Murcia a city in south-eastern Spain, is the capital and most populous city of the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia, and the seventh largest city in the country. It is located on the Segura River, in the Southeast of the Iberian Peninsula, noted by a mild climate with hot summers, tepid winters and scarce precipitation.
Murcia was founded by the emir of Cordoba Abd ar-Rahman II in 825 AD with the name Mursiya مورسيا and is now mainly a services city and a university town. Highlights for visitors include the Cathedral of Murcia and a number of baroque buildings, renowned local cuisine, Holy Week processions, works of art by the famous Murcia sculptor Francisco Salzillo, and the Fiestas de Primavera (Spring Festival). The city, as the capital of the comarca Huerta de Murcia is called Europe’s orchard due to its long agricultural tradition and as a fruits, vegetables and flowers producer and exporter.
The terrain owes its varied character to the mountain ranges of the south (Cordillera Sur). The Region of Murcia is surrounded by two mountain ranges, the Sierra de Orihuela and the Cresta de Gallo. The city itself is divided into eastern and western zones by a series of mountain ranges (Carrascoy, El Puerto, Villares, Columbares, Altaona, and Escalona). These two zones are known as Field of Murcia and Orchard of Murcia. Near the plain’s center, the steep hill of Monteagudo protrudes dramatically.
The Cathedral of Murcia was built between 1394 and 1465 in the Castilian Gothic style. Its tower was completed in 1792 and shows a blend of architectural styles. The first two stories were built in the Renaissance style (1521–1546), while the third isBaroque. The bell pavilion exhibits both Rococo and Neoclassical influences. The main façade (1736–1754) is considered a masterpiece of the Spanish Baroque style.
Other noteworthy buildings in the square shared by the Cathedral (Plaza Cardenal Belluga) are the colorful Bishop’s Palace (18th century) and a controversial extension to the town hall by Rafael Moneo (built in 1999).
The Glorieta, which lies on the banks of the Segura River, has traditionally been the center of the town. It is a pleasant, landscaped city square that was constructed during the 18th century. The ayuntamiento (city hall) of Murcia is located in this square.
Pedestrian areas cover most of the old town of the city, which is centered around Platería and Trapería Streets. Trapería goes from the Cathedral to the Plaza de Santo Domingo, formerly a bustling market square. Located in Trapería is the Casino, a social club erected in 1847, with a sumptuous interior that includes a Moorish-style patio inspired by the royal chambers of the Alhambra near Granada. The name Plateria refers to plata (silver), as this street was the historical focus for the commerce of rare metals by Murcia’s Jewish community. The other street, Traperia, refers to trapos, or cloths, as this was once the focus for the Jewish community’s garment trade. Several bridges of different styles span the river Segura, from the Puente de los Peligros, eighteenth century stone bridge with a Lady chapel on one of its side; to modern bridges designed by Santiago Calatrava or Javier Manterola; through others as thePuente Nuevo an iron bridge of the early twentieth century. Other notable places around Murcia include:
- Santa Clara monastery, Gothic and Baroque monument where is located a Museum with the Moorish palace’s remains from the 13th century, called Alcázar Seguir.
- The Malecón boulevard, a former retaining wall for the Río Segura’s floods.
- La Fuensanta sanctuary and adjacent El Valle regional park.
- Los Jerónimos monastery (18th century).
- Romea theatre (19th century).
- Almudí Palace (17th century), a historic building with coats of arms on its façade. On its interior there are Tuscan columns, and since 1985 it hosts the city archives and usually houses exhibitions.
- Monteagudo Castle (11th century).
- Salzillo Museum.
- San Juan de Dios church-museum, Baroque and Rococo circular church with the remains of the Moorish palace mosque from the 12th century in the basament, called Alcázar Nasir.
In the metropolitan area are also the Azud de la Contraparada reservoir and the Noria de La Ñora water wheel.
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