Santiago de la Ribera is on the Mar Menor, the largest salt lake in Europe, which covers an area of 170 km2 and whose warm shallow waters provide an ideal location for family holidays. Not only is the swimming safer, but there is a wide range of water sports for everyone to enjoy.
The village is on the inland side of the Mar Menor, opposite La Manga and from it there is easy access to a variety of places, such as Cartagena, Torrevieja and the city of Murcia.
The village was founded in 1888 on the instigation of Fray José Barnuevo, who had the streets laid out to form perfect squares. Many people from Murcia purchased land and had houses built along the sea front, so they could escape the heat of the city in the summer and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of this fishing village.
In this way one of the first holiday destinations was created and no doubt these tourists of the 19th century enjoyed the same famous fish and rice dishes that are still prepared here today.
The long esplanade (el Paseo Colón) leads you past the large Nautical Club and then in front of the area known as la Cuidad del Aire (the City of Air), where many of the pilots from the nearby Air Base lived with their families.
After the death of Franco the Air Base ceased to be purely for Military purposes and many of the pilots left the Air Force to work for Commercial Airlines, but even today, many of the houses in this pretty area with its older spacious villas and well kept established gardens, still belong to the flying fraternity.
These pilots and their families brought sophistication and liveliness to Santiago de la Ribera and for many years there have been an abundance of good quality shops here as well as bars and restaurants, which would not normally be found in such a small place.
The Ribereños start the year by celebrating the arrival of the Three Kings on the evening of the 5th January. They arrive on a brightly lit boat and upon reaching the shore, mount the waiting horses and parade through the village throwing sweets to the eagerly waiting children.
On 3rd February the Pilgrimage to the Hermitage of San Blas is held and in the height of summer on 25th July the Fiesta of Santiago is celebrated in style, with many events, music and dancing continuing right through the night.