Lorca – A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

lorca earthquakeOn the 11th May 2011 an earthquake hit the town of Lorca in Spain. 9 people died and 10,000 people were left homeless. Significant damage was caused to local buildings by the 5.1 magnitude quake and, two and a half years later, the town is still in a state of repair and rebuild. Scaffolding supports many exterior walls and even the tourist information office is being held up by large metal beams and rods. However, life goes on around me as people do their daily shopping or meet up with friends for a coffee.
DSCF2479I find the Belen, a traditional nativity scene which most towns and cities display for the public. It is housed in the beautiful Palace of Guevara surrounded by the ornate columns of the courtyard. There is an overriding theme of Egypt in the miniature models complete with Nile crocodiles and elephants. It also features well known Lorca buildings such as the Collegiate Church of Saint Patrick and the Plaza de Espana.
paso azul 2Apart from the 2011 earthquake, Lorca is well known for the Semana Santa Festival which takes place at Easter each year. Two brotherhoods (Blue and White) compete in a colourful display of costumes depicting religious scenes as they parade through the streets. In the Church of San Francisco I find a new photographic exhibition of the festival. The photos capture the excitement and energy of the parade and when I enquire of the photographer I am pointed in the direction of a young man who I had thought was just another interested passer-by but who is actually David Giner, the imaginative creator of the work.
DSCF2511The church of San Francisco shows little sign of damage from the earthquake. It was one of the early historic sites to be repaired. However, the Collegiate Church of Saint Patrick is still surrounded by tall cranes and many others are closed to the public. Lorca is rising again like a phoenix from the ashes with a project of restoration but many people are still waiting for somewhere to live in the town and perhaps the construction of apartments has not received the same level of priority as the historic treasures.
DSCF2468I drive up to the Fortress of the Sun, a medieval castle which overlooks the town from a hill to the north. There are no cars in the parking area, it is December and not the height of the tourist season but I wonder if people have stopped seeing Lorca as a tourist destination following the earthquake. The truth is that there is still a lot to see and do in the town and supporting the local people and the tourist sites can only help speed up the recovery process.


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