Murcia, Cultural Crossroads

The city of Murcia is a place where styles and cultures meet, where life is lived in
the streets, where visitors can enjoy walking around its modernist districts, through
the maze of Mediaeval streets in its former Moorish and Jewish quarters, as well as
admiring Renaissance and Baroque buildings or visiting the many historic
monuments in the old town.

The city dates back to 831, when Abderramán II ordered the construction of a town
that would be the capital of the entire Caliphate. Thus Mursiya, a walled and
strategically located settlement on the banks of the River Segura and today’s city of
Murcia, came into being. In the 12th century, Ben Hud, the ‘Wolf King’, made it the
capital of Al-Andalus and, a century later, it was annexed for Castile by Alfonso X
‘The Wise’.

The city has numerous vestiges of its past and its cultural heritage, including the
Santa María Cathedral, the most emblematic of all its monuments with a history
going back more than 600 years. Crowned by a beautiful, slender tower, which is one of the tallest church towers in Spain, it has an imposing Baroque façade in soft
limestone and marble that was designed by architect Jaime Bort. The Plateresque
style is present both on the La Cruz façade and the Los Junterones Chapel, whilst the
Flamboyant Gothic style is at its most ornate in the Los Vélez Chapel.

The city of Murcia has many more surprises in store. For example, it was home to
Spain’s first Jesuit college. Visitors will also come across numerous Baroque
buildings, such as the La Merced, San Miguel or San Juan de Dios Churches, as
well as important 19th century buildings including the Town Hall and two more of
the city’s most emblematic architectural symbols: the Casino and the Romea
Theatre.
Murcia is also home to several museums, one of the highlights being the Salzillo
Museum, dedicated to Murcian sculptor and master of the Baroque style, Francisco
Salzillo. On display are examples of his masterful, richly coloured and almost lifelike
carvings, which are paraded through the city streets every Good Friday morning in
one of the most evocative of all the Holy Week processions.
Complementing the city’s cultural offer are the Ramón Gaya Museum, dedicated to
this talented artist; the Fine Art Museum, the Archaeological Museum, the Molinos
Del Río Hydraulic Museum, the Santa Clara Museum, the City Museum, the San
Juan de Dios Museum and the Science and Water Museum, designed especially with
younger visitors in mind. The Almudí, Verónicas, San Esteban and Cabellerizas
exhibition galleries are also worth a visit.
The outskirts of the city are also very interesting. In the El Valle Natural Park, in
the La Luz Visitors’ Centre, next to the hermitage of the same name, visitors can
find out about the history of the area through an exhibition about its primitive
Iberian settlements. The visitor centre has a café-restaurant and a Nature Activities
Department that organises trekking and climbing excursions throughout the year.
Only a few minutes away along the El Valle Cultural Trail is the Murcian Baroque
style San Antonio el Pobre Chapel, now converted into a visitor centre. Here, in
a privileged location close to the Santa Catalina del Monte Franciscan Convent,
visitors can discover the life, habits and customs of the hermits that used to live
here. In nearby Algezares, right in the heart of the Natural Park, is the 17th century
Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Fuensanta, the city’s patron.

Visitors will find that, thanks to its perpetual spring-like weather, the city of
Murcia is a great place to wander around and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, not to
mention its wealth of shops and restaurants.

In order to enhance and promote Murcia as a destination, the Consorcio Turístico
Murcia Cruce de Caminos [Murcia Cultural Crossroads Tourism Consortium] was
set up and is behind the creation of new infrastructures designed to proactively
develop and foster tourism.

www.murciaciudad.com