Phoenix Car Club

Phoenix Car Club

Costa Blanca (South) & Vega Baja

Santuario de Santa Eulalia de Merida (Totana)

21st November 2017: Ace Café to Santuario de Santa Eulalia de Merida (Totana)

10:00 and the temperature was 18°C, bright and sunny with no wind. Perfect for a drive! Some 17 cars arrived at the Ace Café, quite a mixture; capacities from 602cc to 5670, horsepower from 29 to 345, weight 600kg to 1570kg,Car ages 1 to 79!  . Members from the UK, Sweden,The Netherlands and France. Quite an assortment!

At 10:35 the convoy made its way through Los Montesenos and Torremendo onto flowing “A” roads passing, to our right, the azur blue of lake Pedrera; onwards to where the local signs say that snails are protected!. Through the almost dessert like “moonscape”, crossing into Murcia.

The next stretch was increasingly urban, through Torreaguer and Los Garres, skirting Algezares and La Alberca where speed limits of 50kph and the odd traffic light seemed to help keep us together. As we hit the first major roundabout just before El Palmar and indeed the staggered lights in El Palmar, here the convoy was split. The lead half dozen or so cars stopping a kilometre up the road allowing us all to regroup. Back to countryside, a further 6 kms (totalling 57kms) and we reached our coffee /comfort break at Sueños Cafeteria, Vereda de las Palmeras, 34, 30834 Murcia (37°55’29.5″N 1°13’37.7″W). Decent coffee and tapas; good bbq at the weekend.

A pleasant 23kms of country “A” roads took us into the outskirts of Alhama de Murcia where we drove under the railway line and joined the N-340a for a cruise towards Totana, the turn towards Aledo ending in a twisty climb to the Santuario de Santa Eulalia de Merida.

Nowhere on the route are there speed limits in excess of 90kph, indeed the 20 kilometres or so of the urban roads are restricted to 40 or 50kph.

The Santuario de Santa Eulalia de Merida cherishes Saint Eulalia, a devout Christian virgin who, aged 12–14, in contrast to the resurgence of Roman paganism. ran away to the law court of the governor Dacian at Emerita, professed herself a Christian, insulted the pagan gods and emperor Maximian, and challenged the authorities to martyr her. She was then stripped by the soldiers, tortured with hooks and torches, and burnt at the stake, suffocating from smoke inhalation, whilst taunting her torturers. As she died a dove flew from her mouth, frightening away the soldiers, whilst a miraculous snow fell covering her. She is regarded, in Catholicism, as the patron saint of snow (inclement weather) days.

The site was occupied from 1257 by the religious military order of Santiago, though the Sanctuary’s origins are from 1573, the murals, were begun around 1603and were refined throughout the 17th and 18th Century. As the church remains consecrated and offers numerous Sunday services a Sunday visit was not possible..

A 30 minute visit to the Sanctuary, where most seemed touched by the craftsmanship of the inverted boat like roof, the beauty of the murals, altarpiece and statues whilst a little perplexed by the model of 17th/18th century sailing ship hanging from the ceiling. Apparantly the later was offering from sailors to St. Eulaliafor safe voyages. Quite spectacular; a good example of one of the “hidden jems” of Spain.

We then backtrack 4 kilometres to the restaurant (Restaurante Venta la Rata, Carretera La Santa, 185, 37°47’13.6″N 1°31’30.2″W) whose extensive parking was available on this weekday. The restaurant is large and extremely busy but they, using soft partitions, isolated us from the hubbub of the largely Spanish diners. As we arrived, bread and allioli were there to sustain those until their further three courses arrived! The food and drink was to a good standard; atleast there were no complaints.

After the luncheon, three cars drove back towards the Sanctuary roundabout, turning left towards the Mirador del Corazon del Jesus (the large white statue of Christ, 37°47’51.8″N 1°33’11.2″W) up a largely single track, tortuous climb; quite unsuitable for the convoy. The views are spectacular, to the west; the castle at Aledo, to the south the valleys of Torrealvilla and Totana.

I would like to think that “a good day was had by all!”

Chris Grube



21st November 2017: Ace Café to Santuario de Santa Eulalia de Merida (Totana)