Orihuela (Alicante)

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Orihuela (Alicante)


Orihuela is located in the province of Alicante in the autonomous community of Valencia. It has an area of 365 km² and a population of around 80,000. The capital of the county La Vega Baja del Segura (natural region of the River Segura); it has been the capital of a province and an episcopal see.

The River Segura crosses the town and is believed to be the main reason that it was founded. The town was colonised by the Romans, who named it Orcelis and later Aurariola, which influenced its current name.

In 576, it was the political centre of the Visigothic province of Aurariola and held a certain degree of political relevance during the Almoravid domination. In 1366, it passed to the kingdom of Valencia. In 1437, it was granted city status and in 1707, the emperor Carlos V declared Orihuela the capital of the province. In 1737, a significant amount of the province of Orihuela broke away and the province of Alicante came into being.

Despite being closer to the city of Murcia, Orihuela is currently within the province of Alicante. The poet Miguel Hernández (1910-1942) is one of the city’s most illustrious figures.


Orihuela boasts several beaches, two marinas and golf courses making it a popular tourist destination. In its historic centre, there are five national monuments and one of the first Holy Week museums in Spain.

The cathedral, castle, Santa Justa y Santa Rufina church, Santiago church and Baroque Santo Domingo church must not be missed.


Orihuela’s Holy Week is one of the most outstanding religious and cultural expressions in Spain. It was granted International Tourist Interest status in 2010 and has a series of remarkable features that make it unique. One of the most impressive processions takes place on the night of Maundy Thursday: “El Silencio”, presided by the Holy Christ of Silence sculpture, during which two long rows of penitents donning Capuchin habits with their faces covered, file through the crowd in complete silence. The only light that illuminates their path is from the lanterns they carry as the city stands in darkness with all street lighting turned off.

The Jesus Christ of Consolation sculpture, a piece by José Puchol (1795), also plays a central role.

It is during the procession of this sculpture that, amid the solemn silence, a choir of men singing the “Canto de la Pasión” (Song of Passion) can be heard. Unique to Orihuela, this intangible expression dates to the sixteenth century and has been transmitted orally until our times.

The Holy Entombment procession on Holy Saturday is also a highlight of the week. Nominated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, it is possibly the most distinctive procession during Orihuela’s Holy Week, as it represents official mourning, during which the entire local government participate.

The city of Orihuela also celebrates its Moors and Christians festival with pomp and circumstance in July every year.