History of Región de Murcia
The territory known today as Murcia has been inhabited by man for over 1,500,000 years, and this human presence has been a constant factor in the development of the Murcian landscape.
The first evidence of the presence of man dates back to the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon periods, thought archaeological finds become more abundant from Neolithic times onwards.
Iron Age remains show the beginning of agricultural development and the domestication of livestock, which accelerated during the Iberian period, while later, commercial activity came to the fore with the Phoenecians, Greeks and Carthaginians. When the Romans arrived, the region entered a period of immense growth as both an economic and political centre in the Mediterranean that was to go on for more than 600 years.
This was followed by an extended period of political instability – a consequence of the disintegration of the Roman Empire – and so began a long spell of Arab domination, beginning in 713 AD. Not only did they officially found the city of Murcia, but they initiated the large-scale exploitation of the Segura river valley, creating a complex irrigation system composed of canals, dams and waterwheels – the forerunner of today’s irrigation network – which enabled them to reap the maximum benefit from the vast expanse of fertile land surrounding the city.
Military pressures from the north and internal political disorders heralded the end of this territory, which fell in 1243 under the vassalage of Castile, and the remains of Andalusia were finally incorporated into this kingdom with the signing of the Granada Peach Treaty in 1492. From then on, peace came to the Murcian region, and it enjoyed a sustained period of economic and demographic growth, characterised by a major industrial revolution and the rise of in-demand minerals, which then – as the mines eventually were cleaned out – developed into agriculture and tourism. During that time, it remained a vassal kingdom of Spain until the reforms in the liberal constitution of 1812, before finally becoming an autonomous region in 1982.