The lovely Costa Calida town of Los Alcazares is located just off the N332 coastal road between Cartagena and San Javier, lapped by the tranquil, warm waters of the Mar Menor, its fine beaches attract holidaymakers from all over the world. The Spanish people themselves love this part of the coast and head here from cities like Murcia during the hot summer months.
Part of the Murcia region of south-eastern Spain, Los Alcazares has a permanent population of around 15,000 though this increases to something like 150,000 during the busy summer season. The municipal district of Los Alcazares includes about 7 km of the Mar Menor (Lesser Sea) coastline and includes some fine sandy beaches, the Mar Menor itself has a depth of no more than 7 metres and is renowned for having a temperature some 5° warmer than the surrounding Mediterranean sea. The Mar Menor also has a very high salt content and has been well known over the centuries for its healing powers - even the Romans knew of this, and built Spas at various places along the coast. Los Alcazares became an independent town in 1983 and every year enjoys a week-long celebration to remember this important event for the town.
The known history of Los Alcazares goes back to the Arab occupation of the region (8th to 13th Centuries), and the name meaning 'The Palaces' comes from the Arabic 'Al-Kazar' meaning palace or stately house.
Although the Romans had formerly built Spas in the area to make use of the healing waters, the Arabs improved and consolidated these Spas and the area became important as a resting place, for relaxation and the enjoyment of life. The Arabs also brought with them, their complex irrigation systems, developed in the middle-east and north Africa, enabling formerly arid land to be planted and used, thus agriculture became very important for Los Alcazares as it still is today. The Arabs also brought with them their unique fishing methods, particularly useful in the tranquil, shallow waters of the Mar Menor - some of these fishing methods (including one called "la encañizada") are still used to great effect today.
After the Arabs were expelled during the 13th Century, Los Alcazares became somewhat depopulated although it continued to be a fishing town. During the 16th and 17th Centuries Los Alcazares was no more than a tower with a fortified enclosure, and was used as a watering area for the cattle which grazed on the grasslands around the town. After the construction of a hermitage in 1898 Los Alcazares began to become known as a tourist resort for the people of Murcia and it became something of a 'camping site' as many tents, awnings and temporary cabins were constructed along the seafront for the purpose of a peculiar custom which became known as 'novenario' and involved the taking of at least 9 baths in the waters from the time of the festival of the Virgen del Carmen (July 16th) throughout the remainder of July and August, this custom continued until around the middle of the 20th Century.
Los Alcazares today is a busy tourist resort with a good selection of shops, bars and restaurants, and some fine beaches. It is a popular spot for water sports and the Mar Menor is a haven for all types of such sports including windsurfing, sailing, jet-skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling and swimming. For golfers there are a good range of courses nearby, with new complexes currently under construction, also the famous sports resort of La Manga is just a short drive away.
Los Alcazares has its share of fiestas and celebrations including 'La Huerta' an international festival of market gardening held in August, the Festividad de la Virgin del Carmen (16th July), and its annual Carnival held in February.
Los Alcazares can be easily accessed from the N332 coast road and from the AP-7 motorway, it is just a 10 minute drive from the nearest airport at San Javier (Murcia), other places worth visiting around Los Alcazares include Lo Pagan wit