The autonomous community of Murcia is located in the southeastern area of Spain. Most of the region is mainly on the Mediterranean coasts between Andalusia and the Valencian Community. Inland Murcia borders on Castile-La Mancha.
The region has retained a strong Arabic flavor since being founded by the Moors in 831.
The conquest by the Castilian gave access to the Mediterranean for the first time to them since the Carthaginians, Romans and Moors had ruled the sea in the past.
Most of the current structures in the autonomous community stem from the 15th to 18th centuries. The silk industry sustained the region and the excess funds were used for the construction of new churches.
The area makes claim to lovely beaches and the Mar Menor. This is a huge salt water lake that the affluent Phoenicians and Moors chose as the site of their summer residences. The area still attracts those seeking a place in the sun due to being a micro-climate region.
Here are the best places to visit in Murcia.
Catedral de Santa Maria (St. Mary’s Cathedral), Murcia
Murcia is well known for being a good example of how to mix historical aspects with the modern world. Featuring both ancient ruins of bygone eras with progressive shopping centers along with striking public gardens and museums sure to impress, the town has it all.
Its most famous attraction was completed in the 15th century, the Cathedral de Sanata Maria and remains a popular example of architecture in the region. Standing proudly in the center of the city, the construction for this glory began in the mid 1300s and wasn’t finished until 200 years later when the first mass was held. Consisting of beautiful and eye-popping Renaissance architecture, the cathedral later had work done in the 1800s when several sculptures of saints as well as its now iconic façade were added.
The highlight of the Cathedral is the Capilla de los Velez. This gorgeous yet solumn resting place of the Marquise (nobleman) is adorned with carvings of Colmbus’s journey to the New World and his voyage back to Spain.
Castillo de Aledo Sierra de España, Aledo
The Sierra Espuna National Park is one of the many national treasures of the Aledo área, holding shelter for flora and fauna such as boars and birds of paradise as well as numerous hiking trails for the backpackers and an overall good way to see the great outdoors for everyone.
Before visiting the park, it’s probably a good idea to get a map as it can be quite expansive and thus, easy to get lost in. Be careful of the steep drops as well as the narrow paths that are abundant in the park.
If anyone wants to see historical artifacts while they’re visiting, the Castillo de Aledo is the perfect place. Originating from the Muslims in the early 11th century AD, the castle, which has a reddish tint due to being made out of tamped Earth, is surrounded by the remains of battlements which was built to defend vital areas of the grounds and was the fortress for the Castillian warrior and nobleman García Giménez. But the real treat is the keep, virtually the only part of the castle that remains in an excellently preserved condition.
Nonetheless, the castle was declared a site of Cultural Interest by the Spanish government in 1985.
Colegiata de San Patricio Lorca, Lorca
The city of Lorca is a beautiful historical area that is positively brimming with excitement and wonder. Built on the remains of a 13th century fortress is well known across the globe for its striking and often moving Baroque architecture.
The crown jewel of the city is the Collegiate San Patricio de Lorca which was declared a Historic Artistic Monument in 1941. Located near the Plaza de España, right by other equally intriguing buildings like Casa del Corregidor and the Convent of Mercy, this structure is a testament to St. Patrick (ironically, the patron saint of Ireland) and every March 17th, there is a feast in the saint’s honor.
His temple began construction in the year 1553 and was completed more than 200 years later, in 1780. It’s wonderful and striking façade was built from 1694 and 1710. But the real reason to see the Collegiate is to see its 17th century inside, with 3 ships, twelve side chapels, two choirs and a bell tower that was built sometime between the 16th to 18th century.
With a wide variety of architectural styles available, this is the one site that will appease those who love structural design.
Museo Nacional de Arqueologia Maritima, Cartagena
The town of Cartagena originated in the 3rd century BC and was originally founded by the Carthaginians. It was later taken over by the Romans and then the Moors and the town’s violent history is still seen today by the ruins of Roman structures and a long abandoned hilltop castle.
However, the biggest attraction of the town is the National Museum of Maritime Archaeology, detailing the long and intriguing naval history of Cartagena. With such wonders like genuine excavated Roman ships and the famous ship Punta San Ferreol Algal used by the Phoenicians, this provides an interesting insight to how civilizations travelled across sea. The museum, which was opened by the local government in 1982, boasts other features such as a nautical library and several exhibition halls.
Santuario de la Vera Cruz, Caravaca de la Cruz
Everyone will marvel at what appears to be concrete evidence of the existence of Jesus Christ. The Cross of Caravaca, which is officially recognized by the Catholic Church, is a piece of the original cross that the Savior was supposedly crucified on and exists today as a 17 cm high preservation.
According to legend, the cross was first found by the Bishop Roberto Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1099 after the first of the many Holy Crusades. Some 200 years later, Frederick II, a distant successor of Roberto has possession of the cross but two years later, the cross was mysteriously in Caravaca.
The appearance of the cross resulted in many great changes, including a rebellion against the Muslim rulers of that time and many Christians migrated to the land “as if commanded by an external force”. Supposedly, the Knights Templar themselves protected the cross either in 1244 or 1265-1266, depending on which version of the story is told.
After the attempted invasion of Napoleon numerous centuries later, the cross was taken from the castle and buried for 9 years to avoid it from being destroyed.
Today, the cross is celebrated with a May celebration in the honor of Marquis of Vélez who hid the cross during Napoleon’s invasion.