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Lorca (Municipality, Region of Murcia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-04-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Lorca - Image by "Awuachumele" (Wikimedia Commons), 6 June 2015

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Presentation of Lorca

The municipality of Lorca (91,759 inhabitants in 2014, therefore the 3rd most populous municipality in the Region; 167,521 ha, therefore the 2nd biggest Spanish municipality by its area; municipal website) is located in the west of the Region of Murcia, 70 km of Murcia and 90 km of Cartagena.

Lorca was allegedly established by two princes, the Trojan Elio and the Greek Crota, depicted on the corner of the Corregidor's House (1750); accordingly, the town was originally named Eliocroca, that is, Sun Town. Lorca has indeed been continuously settled for at least 5,000 years. Remains of an Iberian town, surrounded by a thick wall and including a castle, a necropolis and a potter's borough, have been found; the place might have been called Ilorci. The Roman town of Eliocroca, shown on the Antonine Itinerary (3rd century), had great economical, political and social significance. Beyond the downtown, the Romans established several villae in the plain; the villa discovered in La Quintiall in 1876 yielded beautiful mosaics, exhibited in the Lorca Archeological Museum.

Lorca was one of the seven towns listed on the Treaty of Orihuela. Signed in 713, that is two years after the invasion of Spain by the Moors, by ‘Abd al-‘Aziz - the son of Musa ibn Nusair, governor of North Africa, and the Visigoth Count Theodemir (d. 743; in Arab, Tudmir); the treaty, aka Theodemir's Pact, placed the region under Muslim domination but the population was allowed to maintain the Christian religion, provided it paid a fee and did not support the enemies of the new rulers. Accordingly, the Visigoth province of Aurariola (Orihuela) was renamed Tudmir. Theodemir's Pact lists the towns of Ūriūla (Orihuela), Laqant (Alicante), Lūrqa (Lorca), Mūla (Mula), Bqsra (Begastro, today Cehegín), Bilāna (Villena), and Oyyoh / Iyyih (Ojós). Lorca remained the administrative and economical capital of the Cora of Tudmir until the foundation of the town of Murcia in 826. The kings Abd al-Ramhman III and his son Alhákem II increased the means of communication and improved the irrigation system inherited from the Romans.

After the disintegration of the Córdoba Caliphate, Lorca became in 1051 the capital of a kingdom (taifa) ruled by the Beni Lubbun brothers and spreading up to Jaén and Granada. The geographer Al-Idrisi described Lorca in 1154 as "an important fortified town established on a mountain, with a bazar and a borough surrounded by walls". The area beyond the walls was settled with several rural estates (alquerías).
King Alfonso X the Wise obtained in June 1244 the surrendering of the town, as prescribed in the Pact of Alcaraz, signed the year before. Until the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca remained a border town watching the Nasrid kingdom. The militia from Lorca contributed to several victorious battles, the most significant being the Battle of Los Alporchones (17 March 1452), celebrated by the erection of the biggest sanctuary of the town. Lorca was granted in 1271 by the Córdoba charter an administration similar to that granted to Murcia; the town was awarded in 1442 by King John II the title of "Noble Ciudad" as a reward for its constant loyalty to the crown.
Lorca was transformed in a big Christian town, with the erection of towers, the transformation of mosques into churches and the establishment of convents. The Jewish community lived in the downtown; the synagogue was the only one not to have been desecrated after the expelling of the Jews from Spain. At the end of the 15th century, Lorca counted 6,000 inhabitants.

The population of Lorca increased in the 16th century to 9,500 inhabitants, while the town lost its military significance. In 1550, the municipal territory covered 25,000 ha - its maximum area all over its history -, spreading from Huércal-Overa (Province of Almería, Andalusia) to the outskirts of Cartagena. In spite of economical decline, Lorca still counted 11,500 inhabitants at the end of the 17th century. The 18th century was Lorca's Gilded Age, the population increasing again, up to 37,834 inhabitants in 1787; the town adopted in 1717 municipal ordinances that regulated the three kinds of basic activity: rural, urban, and police. The new sharing of the land, as well as the improvement of the roads and irrigation system promoted by King Charles III was very profitable to Lorca. Rebuilt in baroque style, Lorca was then the second most important town in the Kingdom of Murcia; the Guevara Palace is considered as the best example of Baroque architecture in the Spanish Levante.
At the end of the 19th century, the development of mining attracted several immigrants, so that Lorca was the 11th most populated Spanish town. The decline of mining and periods of droughts caused massive emigration in the early 20th century.
Lorca was severely damaged by an earthquake that broke out on 11 May 2011 (magnitude, 5.1 M). The earthquake claimed 9 lives while another 324 people were injured. More than 1,000 houses had to be demolished, while 30 historical buildings were damaged.

Ivan Sache, 6 May 2015

Symbols of Lorca

The flag of Lorca (photo, photo, photo, photo) is dark red with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.
The flag hoisted in the Protocol Room of the Town Hall is bright red with the coat of arms represented in a more picturesque manner (photo).

The coat of arms of Lorca (description), of medieval origin, was designed in the 18th century. The arms are made of a shield placed on a roundish medallion surmounted by a Royal crown and surrounded by the Latin writing "LORCA SOLUM GRATUM CASTRUM SUPER ASTRA LOCATUM ENSIS MINANS PRAVIS REGNI TUTISSIMA CLAVIS" (Lorca with a pleasant soil covered with castles sword against malevolence safe key of the Kingdom).
The shield features on a field azure a castle representing the castle of Lorca and Alfonso's Tower. On the top of the castle stands King Alfonso X the Wise, holding in the right hand a sword or, as the symbol of the military power of the town and of the defence of the interests of the crown, and placing the left hand over the key or of the town. The tower is surrounded dexter by a sword or and sinister by a key or.

Ivan Sache, 6 May 2015