History of Costa Calida, Costa Calida, Spain
The first signs of human presence along the Costa Calida can be traced back as far as 1.5 million years. In more recent times native Iberian tribes inhabited the coastline, trading with other Mediterranean cultures including the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans.
However the region was not really put on the map until the arrival of the Carthaginians in 230BC. It was then that they founded a trading depot at Cartagena, naming it Qart Hadast (meaning “new city” in Punic). The Romans named it Cartaga Nova (new Carthage) which is where the city derives its current name. When taken by the Romans in 209BC it was considered one of the richest cities in the world; largely due to its silver mines.
In 713AD the Moors (Arabs) invaded the region after defeating the Hispanic-Visigoth army of Theodomir in Cartagena. In 825 AD the Caliph of Cordoba, Abd ar-Rahman II founded the city of Murcia (though then named Mursiya) on the site of a former Roman colony. The entire region then became a Tiafa (petty kingdom) with Murcia as its capital.
Much progress was made during the years of Arabic occupation. They brought with them advances in art and architecture. Also imported by the Moors were oranges, palms and rice, in addition to the irrigation techniques needed to transform the arid landscape into a successful agricultural community. So successful were the Moors in exploiting the Segura River and irrigating the land, their system still forms the basis for current watering throughout large parts of the region.
The 11th century brought civil strife and the Caliphate was overthrown by native Spaniards to make way for an independent kingdom, including (at its height) part of the modern provinces of Alicante and Almeria.
Relative peace exuded until 1243 when the kingdom of Murcia and its Costa Calida were re-conquered by Alfonso X of Castilla and Leon. Being governed from central Spain meant changes were afoot; the city of Murcia grew and prospered, transforming itself into a political and economic centre once again. In fact the whole region benefited from this new found wealth, showing an increase in population both in the main cities/towns, and along the length of the Costa Calida. By the turn of the 18th century the city of Murcia was one of Spain’s architectural treasures, dotted with elaborate urban palaces, churches, and of course its magnificent baroque cathedral. All this largely funded by a flourishing silk industry and ongoing agricultural prosperity.
At the peak of the regions wealth and popularity disaster struck. It all started with the sacking, and subsequent looting of Murcia city by Napoleonic troops in 1810. This was followed by widespread epidemics of plague and cholera. Murcia province and the Costa Calida fell into gradual decline until modern times.
The 20th century saw the provincial capital Murcia relegated to minor city status. In 1936, during the Spanish civil war it was the site of intense fighting. Many churches and other monuments were burnt to the ground. Economical misfortune also occurred in surrounding areas, as the well established silk trade ceased to be competitive on the open market against competition brought on by man made fibres.
These days the Costa Calida and province of Murcia are largely sustained by citrus fruit farming and associated industries. Industrial development is clearly evident in parts of the interior, but in the main its coastline remains untouched by modern industry. The Costa Calida is on the up once more with wealth and (coastal) population increasing rapidly; driven by native and foreign peoples seeking permanent residency/buying 2nd homes. This has injected a cosmopolitan feel to the area, while retaining much of its community atmosphere and traditional culture.