Tour de Murcia: Mula
At 7 miles from Murcia and situated in a fertile valley, this small town of unique character is found. Mula fuses its Arab structure with noble mansions, a castle, palaces and monuments whose origin goes back to the time in which the Marquis of Los Vélez dominated these territories.
Mula is a characteristic yet typically Spanish town that lies north west of Murcia city; no more than a half hour’s drive. I’ve been here on two separate occasions, for two very cool festivals that the city holds annually.
Night of the Drums
Every Holy Tuesday, at midnight, Mula hosts an acoustic earthquake that lasts without interruption until 4 pm the following day. This is the Noche de los Tambores (Night of the Drums). Everyone can participate in this festival, the only requirement is to dress in a black tunic and bring a percussion instrument. If you are lucky, you may be able to witness the Pángana, a spontaneous spectacle in which two drummers compete face to face to show who can endure the most or play the best.
My friends and I only went to watch the craziness of the noise and admire nearly every town member carrying a drum (even the little ones with their mini sets strapped across their tiny shoulders) and beat away to their heart’s content with seeming dexterity of their fingers and to a chaotic harmony. The level of noise was incomprehensible and for the majority of the evening I had my fingers to my ears, not being able to bear the din and clamour, however enjoying myself nonetheless.
There is something special when you’re standing beneath a castle on a hill, waiting for the count down til 12 with excited locals, not really realising what you’re in for until you’re in it 🙂 The city’s heart beat for us and we were lucky enough to hear it.
Very similar to Murcia’s Bando De La Huerta, San Isidro occurs in May, when the changing of season is apparent. The residents dress in traditional attire of the region. The girls wear the biggest poofy skirts that have drawstrings that cinch the dress at the waist with a little white shirt with ribbons at the elbows. It usually goes with a colourful shawl and flowers in your hair with thick woolen stockings and traditional shoes.
Everyone gathers at one point on the outskirts of the town near sunset and proceeds to party down the street; Spanish music is blared from different stalls that the locals have put together. These are pulled by tractors and store all the possessions of the party-goers, food (that was prepared earlier in the day), shawls in case it gets cold and so on while the older and younger generations rest on the moving party vehicle. The procession lasts late into the evening; we arrived back to the centre at about 12pm. By this time, I was completely shattered and made my way to the house while everyone else continued with the fiesta for a few more hours.
The following day, we walked the winding streets of the town until we were able to overlook the surrounding area. The roads are steep and offer typical vistas of what a small, southern Spanish city looks like. With cats lazing in windows, women hanging their linen out to dry, young boys milling about on the street, we eventually made our way to a seemingly deserted monastery.
“In the old part of Mula, in the high part of the town, stands the Royal Monastery of La Encarnación raised on a 16th Century Hermitage where only the bell tower remains. The building is considered one of the architectural jewels of Mula.”
From this standpoint we could see all of Mula, as far as the mountains that naturally surround the Murcian village of about 16 000 people.
Los Fajardo Castle
We walked and walked, making slow progress to the top of the hill. We were on the wrong side of the mountain so we stopped and sat on the rocks, mindful of some shattered green glass which made it seem like a typical spot for locals to hang out on a Friday night. We caught our breath and took in the site of the little castle and the surrounding terracotta rooftops.
Los Fajardo Castle, may be the most emblematic monument of Mula, is up on top of the hill which protects the town. It was built towards 1525 by order of D. Pedro Fajardo, 1st Marquis of Los Vélez. The renaissance fortress of Mula was not erected for defensive purposes but rather to show the power and supremacy of the House of Vélez, as well as to prevent uprisings like the one which took place of 1520.
Mula is also a special spot in the region if you enjoy rock climbing. The area is surrounded by mountains and nature reserves if you’re into hiking.
I am lucky enough to have friends that I have been able to experience all these cool things. If you’re travelling to the Murcia region, be sure to stop by and make a point of visiting this relatively unknown area.
For more information, visit Murcia’s Tourist Website