourite with golfers.
The town has a small population of around 15,000, although this can dramatically increase during the summer holiday season. The town, which was granted municipal autonomy in 1983, has a significant claim to fame: it was used as the movie location for the film The Garden of Eden, based on an Ernest Hemingway novel, and starring Richard E. Grant, as well as being the location for the film Green Zone, starring Matt Damon and Jason Isaacs.
The name Los Alcázares comes from the Arabic word ´Al Kazar´, meaning ‘palace’ or ´house of nobles’. However, the Romans saw the advantages of living here long before the Moors arrived and the Roman settlement dates back to 210 BC. They established the first thermal baths here and when the Moors arrived in the sixth century, they chose this part of the country to build their palaces and places of rest because of the old Roman spas and their therapeutic qualities. After the Christian reconquest of Spain Los Alcázares became an important port for fishing and trade, because of its excellent strategic position, and in more recent times, Murcia’s wealthiest families chose the coastal town as the place to build their summer residences.
The town’s Los Narejos promenade is a major attraction and is lined with restaurants, bars and shops. Visitors and residents, especially young ones, are drawn to the go-kart track that is close to Murcia’s San Javier airport. It also has an aerodrome that played an important role in the Spanish Civil War and there is an aviation museum that pays tribute to Los Alcázares as the home of the Spanish flying boat service. There is a also a marina and a large weekly market.
Los Alcázares is fortunate in being close to four airports. It is only 65km from Alicante International airport and 25km from Murcia regional airport, known as Corvera, and is also classed as ‘international’. The airport is connected to the Costa Cálida resorts by a brand new road that links to the A30 motorway network for a swift journey to many destinations on the coast. The town has an excellent bus service that connects residents with Torrevieja and Cartagena.
Los Alcázares has a number if Spanish state-run schools for all ages. However, if you are looking for a private, international school there are a number in the
Murcia region and some schools may provide transport.
Residents are well catered for in terms of healthcare. The town has a new medical centre with three consultants, GPs, nurse and auxiliary staff. Both public and private healthcare facilities are available in the town and there are two hospitals within easy reach of the town, both with 24-hour emergency departments.
While water sports, including sailing, windsurfing and kite surfing are big attractions, this area is undoubtedly a golfing paradise. The famous La Manga club is only a 20-minute drive from the town and there is La Serena Golf at the five-star Intercontinental Mar Menor Golf and Spa resort and at least six other courses, as well as being on the Nicklaus Golf Trail.
Los Alcázares has generally some of the best beaches in the Murcia region, and many of them have been awarded “Blue Flag Status” by the Spanish Tourist board based on their cleanliness, safety and atmosphere.
Los Alcázares has seven restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide. They offer traditional and modern Mediterranean cuisine. Long-time resident David Buse, blogger and food writer, says it is the best town on the Costa Calida for dining out, and his suggestions include oriental and Asian cuisine as well as gastro pubs.
The town has large Mercadona and Carrefour supermarkets, as well as an open market twice weekly where fresh fruit and vegetables are on sale. The Dos Mares shopping mall just outside the town has a range of stores including international fashion brands and other stores, as well as cafes and restaurants. And if you go to Murcia City you’ll find Ikea, Primark and other famous names.