Plaza del Cardinal Belluga, Murcia
No exploration of Murcia attractions is complete without spending at least a day at the Plaza del Cardinal Belluga, one of the city’s most exciting locations with the Cathedral of Santa Maria at one end of the square and the colourful Palacio Episcopal (The Bishop’s Palace) at the other. Also in the Plaza are the Belluga ‘Salas’, a series of rooms where you can enjoy various cultural activities and exhibitions throughout the year. The Tourist Office is located conveniently opposite the Cathedral so you can gather information and literature before heading to one of the many eateries in the plaza to read up on what to see and do and indulge in some quality people-watching: the Plaza is the city’s main rendezvous for local residents. The tapas available in the Plaza are outstanding. You can order a Russian Salad, crispy fried “Calamares” (Squid), spicy Potato Wedges or heartier “Albondigas,” heavily seasoned yummy meatballs, usually just two or three served with your drink – enough to cut your hunger but not enough to ruin your dinner!
The Cathedral de Santa Maria
The beautiful Cathedral of Santa Maria is the only cathedral currently in use by the Diocese of Cartagena. Building began in 1291 over the location of a Mosque, completed in 1394 before being updated in the Baroque style in 1748. There is a ‘Museo’, a museum exhibiting interesting religious artefacts and under a glass walkway you can see the remains of a small ‘mezquita’ (mosque).
Don’t miss the Capilla de los Veléz, the outstanding and ornate 15th Century chapel where the Marquises of Velñez are buried. The chapel houses a sepulchral urn containing the heart and entrails of Alfonso 10th The Wise.
Visits to the Cathedral are free but remember to dress respectfully – absolutely no shorts or strappy tops or you will definitely be refused entry. If you want to see the city from a great height you can climb up inside the tower for 5€ to admire a tremendous view.
The Episcopal Palace
The “Bishop’s Palace,” a favourite amongst Murcia attractions, was built to afford the Bishop of Murcia a fine view of the Cathedral. The biggest and grandest baroque palace in the city, it was built by architects Baltazar Canestro and José Lopez in 1748 and 1768.
Ordained at 14, Luis Antonio rose through the church to later become Cardinal Belluga, an eminent historical figure responsible for much of the urban development of Murcia and the Vega Baja del Segura. He built hospitals, founded new settlements and funded the colonization of uncultivated lands. The cardinal was also not a man to be trifled with – the small building connecting the palace and the adjoining seminary is the old Ecclesiastical Jail, also in the Baroque style.
The Nerve Centre of the City
The Plaza offers historic interest and cultural enrichment with its ancient buildings and exhibition rooms offering a unique glimpse into Murcia attractions and artefacts but also it is the nerve centre of the city, the location of the modern City Hall Annex Building finished in 1998. Every procession and fiesta in the city is routed through the Plaza and the atmosphere of local life and sociability here is palpable even on days when relatively nothing is happening!
Park in the underground car park close to the Plaza: the exit brings you to just a few steps away from the main square.
Murcia City is around a 30-minute car hire drive from the Mar Menor and approximately 50 minutes from the Drivalia Car Rental depot at Alicante Airport.
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