Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Murcia (Spain), along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
Murcia is one of the largest cities in Spain, located in the southern part of the country. The city is famous for its baroque buildings and the annual Holy Week procession as well as agricultural traditions and the local sculptor named Francisco Salzillo.
In this article, I’m sharing some of the best places to visit in Murcia as well as interesting facts and attractions that shouldn’t be missed while visiting the city.
Catedral de Murcia
The Cathedral Church of Saint Mary in Murcia is the full name of this stunning church, which reflects the Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles.
King Jaime the First consecrated the land of the mosque, where the church stands now, in 1266 to the Virgin Mary. The construction of the church didn’t begin until 1385, however, and wasn’t finished until 1467.
King Alfonso X is buried in the Gothic interior of the church. The façade was built in the 18th century, and it is considered one of the most important Baroque works in Spain.
Sitting imposingly atop a hill, the Monteagudo Castle stands out against the skyline of Murcia. The castle is located five kilometers outside the city and from its perch of 150 meters above sea level, it’s visible from almost anywhere in the city.
Monteagudo Castle dates back to the 11th century, when the Muslims reigned over the lands. Atop the fortress, there is a statue of Christ which, although it was only installed in 1951, has become an iconic emblem of the castle.
Murcia Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum in Murcia houses one of Spain’s top collections of historical items, all of which were found in the area. Walking through the 16 rooms of the museum takes you on a journey from the Paleolithic to the Bronze Age.
In these rooms, you can see art, documents, and daily items, some dating back to nearly two millennia BC. The building that houses the museum was once the Provincial Palace of Archives, but it has housed the museum since 1956.
Carrascoy and El Valle Regional Park
Murcia’s arid climate needs a bit of green, and that’s what this regional park provides. The geological diversity of the park is the most exciting, with a variation of nearly 800 meters between the high and lows of its mountains.
The park has been a conservation area since 1917 and was declared in 1931 a National Site of Natural Interest. It is named after the holm-oak groves that make up the forests it holds.
Santuario de la Fuensanta
This sanctuary is one of Murcia’s most important religious monuments. Construction started in 1694 on this Baroque church, whose lovely façade is the work of architect Toribio Martínez de la Vega.
The building has faced several renovations over time, the last one being in 1950. The sanctuary is actually built atop a medieval hermitage, which dates back to 1429.
Plaza de las Flores
Murcia’s Plaza de las Flores is one of the central gathering spaces of the city. Surrounded by 19th-century buildings, the plaza is a social place full of shops, restaurants, flower merchants, and other commerce.
The site used to be where one of the city’s oldest butchers was located, but the Carnicería Mayor was demolished at the end of the 19th century. The name “The Flower Plaza” was officially given to the plaza in 1968, although it was always called that by local residents.
Real Casino de Murcia
The Royal Casino of Murcia is one of the city’s most emblematic buildings. Architecturally, the casino is a mix of the different fashions of the second half of the 19th century, when it was built.
In 1983, the building received status as a monument of cultural interest. Today, the building is a private club, but the first floor is open to visitors and is in fact the public building most visited in all of Murcia.
Explore the beaches of Costa Calida
The Costa Cálida, or “Warm Coast”, stretches for about 250 kilometers of beaches and sand in the region of Murcia. The waters tend to be about five degrees warmer than the rest of the Mediterranean, thanks to the protected situation of the Gulf of Mazarrón, hence the name.
Settle for a day in the surf and sand, or explore some of the beaches’ sights, like El Mar Menor, Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon. The average temperature year-round is 18ºC/64ºF.
Francisco Salzillo is Murcia’s prodigal son, at least when it comes to sculpture. The Baroque artist par excellence, he was so prolific that there is now a museum dedicated to his beautiful, ornate sculptures right in the center of Murcia.
His works mostly serve to illustrate religious texts, albeit in the most ornate, gold-leafed way possible. The museum, opened in 1961, holds several of his major works, including a famed nativity scene.
Museo Ramón Gaya
The Ramón Gaya museum is dedicated to one of Spain’s best 20th-century painters, a member of the famed Generación de 27. Inspired by artists like Velazquez and Van Gogh, Gaya was prolific throughout the 20th century.
In the latter half, he donated many of his works to Murcia, and a suitable building was sought out to house them. The museum opened in 1990 with over 500 of the painter’s works.
Originally a granary, the Almudí Palace dates back to the Moorish times, although after having caught fire many times, the building we now see is actually from the 17th century.
The gorgeous façade reflects the riches that befell Murcia at this time, thanks to trade in goods such as silk, and you can see the coat of arms of the Royal Habsburg family. Today, visit to see the impressive architecture as well as the exhibition space that holds rotating art exhibits under its Tuscan-style columns.
Santa Clara Monastery & Museum
This former monastery holds a museum, open to visitors and full of art and archaeological treasures. The building is notable for its Moorish architecture, some of which were found during restoration work on the monastery.
The Arabic garden pond is the most beautiful (and famous) image of the monastery, but the porch and North Hall are also original parts of the 13th-century Islamic palace. It served also as the residency of the Catholic Kings, and finally as a monastery for Clarissan nuns.
Mercado de Veronicas
This market is Murcia’s most popular fresh market, despite, or because of, being open and in service from 1916. The building, designed by Pedro Cerdán, replaced former markets in the same spot with a sober, Modernist style.
Mercado de Veronicas, with its brick pillars and large, tall windows, almost resembles a church, and it certainly is a temple to fresh produce and fabulous meats and fish, with nearly 350 stalls of all types of food.
Romea Theatre is Murcia’s top cultural building, boasting an impressive roster of concerts, plays, and other performances. Right in the center of the city, the theater’s current façade is a lovely peach and beige neoclassical rendition.
However, it’s not the original, which opened in 1862 but has caught fire more than once. The building is named after Julian Romea, the leading actor on opening night. Rumor has it the theater is cursed, due to several fires it has undergone over the years.
Centro Comercial Nueva Condomina
When you need to get some modern-day shopping done, the impressive Centro Comercial Nueva Condomina is the place to go. The largest shopping center in Murcia, it stretches out over 165,000 square meters and boasts over 200 shops.
There are also bars and restaurants on offer, as well as a 15-screen movie theater. The shopping center is located about 20 minutes outside of Murcia’s center.
Interesting facts about Murcia
- There are around 450 000 people living in the city of Murcia.
- Murcia was founded in 825 by Abd ar-Rahman II, who was the Emir of Cordoba.
- The city is located serves as the capital of Huerta de Murcia, a comarca that is known as Europe’s orchard.
- Murcia enjoys a hot semi-arid climate with hot summers and mild winters.
- There are 28 barrios in Murcia (neighborhoods).
- Murcia is also capital of the autonomous community Región de Murcia.
- The city is the host for one of the most famous Holy Week processions in Spain.
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