Alcantarilla lies on the main route to Andelusia, just 7 kilometres from the capital, and offers the contrast of an obviously industrial town which is in love with its own traditions. Roman, Arabic and Christian, Alcantarilla is a cultural melting pot where the crossbreeding of all the cultures who have lived here is still evident even today after several centuries have gone by.
The mediaeval settlement was first established on the road to La Ñora. It appears in the records in 1266 as the property of Aben Hud, passing on soon after to the ownership of Queen Violante, the wife of Alphonse X. One of the many floods caused by the River Segura bursting its banks forced the inhabitants to change its original position and move it to higher ground. The expulsion of the Moors limited its agricultural growth at first, but it soon managed to recover. In the 19th century, with the abolition of the feudal estates, it gained independence as a borough. Today Alcantarilla is a town open to progress with a strong industrial foundation, as can be seen by the fact that it shares, with Murcia capital, the largest industrial estate in Spain. The extension of its borough boundary in 1987 has given it new hope for the future.
The hard work of its inhabitants does not deprive them of time for festivals and celebrations. The parades and processions light up the old centre of the town with rich images and the colourful clothing of their penitents. The Festival of their Patron, in honour of the Virgin of Health, has also received due recognition, having been granted the qualification of "Regional Tourist Interest", and is celebrated every May.As a result of a deep cultural curiosity, the "Jara Carrillo" International Literary Contest, dedicated to the brilliant local writer and journalist, now takes place here and is truly international with participants who come from the five continents.
The tourist who comes here will enjoy their visit to the Ethnological Museum of the Huerta of Murcia, which is located in a setting formed by the presence of the Alquibla, Daba and Turbedal irrigation canals. The museum and its grounds display costumes, utensils, pottery and other types of typical objects from the Huerta (the fruit and vegetable-growing area which surrounds Murcia) in several rooms indoors, while outside the irrigation system with its drainage ditches and irrigation channels, the market gardens and orchards, typical huts and cottages, and last but not least, the water wheel, are all on show. The original water wheel, which dates back to the 15th century, was used to water the countryside by way of a viaduct. The present one, from the 19th century, has been declared an Artistic Historical Monument and measures 11 metres in diameter, is 1.9 metres wide, and stands 8 metres above the surface of the water. Right opposite this museum which takes us back to ancient times and customs, can be found the hermitage of the Virgin of Health, the patron saint of the town. Another place of interest is the House of the Cayitas, a manor house which was built at the end of the 17th century and which for decades was home to the regional court of the Inquisition. The churches of San Roque and of Our Lady of Assumption are also worth a visit. On the way out of the town is the small bridge which originally gave the town its name.