Spotlight on Calasparra

Image: Shutterstock/RudiErnst

Calasparra in the Region of Murcia offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. Known for its rich history and agricultural significance, Calasparra is renowned for its rice production, particularly the Calasparra Rice, a product with Denomination of Origin status, celebrated for its quality and flavor.

Situated between mountains and rivers, Calasparra provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. The Segura River flows through the town and is a popular spot for rafting and canoeing, attracting adventure enthusiasts. Additionally, the Cueva del Puerto, a spectacular cave system, offers guided tours showcasing impressive stalactites and stalagmites.

Culturally, Calasparra has several historical landmarks. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Hope, perched on a hillside overlooking the river, is a significant pilgrimage site. The town’s medieval castle ruins and the archaeological site of Villa Vieja offer glimpses into its ancient past.

Calasparra also hosts various festivals throughout the year, reflecting its vibrant local traditions. The annual Feria de Septiembre, a week-long celebration, features music, dance, and gastronomy, drawing visitors from across the region.

With its combination of natural attractions, historical sites, and cultural events, Calasparra provides a fantastic experience for visitors. This charming town in Murcia continues to preserve its heritage while embracing tourism, making it a must-visit destination.

The Rice Route

The Ruta del Arroz (Rice Route) in Calasparra offers a fascinating journey through the heart of Spain’s renowned rice-producing region. This route highlights the cultivation and cultural significance of Calasparra Rice, a product celebrated for its exceptional quality and unique growing conditions.

Visitors can explore the scenic rice fields, where the traditional methods of rice farming are still practiced. Guided tours provide insights into the meticulous process of cultivating and harvesting this prized grain. The route also includes visits to local mills, where rice is processed and packaged.

A key stop on the Ruta del Arroz is the Calasparra Rice Museum, which offers an in-depth look at the history and heritage of rice cultivation in the region. Additionally, the route features culinary experiences, allowing visitors to taste various dishes made with Calasparra Rice, showcasing its versatility and flavor.

The Ruta del Arroz provides a unique blend of agricultural education and gastronomic delight, making it a must-experience for visitors to Calasparra.

Image: Catherine McGeer
Image: Catherine McGeer
Image: Catherine McGeer

Sanctuary of Hope

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Hope, known as Santuario de la Virgen de la Esperanza, is a significant religious site located 6 kilometres from the town of Calasparra.

Originally established in the 17th century, the sanctuary began as a simple hermitage nestled in a cave above the Segura River, a natural shelter for shepherds. Over time, additional rooms and buildings were added as the site expanded. Modern developments include terraces leading down to the river, as well as service areas such as parking, a restaurant, and a hotel. Despite these expansions, the sanctuary remains a beautiful place for both recreation and prayer, and it has been declared a site of geological interest.

Perched on a hillside along the Segura River, the sanctuary is located in a stunning natural setting. The site consists of two main chapels, one of which is carved into the rock, creating a unique and serene atmosphere for worship and reflection. The sanctuary has since become a major pilgrimage site, attracting millions of visitors each year.

In addition to its religious significance, the sanctuary offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, making it a popular destination for tourists. The natural beauty, combined with the historical and cultural essence of the site, makes the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Hope a must-visit destination for those exploring Calasparra.

Image: Shutterstock/RudiErnst

Calasparra Rice Featured on The Simpsons

Calasparra Rice is so famous it has even made an appearance on The Simpsons. In the first episode of season 34, titled “Habeas Tortuga,” Homer Simpson cooks a paella using Calasparra Rice, humorously naming it “conspiracy meeting paella.” His choice of this high-quality ingredient highlighted its reputation, despite his unconventional addition of chorizo, which sparked reactions online.

Calasparra Rice was featured again in a unique promotion for the 34th season. Micro-artist Hasan Kale created a tiny portrait of Homer Simpson on a single grain of Calasparra Rice. This artwork was part of a contest by Disney+, celebrating the rice’s quality and its quirky connection to the show. This promotion further highlights the international recognition of Calasparra Rice, showcasing its cultural and culinary significance.

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!