Festivals, museums and more – there’s plenty to do year-round in Murcia
Culture is spelt with a capital ‘C’ in Murcia, where everyone from the Phoenicians and the Greeks, to the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Arabs have left traces of their passage. With stunning museums, striking buildings and exciting festivals, there’s plenty for culture enthusiasts to enjoy.
Apart from its renowned cathedral and archaeological museums, the region’s capital has several outstanding art venues, including the Salzillo and the Ramón Gaya museums, home to the work of two of Murcia’s best-known artists, and the Santa Clara Museum, which houses an outstanding collection of Islamic art.
Coastal Cartagena also has plenty to boast about. The pick of the bunch includes the Museum of the Roman Theatre, considered to be one of Spain’s greatest treasures, and the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology where thrilling exhibits include the treasure of 19th-century shipwreck Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes.
Lorca, too, has several must-see museums including a Holy Week museum with Semana Santa-themed displays and the MuBBla embroidery museum, whose delicate exhibits date back to the 19th century.
The province of Murcia abounds in architectural gems, many of which can be enjoyed just by wandering through the region’s villages and towns.
Murcia City’s outstanding architectural sights include the stunning cathedral built between the 14th and 17th centuries, the 19th-century Real Casino and the ninth century Monteagudo fortress. Cartagena, once Hannibal’s capital city, has extensive Roman remains and some fine modernist buildings, whilst Lorca’s baroque palaces, convents and military architecture are a feast for the eye. Pilgrims will want to visit Caravaca de la Cruz, whose 17th-century Basilica is home to fragments of the true cross.
There’s a festival for every month of the year in sunny Murcia, headed by Semana Santa, which starts on Ash Wednesday and continues in a riot of colourful parades until Easter. Fiestas for foodies include the SaborArte Gastronomy Festival in March and Jumilla’s wine festival in August, while music lovers can choose between the Cante de las Minas flamenco fiesta in August, La Mar de Músicas international music festival in July and modern music fest WAM in May.