When people hear of Murcia they usually think of the coastline and in particular the Mar Menor & La Manga, rarely imagining how much fun a trip into the City of Murcia could be.
The city of Murcia is set in the heart of a rich fertile plain at just 43 metres above sea level. Unlike the rest of the Murcia region, where the terrain is dry and rugged, the soil here is irrigated by the River Segura and the land has been widely and fruitfully cultivated. In the city itself the old quarter is made up of a maze of narrow streets huddled together around the Cathedral. This labyrinth is only broken by the main roads crossing through it such as the Gran Vía Escultor Salzillo.
For you shop-aholics Murcia city has an excellent range of boutique designer stores, many literally rolling out the red carpet to welcome visitors.
The most pleasant parts of the city, and the most typically Murcian, are to be found around the gardens on the banks of the River Segura, where the beautiful bridges criss-cross. A considerable part of the population of Murcia do not in fact live in the city itself, rather they live in houses and farmsteads scattered around it. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are grown not only for the Spanish domestic market but also for export to the rest of Europe. For this reason Murcia is often referred to as La Huerta de Europa: The Market Garden of Europe.
The benefit of all this wonderful fresh produce can be enjoyed in the hundreds of bars and restaurants hidden in the city streets. Murcia city has all types of restaurants for you to sample, from tapas bars to top class degustacion restaurants. Fortunately Murcia hasn’t completely succumbed to the draw of McDonalds & KFC, and whilst you can find these wonderful eating establishments (!) you have to try hard. For those of you who enjoy your pizza then there are at least 3 truly excellent Italian eateries in the city, with a profusion of the home delivery pizza places too!
If you’re wondering where to start with sampling the Murcian food then head out to Plaza de Las Flores which is a pedestrianised square with an excellent and diverse selection of food and prices. You have to try a typical Murcian Pie at Zaher bar (the cider is good too) and seafood at La Tapa restaurant in the Plaza de las Flores square.
Murcia also benefits from a diverse programme of festivities: carnivals (February), Easter (March/April), the Spring Festivals (March/April), the Fair of Murcia (September), and Christmas, which, together with cinema, theatre, and music festivals, conferences, and art exhibitions. Many of these events take place in the Teatro Romea and Centro de Congresos.
Easter is a perfect time to visit Murcia to see a traditional Spanish fiesta – Semana Santa – the ornate wooden sculptures of the city’s famous artist, Salzillo, are paraded throughout the city. Just after Semana Santa, the Spring Festival (Fiestas de Primavera) is a week–long party that includes the outstanding Bando de la Huerta and the Entierro de la Sardina (‘burying of the sardine’).
Spend a weekend in this diverse and truly Spanish city.
You can download an ebook to Murcia City here
It’s a great read with over 40,000 words.
© Debbie Jenkins – Murcia-based, Spanish food & travel writer – author of Going Native in Murcia, Spanish Village Cooking – Recetas del Campo and Spanish Cooking Uncovered: Farmhouse Favourites