Guide to Orihuela, a town on the Costa Blanca, Alicante, Spain.

Orihuela - Costa Blanca - Spain

Orihuela, the capital of the Vega Baja region of the southern Costa Blanca, Spain, is perhaps best known for its magnificent churches and monasteries, of which there are many. Orihuela is also renowned for being the birthplace and home of the famous Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez (1910 - 1942). Orihuela has a distinguished cultural heritage.

According to the 2005 census the city and its municipality has a population of around 75,000 and an area of 365 km2. Although lying some 20 km inland it has its own stretch of coastline (Orihuela Costa) with many fine beaches and some exclusive resorts.

Orihuela has a history stretching back to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC when there were human settlements in the area. The “El Argar” culture was known to exist there during the years 1700 to 1500 BC.

The Romans were evident in the region from about this time and the name Orihuela almost certainly derives from the Roman name for the town - Aurariola. Orihuela was important during the Visigothic period when it was the capital of a large surrounding area.

During the Arab conquest in the 8th Century the city and some of its surrounding villages were controlled by the Christian nobleman Teodomiro who halted the Muslim advance and maintained the autonomy of the territory in exchange for a tribute.

In the 9th Century Orihuela was finally conquered by the Arabs who held control until 1242 when the Christian king “Alfonso the Wise” (Alfonso X) re-conquered the city. In 1296 Orihuela became part of the Kingdom of Valencia as a provincial seat with voting rights in parliament.

The Santiago church in Orihuela was the scene of a general parliament in 1488 when Catholic kings met to raise funds for the conquest of Granada - the last Muslim stronghold in Spain. In 1564 Orihuela was granted a bishopry.

During the War of Spanish Succession (1703 - 1713) Orihuela was sacked and all its privileges removed as a punishment for supporting the pretender to the throne (Carlos III).

In 1829 the city was severely damaged by a huge earthquake that rocked the whole Vega Baja region.


Orihuela today is a mixture of the old and the new - the more interesting for visitors definitely being the old. Despite the 1829 earthquake many of the old buildings still remain, among them, the graceful cathedral - the Colegio de Santo Domingo, built between the 16th and 18th Centuries, the charming Iglesia de Santas Just y Rufina, the Santiago church (where the famous parliament took place) and the palace of Rubalcava with its sweeping marble staircase and its elegant coloured rooms - the red room, the pink room and the yellow room. The palace is mainly used now for wedding ceremonies and is an elegant and memorable location for this purpose.

The River Segura runs through the middle of Orihuela, the older part of the city being mostly north of the river.

Orihuela, of course, has its share of fiestas and celebrations, one, unique to Orihuela being the Burial Procession at Easter time, when the “Diablesa” (the female incarnation of the devil) is paraded through the streets of the city.

Agriculture has thrived, and continues to thrive, owing much to a remarkable system of irrigation channels left by the Moors (though some early ones are attributed to the Romans). Popular crops in the region are oranges, lemons, dates, almonds, hemp and corn. It is also well known for its silk and also carnations.

Orihuela’s coastline, some 20 km away boasts fine sandy beaches and popular resorts such as Cabo Roig, La Zenia and Playa Flamenca. (See Orihuela Costa)

Orihuela can be easily reached via the A-7 junctions 80 and 81 or via the CV-95 from Torrevieja.

Orihuela Links: Orihuela Map - Orihuela Weather

Nearby Places: Bigastro - Santomera - Beniel - Cox - Rafal - Benferri - Catral - San Bartolome - Dolores - Callosa de Segura - Crevillente

Golf Courses: Villamartin - Lo Romera - Las Ramblas - Campoamor Golf - La Finca - La Marquesa - Spain Golf Courses

Related: Torrevieja - Alicante - Valencia - Murcia - Elche - Orihuela Costa - Ciudad Quesada - Alicante Weather - Alicante Airport Transfers - Builders