The historical evolution of the Oriental region of Murcia is determined by the events resulting from the use of its natural resources.
After the heyday of the Oriental region during the Roman era, driven in part by the great attraction of the medicinal hot springs located today in the municipality of Fortuna, this area suffered a period of recession that corresponds with the Islamic era.
Population levels fell as a result of the abandonment of land owing to the precarious state of agriculture, caused in large part by the severe semi-arid weather conditions of the territory.
The Oriental region is divided into two municipalities: Abanilla and Fortuna. The latter, the most populous, is recognized as its capital.
Archaeological findings prove that the territory of the Oriental region of Murcia was occupied from prehistoric times. In Abanilla there is a deposit of fossils, the Sierra de Quibas Paleontological Deposit, which, if its estimated antiquity is proven, could be confirmed as one of the oldest human remains deposits in Spain and Europe.
Abanilla borders to the east with the province of Alicante, to the north with Jumilla and to the west and south with Fortuna. According to data from 2019 there are 6,127 inhabitants within its territory.
Under the Roman occupation, the Oriental region was an obligatory passage between the Fortuna and Archena hot springs and the Via Pretoria that passed through Yecla and Pinoso.
The origin of the name Abanilla is found in the Islamic word Al-Banylan
. The aljama, the alcazaba and the mosque are the main buildings dating from the Arab era of Abanilla.
After the Christian reoccupation, the territory was in constant dispute between the Crowns of Castile and Aragon. In the year 1434, a descendant of the Rocafull yielded Abanilla to the Order of Calatrava, so Abanilla and Orihuela separated with one belonging to the Crown of Castile and the other to Aragon, which began a period of constant fights between both populations. In the 19th century the municipality became independent and integrated into national life.
Fortuna borders to the north with the municipality of Jumilla, to the east with that of Abanilla, to the south with the Huerta de Murcia region and to the west with the Vega del Segura. It has a population of 10,112 inhabitants (data from 2019).
This municipality in the Oriental region is particularly known for the Leana Spa, for its great archaeological heritage and for its Ibero-Roman Soda festivals, some of the most important historical festivals in the Region of Murcia, which are held in August and have been designated of Regional Tourist Interest.
Fortuna's history has been shaped by the medicinal mineral hot springs that spring from its soil. These waters have been used, throughout the centuries, by the different civilizations that through time have occupied the territory. The Iberians already used these waters and the Romans, in the 1st century, built an architectural complex that included rest areas, accommodation, baths and even a sanctuary.
The Arabs built a new spa, annexed to the first one, which was used for more than five hundred years, but an earthquake caused the spring to change its direction so it was left to fall into disuse.
At the end of the 19th century, with the thermal waters of the municipality now in private hands, the current spa and the first hotel was built, The Hotel Balneario, which is the oldest in the province of Murcia.
Today, Fortuna's economy is based on agriculture, mainly rain-fed crops, marble, stone and plaster quarrying, and health tourism.