Murcia is an overlooked region, sandwiched between the much more visited Andalusia to the south and Valencia to the north. That’s a shame, because there are great experiences waiting in Murcia that are well worth the trip.
1. Murcia casino
In the heart of Murcia city you will find the impressive casino, which is also the most visited building in the region’s capital.
Since 1847, the building has served as a private gentlemen’s club for the city’s elite, but although it is private, you can visit the ground floor and admire the impressive architecture.
The building is constructed in mixed styles inspired by the artistic movements of the late 19th century. 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century.
You can visit the Arabic courtyard, decorated with over 20,000 sheets of gold leaf, the neo-baroque ballroom with frescoes, the library with a fine carved wooden gallery and an adjoining ladies’ room, and the billiards room.
Real Casino de Murcia, C. Trapería 18
2 Plaza del Cardenal Belluga
Located in the heart of Murcia city centre, the historic Cardenal Belluga square is an interesting study in how classical and modern architecture can merge into one.
The square dates from 1885 and has been modernised over the years. The most colourful building is the Baroque Bishop’s Palace, with a beautiful red façade, built between 1748 and 1769. The Bishop’s Palace now houses the Bishop of Cartagena, and it’s worth entering through the large gate and the spectacular building from the courtyard side with fine vaults.
Diagonally opposite the Bishop’s Palace, you can see the façade of Murcia’s new Town Hall building, designed by architect Rafael Moneo and inaugurated in 1998. The building both contrasts sharply with the historic buildings and compliments them. The old town hall building is neoclassical and from the 19th century.
At the end of the square, Murcia’s cathedral, Santa Maria, sits majestically and immediately draws the eye.
It took three hundred years to build the cathedral (14-1700s), which is in different architectural styles. The main façade facing Plaza del Cardenal Belluga is adorned with columns and sculptures. Inside you can admire the lavishly decorated chapels and the tomb of King Alfonso X. The 93-metre bell tower is the second tallest in Spain.
Plaza del Cardenal Belluga
3 The Roman Theatre in Cartagena
On Murcia’s east coast you’ll find the city of Cartagena, which houses a fine Roman theatre, built between the 5th and 1st centuries BC. At that time, the theatre had an important function in the city,
For a hundred years the theatre was buried underground, but an excavation and renovation by architect Rafael Moneo has turned it into a fine museum. Here you can check out the acoustics from the 6,000-seat stands, the 43-metre stage and a host of decorations. If you go to the top of the city, on the hill Concepción, at the old medieval castle, Castillo de la Concepción, you’ll get great views of the theatre, the neighbourhood and the city harbour.
If you want to enjoy the view and see more of Cartagena’s cultural treasures, you can buy an entrance ticket to the Roman Theatre in Cartagena as well as access to the Roman Forum, Concepción Castle and the panoramic lift (promotional link)
Buy an entrance ticket to the Roman Theatre in Cartagena (promotional link)
Teatro Romano de Cartagena, Palacio Pascual del Riquelme, Pl. Ayuntamiento, 9
4 The view from the lighthouse in Cabo de Palos
At the southeastern tip of Murcia, the rocky islet of Cabo de Palos juts out into the Mediterranean. A fine lighthouse is enthroned on the hilltop, which is worth climbing. From here, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the crystal-clear Mediterranean, small coves and beaches, and jagged cliffs.
Cabo de Palos is a small town whose fishing port was important for many years, and the lighthouse was commissioned in 1865. You can visit the 51-metre high lighthouse on a guided tour. You have to climb 300 steps to reach the top. They’re narrow and dark, so you’ll need to be comfortable with enclosed spaces and steep stairs.
Book a guided tour via the website link below.
5 See flamingos and pink lagoons
On the coast of Murcia’s north, on the Mar Menor, is the Salinas y Arenales de San Pedro del Pinatar Regional Park. In the wetland you will find salt lakes and salt dunes, as well as a large population of birds, including migratory birds such as flamingos. In spring, there is a chance to see some terns.
The pink lagoons have a huge salt content and there is a salt industry here that extracts around 100,000 tonnes of salt a year. The regional park also has fishing according to ancient Arab traditions.
The 856-hectare park is perfect for walking or cycling. Start at the park visitor centre, where you can get information about the area and its fauna and flora.