Top 11 attractions in Murcia: overview + photos
Murcia is a Spanish city and the capital of the province of the same name, located on the banks of the Segura River. It is located in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula 40 kilometers from the Costa Blanca . It has a population of nearly 450,000 inhabitants, making it the 7th largest city in the country. Murcia is a well-developed agricultural center as well as a city with a rich university tradition, since the first university was opened here in 1272.
Historians believe that the city was founded in 825 by the Cordoban emir Abd al-Rahman. But there is also reason to believe that the first human settlements appeared here during the Roman Empire. In the XIII century, after the conquest of the territory by the Spanish, the kingdom of Murcia emerged, and a few years later the city became part of the Castilian crown. For several centuries the city was in decline, and regained its former strength only in the 18th century due to the growth of the silk industry.
There are not many sights in Murcia; nevertheless the city is often visited by tourists due to its advantageous location near popular resorts on the Costa Blanca. Murcia is located 80 km from Alicante and 50 km from Torrevieja. If you want to visit a more interesting city than Murcia, you can go to Cartagena (50 km from Murcia). Although Murcia is a very distinctive and nice city, worthy of a visit at least for 1-2 days.
Attractions in Murcia
Start your sightseeing in Murcia with the pedestrian Plaza del Cardenal Belluga which is the central square in the old part of the city. Once upon a time there was a Muslim fortress alcazaba, a typical structure in Moorish Spain. The square is the center of many celebrations, including religious ones, as it is the home of Murcia’s main cathedral.
1. The Cathedral of Murcia
The Cardenal Bellegue square is home to several attractions in Murcia, including the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Catedral de Santa Maria), also known as the Cathedral of Murcia. It was under construction for half a century and was completed in 1465. It is one of the most outstanding historical sites in Murcia, in 1931 the cathedral was declared a National Monument.
Over the centuries, the temple building has undergone several significant renovations. For example, some additions have been made to the architecture of the bell tower, and the chapels and façade have been seriously altered. The main reconstruction work was carried out in the 16th and 18th centuries, so the architecture of the cathedral includes several trends in architecture: Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassicism. The 93 meters high bell tower is the third highest in Spain. It is home to 25 of the oldest bells of the XVII and XVIII centuries.
2. Bishop’s Palace
The Bishop’s Palace (Palacio Episcopal) is another famous historical site of Murcia. The Episcopal Palace is also located in the Plaza Cardenal Beluga in the old part of the city and is the official seat of the Archdiocese of Cartagena . The palace was built in the 18th century and today is one of the most important buildings of the monumental heritage of the city of Murcia.
Construction of the current bishop’s palace began in 1748 under the direction of Bishop Juan Mateo. Long before that, however, a bishop’s palace had already been built in Murcia and was demolished to provide a more panoramic view of the Cathedral. The modern palace building is a magnificent example of Rococo and Baroque architecture, with square elements and sumptuous decorations of the facade.
3. City Hall building
One of the most luxurious buildings located very close to the Plaza Cardenal Bellegue is the Town Hall (Casa Consistoral or Ayuntamiento) . It was built in 1848 in the neoclassical style. The facade of the building has a balcony with four columns and two female sculptures of muses symbolizing Abundance and Happiness. It is from this balcony that the mayor of Murcia greets the citizens during official ceremonies.
The interior, as it should be, is very beautiful and expensive, what is only the elegant marble staircase. In front of the town hall there is a fountain and a monument to Cardinal Luis Antonio de Belluga y Moncada, after whom the central square of the city is named. He was a Spanish cardinal and bishop of the diocese of Cartagena in Murcia. The statue is made of bronze and depicts the cardinal kneeling on one foot, with a parchment in one hand and a sword in the other.
4. Casino of Murcia
The Real Casino de Murcia, located in the center of the city, near the Cathedral, is one of the most emblematic buildings of the city. The construction of the building began in 1847, with an eclectic facade decorated with elements of the classical and modernist styles that were common in Spain during the second half of the 19th century. In 1983 the casino was declared a national historical monument. Each year the building is visited by 150 thousand tourists, of which 25 thousand are foreigners.
The Casino of Murcia is not a gambling establishment, but an elite men’s club . It is especially important to note the luxurious interiors of the building, which attracts tourists: a rich lobby, green courtyard in the Moorish style, monolithic columns, exquisite sculptures, library and many artistic decorations. The casino is open from 10:30 to 19:00, the cost of a visit is 5 euros, the price includes an audio guide.
5. Romea Theater.
In the old town there is another curious attraction in Murcia – the Romea Theater (Teatro Romea) on the Julian Romea square of the same name. This is not only the main theater of the city, but also one of the most important theaters in the country . It opened in 1862 with a production of The Man of Peace, played by the eminent Spanish actor Julián Romea, after whom the theater is named. The façade of the building was built in an eclectic style, here you can see elements of neoclassic and art nouveau. At the top of the facade are busts of three great composers: Beethoven, Mozart and Liszt.
The building has suffered twice from severe fires and destruction, and has been restored several times. After the last reconstruction the theater was opened in 2012, its cultural program remains very diverse to this day. Theater, dance and music productions of all possible genres are staged here. The Romea Theater is listed as a cultural heritage site. There are several other historic buildings and beautiful palaces in Julian Romea Square, so a stroll through it won’t be out of place for tourists either.
6. Flower Square
Another attraction in Murcia that definitely deserves your attention is the Plaza de las Flores in the old town. The square is very crowded and picturesque. Around the fountain, which is built in the center of the square, there are market stalls, flower stalls (hence the name of the square), stores, cafes, tropical trees and wooden benches. It is certainly one of the most charming and lively places in the city, where you can have a coffee and take a break from the begging Spanish heat in the shade of the trees.
Among the main attractions of Murcia on the Flower Square is a three-story commercial building, where in the 19th century the sale of fabrics took place (Edificio de Tejidos Abad) . Also note the bookstore (Edificio de la Librería Almela), a corner building with three floors and wrought-iron balconies on the façade. Both buildings are listed as national cultural heritage.
7. The Malecon Park
The Malecón Park (Paseo del Malecón) as a promenade was formed, one could say, by accident. Originally, retaining walls were built on this site in the 15th century to keep the Segura River from flooding (by the way, the Segura River is considered one of the most polluted in Europe). The park still serves as a dam, although it has been subjected to numerous reconstructions over time. The Malecon is located on the outskirts of the city, surrounded by the garden area of La Arboleja.
Malecon Park is used as a place for recreation and walks . On major holidays the park hosts celebrations, gastronomic and craft markets. For tourists, the garden will be of interest in terms of a great walking area and as a place to stay outdoors.
8. Floridablanca Garden.
The luxurious green Jardín de Floridablanca was created in the mid-nineteenth century and is not only the oldest garden in Murcia, but also the first public garden in Spain . It is located on the right bank of the Segura River in the authentic Carmen neighborhood, which is considered one of the most prestigious areas of the city. Currently, the Floridablanca Garden covers an area of 11,000 square meters. It is used for city fairs and celebrations, as well as a recreational area for local residents
The garden is named after the Spanish statesman Jose Monchino y Redondo, Count of Floridablanca; you can see his monument here. The Count was a member of the Council of Castile and became known as the author of the report that led to the expulsion of the Jesuits. In addition, in the garden there are monuments in honor of famous people of Murcia, such as the sculptor Antonio Garrigos and the poets José Selgas-Carrasco and Pedro Jara Carrillo.
9. Murcia Zoo
Terra Natura is a new generation zoo and one of the most interesting attractions in Murcia. Its main feature is the concept of “immersion” in the zoo, where you can observe and interact with the animals in a barrier-free environment. The enclosures recreate the natural environment, making a visit to the zoo surprisingly entertaining not only for children, but also for adults.
In the Terra Natura Zoo you can see 300 animals of 50 different species. It is home to representatives of the hot Savannah and the Iberian Peninsula. The cost to visit the zoo is 25 euros, 20 euros for children and 18 euros and 14 euros in winter respectively. The zoo is located 3 km from the city. A larger zoo is located in the city of Benidorm on the Costa Blanca, 100 km from Murcia.
10. Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fuensanta
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fuensanta (Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta) is located in the village of Alguezares, 4 km from Murcia. It began to be built in 1694 on the remains of a medieval cave hermitage in honor of the Virgin Mary of Fuensanta. At the end of the seventeenth century, there was a major drought and many of the faithful turned to pray to the Virgin Mary. After a pilgrimage to the shrine, the drought ended, and this amazing fact was repeated several times.
Thanks to this, in the middle of the eighteenth century Our Lady of Fuensanta became the patron saint of the city and the temple is still of great importance to the inhabitants of Murcia. Twice a year pilgrimages are made here. The church was built in a baroque style with a central nave and chapels on the sides. Its main façade is constructed of brick in the form of a stepped composition which culminates in a bell tower. The interiors of the church are rich in works of art, among which the image of Our Lady of Fuensanta stands out.
11. Monteagudo Castle
Monteagudo Castle (Castillo de Monteagudo) is a medieval fortress located approximately 5 kilometers northeast of the city of Murcia in a beautiful rocky location. The interesting name of the castle comes from the mountain on which it was built: “monte acutum”, which means “sharp mountain”. At the time of the Roman Empire, there was a town at the foot of Monteagudo, which disappeared after the wars between the Byzantines and the Visigoths.
The first mention of Monteagudo Castle dates back to Islamic times in 1078. The fortress was built as an observation post and defensive structure. It was also used as a place of confinement for criminals. After the Reconquista, the fortress of Monteagudo was the residence of those close to the royal family. The castle is currently undergoing archaeological excavations and reconstruction work.
At the top of the hill is a majestic sculpture of Jesus Christ, 14 meters high. The monument of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Corazon de Jesus) was designed in 1951 and is a copy of a sculpture from 1926, destroyed during the Second Spanish Republic.
Sightseeing map of Murcia
To make sure you don’t miss any of the attractions in Murcia, keep a map of all the main places to see in Murcia in 1-2 days.
17 Murcia attractions not to be missed
Murcia is a sun-drenched city in eastern Spain. Here you can enjoy delicious food, learn about the rich history of the region and admire the majestic Baroque architecture. No one seems to be in a hurry to get anywhere in this city – even the Cathedral has been under construction for 300 years.
There are indeed many sights in Murcia, but do not rush to see them all at once. Choose no more than two sites from the list below each day, so that you have time to sit in cozy cafes or take a leisurely stroll through the squares and parks. Here’s an overview of what to see in Murcia.
Casino. | Photo: wikimedia.
Casino de Murcia is a luxury casino that first opened in Murcia in 1847 as a gentlemen’s club. Painstakingly restored, the building is a wonderful combination of historical architecture and luxury – it is a reminder of the former grandeur of the aristocracy.
Behind its ornate facade you will find: a beautiful patio – a Moorish patio; a charming English library housing about 20,000 books; a fabulous ballroom with glittering chandeliers; and an irresistible boudoir with ceiling frescos depicting cherubs, angels and a woman with wings wrapped in flames.
Address: Real Casino de Murcia, Calle Trapería, 18, 30001 Murcia, Spain.
Cathedral in Murcia.
Cathedral in Murcia | Photo: Colin Haycock / Flickr.
Several architectural styles are intertwined in the architecture of this urban cathedral, but the Baroque elements added in the 17th and 18th centuries draw particular attention. The main Baroque façade overlooking the Plaza Cardenal Bellegue is stunning in its grandeur, thanks to the relief columns and the beautiful sculpture of the Virgin Mary with the Archangel above the main portal.
Inside there are numerous chapels with tombstones of famous people of the time, but especially notable is the tomb of King Alfonso X of Castile. It is impossible not to notice the 93-meter bell tower of the cathedral – it is considered to be the second highest in Spain (after the Tower of the Gerald in Seville).
It is noteworthy that its construction lasted for more than 250 years. By the time the building was finished in 1793, its architecture had combined elements of several styles – Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical.
Address: Murcia Cathedral, Plaza del Cardenal Belluga, 1, 30001 Murcia, Spain.
Plaça de Flores
Plaza de las Flores.
Plaza de las Flores is located just west of the Cathedral. It is one of the most beautiful squares in the city. It got its name because of the many flower stalls that still operate here today.
The city’s mansions surrounding the square date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For example, Edificio de Tejidos Abad is a beautiful three-story Art Nouveau building with rectangular white bay windows. It is a pleasant place to sit at a café in the morning and in the evening visit one of the bars for a beer and a delicious tapas.
Address: Plaza de las Flores, 30820 Alcantarilla, Murcia, Spain.
Museum of the Monastery of Santa Clara
Museum of the Monastery of Santa Clara.
This ancient monastery is located right in the center of the city, on Gran Vía Alfonso X el Sabio, and it is still active. When you visit the museum, you will only be able to see a quarter of the entire monastery complex, but it is enough to understand how beautiful and interesting it is.
The monastery was built in 1300 on the site of a palace-fortress of the Almohad dynasty, the Muslim rulers of Murcia. This explains the large number of decorative architectural elements in the Arab style, such as horseshoe arches.
They are not only included in the construction of the monastery, but are also on display in the museum as exhibits. In addition, there are decorative elements elaborately made of wood and plaster.
Address: Museo de Santa Clara, Avenida Alfonso X el Sabio, 1, 30008 Murcia, Spain.
Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts. | Photo: wikimedia.
Attractive light galleries of this museum are devoted to the works of Spanish artists. Many of the works are little known, but the Siglo de Oro Gallery on the second floor has two beautiful paintings by Murillo, Crucifixion on the Cross and Ecce Homo, as well as the famous painting by Ribera, Saint Jerome. Seasonal exhibitions are regularly held on the third floor of the museum.
Address: Museo de Bellas Artes, Calle Obispo Frutos, 12, 30071 Murcia, Spain.
Piazza Cardenal Belluga
Plaza Cardenal Belluga. | Photo: santiago lopez-pastor / Flickr.
In Plaza del Cardenal Belluga you can see some of the best monuments of Murcia. From this square you can see the beautiful facade of the Cathedral as well as the City Hall of Murcia, a neoclassical structure built in the middle of the 19th century.
In 1998, according to the project by Rafael Moneo, a modern building was added to the town hall which is in marked contrast to the surrounding lush architecture. Here on the square there is also the Bishop’s Palace, an 18th century Rococo building. The building complements the Baroque additions of the Cathedral.
Address: Plaza del Cardenal Belluga, 5-6, 30001 Murcia, Spain.
Archeological Museum of Murcia
Archeological Museum of Murcia. | Photo: wikimedia.
This museum is not visited by so many tourists, but it will certainly be of interest to those who are interested in history. There are more than 2,000 archaeological sites throughout the Murcia region. In addition to Roman and Moorish heritage, the museum exhibits the best pieces of Iberian culture from the Bronze and Iron Ages.
It is clear from the drawings on the ceramics how much the trade with the Phoenicians and Etruscans meant to the Iberians. In the museum you can see an amazing historical exhibit León de Coy, an almost abstract sculpture of a lion found in a necropolis dating from the 4th century B.C.
Address: Murcia Archaeological Museum, Av. Alfonso X el Sabio, 7, 30008 Murcia, Spain.
Bishop’s Palace. | Photo: amaianos / Flickr.
Palacio Episcopal next to the Cathedral is one of the most striking sights in the center of Murcia. Here you can admire the palace’s opulent facade, wander around the courtyard, and consider the grand grand grand staircase. One of the doors leads to the Baroque chapel where you can see the wafers blessed during mass.
Address: Palacio Episcopal, Plaza del Cardenal Belluga, 1, 30001 Murcia, Spain.
Monteagudo Castle | Photo: wikimedia.
On the territory of the northeastern suburban area rises a rocky limestone hill with a height of 149 m. On its slopes stands the ancient Monteagudo Castle. The first thing that catches your eye is the huge statue of Christ on top of the castle. This is a copy of the original monument that stood on the hill in 1926.
The copy was erected in the early 1950s after the original statue was destroyed during the Civil War. The fortress, dating back 800 years, served as a reliable defense and observation post for Moorish settlers for 250 years.
It was also used to store large quantities of water and grain to withstand long sieges by the enemy. After the defeat of the Moors, King Alfonso X of Castile began to use the castle as his residence in Murcia.
Address: Explanada del Castillo de Monteagudo, Calle Abderrahaman II, 30160 Monteagudo, Murcia, Spain.
Museo Salzillo. | Photo: wikimedia.
Museo Salzillo is housed in the baroque building of the Church of Jesus. It is dedicated to the work of the Murcia-born famous sculptor Francisco Salzillo (1707-1783). His exquisite figurines for religious processions and Christmas statuettes are of particular interest.
Address: Museo Salzillo, Calle Dr. Jesús Quesada Sanz, 1, 30005 Murcia, Spain.
Floridablanca Garden. | Photo: wikimedia.
Jardín Floridablanca is a small but very picturesque urban garden. Here you can see several luxurious banyan trees with long and thick aerial roots, as well as numerous cypresses, palm trees, violet trees and lush rose bushes. There are benches in the shade of the trees where you can rest and admire the beauty of the surroundings.
Address: Jardín De Floridablanca, Calle Proclamación, 6, 30002 Murcia, Spain.
Science and Water Museum
Science and Water Museum.
The Museo de la Ciencia y del Agua is a city museum located on the banks of the river. It should definitely be visited with children – they will love the interactive exhibits where you can press buttons and turn knobs. There are also aquariums and a small planetarium in the museum.
Address: Museo de la Ciencia y el Agua, Plaza de la Ciencia, 1, 30002 Murcia, Spain.
Almudi Palace. | Photo: wikimedia.
This magnificent building once served as a grain warehouse, which was destroyed in a severe thunderstorm. Its reconstruction was completed in 1629. El Palacio Almudí embodies the booming local economy of the era as a result of the development of the silk industry.
The three bas-reliefs in front of the entrance catch your eye: the great coat of arms of the Habsburgs framed by the two coats of arms of the city of Murcia. Inside the palace you will see a beautiful Tuscan-style hallway with rows of columns supporting wide arches. Nowadays this beautiful building is used for seasonal art exhibitions.
Address: Almudí Palace, Calle Plano de San Francisco, 8, 30004 Murcia, Spain.
Zoo of Murcia
Photo: Mike Young / Flickr.
The Terra Natura Murcia is a zoo with several branches throughout Spain. It enjoys a well-deserved reputation for its humane approach to keeping animals in captivity. Here you will not see cramped pens or cages. Instead, the zoo staff tries to create conditions for the animals that are close to their natural habitat.
For this purpose, about 500 trees and bushes were planted throughout the territory. The zoo contains 300 animals of 50 species. Among them, there are representatives of endangered species, such as the European lynx, brown bear, Iberian wolf. From the exotic inhabitants you will see the hippos, lions, giraffes, white rhinos, birds and reptiles of various species.
Address: Terra Natura Murcia, Calle Regidor Cayetano Gago, s/n, 30100 Espinardo, Murcia, Spain.
Mercado de Verónicas is the central market of Murcia, a few steps away from the Almudi Palace. To enjoy the authentic taste of Spanish products, buy those labeled Denominación de Origen.
Paprika, one of the main ingredients in many Spanish dishes, is grown in the Murcia countryside and local cheese is made from goat’s milk. Many Spanish fruits and vegetables are also grown in Murcia, so you can be sure that you are buying really fresh farm products from one of the 116 market stalls.
The address is Mercado de Verónicas, Calle Plano de San Francisco, 10, 30004 Murcia, Spain.
Suburban Park. | Photo: wikimedia.
To relax in nature and breathe fresh air, residents of Murcia do not need to go far away. Just 6 kilometers from the southern outskirts of the city is a large nature park – Carrascoy and El Valle Regional Park. An easy climb up the foothills of the ridge will take you to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fuensanta, one of the main religious sites in Murcia.
The temple is easily recognized by its whitewashed baroque towers. Behind the temple stretches amazing mountain scenery. The park’s trails, framed by thickets of wild herbs such as thyme and rosemary, pass through forest thickets of Aleppo pines and kermes oaks.
Address: Centro de Visitantes El Valle, Ctra El Valle, 61, 30120 Murcia, Spain.
Costa Calida and Costa Blanca
Costa Calida and Costa Blanca resort areas. | Photo: RachelH_ / Flickr.
The Mediterranean Sea is only 50 km from Murcia, so you can get from the city to the beach within an hour. If you go directly east, you will find yourself in the quiet beach area of the southern Costa Blanca. The coastal resort of Torre de la Horadada has two sandy beaches awarded the Blue Flag for high water quality.
Beach bars are visible everywhere – they look especially tempting when the sea air is working up an appetite. Fans of outdoor activities will love the Mar Menor Lagoon, separated from the sea. It is considered one of the largest centers for water sports. In addition, the Las Charcas area in the lagoon’s northern zone is famous for its healing muds.