Murcia is a city where we crammed all of our site seeing into just one day when this beautiful city deserved so much more. We were there in a period of bad weather and only ventured into the city once, because sightseeing in the rain isn’t so much fun.
Where we stayed
We would first of all like to thank Murcia city council for providing us with a great FREE place to park our motorhome. This is the one where we parked in the out of town Thader shopping mall car park, the one with an Ikea. You can read about it here if you missed our earlier post from the 30th March 2019.
Motorhomers can spend a lot of money in a place so it makes sense what Murcia city council did by providing a FREE area for us to stay. Lots of other cities and towns are missing out on the Motorhomers Euros.
Real Casino de Murcia (not an actual casino)
Our first stop in Murcia City was the Real Casino de Murcia. We were there for about two hours and unfortunately, we were not very lucky on the roulette wheels. We lost over 1,000 euros in a really short time.
We’re only joking. The Real Casino de Murcia isn’t even a casino. It’s more of a private club for posh people – like a smart London Gentleman’s Club in the old days. The casino society was set up in 1947 as an association of the city’s bourgeoisie. Over time the association bought more and more of the buildings around it as it got bigger and bigger. As each section was purchased the rooms had to be decorated as well as the last.
Casinos can best be described as social clubs, locations where the elite, ambitious and monied can gather to socialise together in an exclusive environment.
The whole place is decorated like a palace. There’s a lot that can be written about this marvellous building but we are going to just tell you about our three favorite rooms.
The first is the lobby where the ceiling was fantastic. Its Moorish style was very much Alhambra-esque. Every inch was covered in the most exquisite decoration.
Can you see the strange optical illusion in the photo above? Although its crisp and sharp, the corners of the room have this Moorish style decoration which always appears to be blurry in photos. The decoration next to it is clear, but those elements always look blurry. All of our photos came out the same – it’s so strange.
Then off of the Patio Arabe on the left, you will find the library built by an English company in the early 1900s. This is one of the most beautiful libraries we have ever seen with its own unique atmosphere.
Built on two levels the upper gallery of carved wood is supported by cast-iron brackets representing flamenco. It has 25 lit reading places with their own individual seats where you can observe the 20,000+ books that the library contains. If the lobby was Alhambraesque then this library was very much Harry Potter-esque.
We also really loved the restaurant. What really made it stand out was the glass tables with clear acrylic chairs. The parties and meals that must have happened here over the years would have been amazing. And you can book the restaurant today or book the whole room for a wedding etc which would be just stunning and so elegant.
Throughout, the walls are decorated with enormous old and beautiful paintings, or adorned with gilded mirrors and plaster work. There are sculptures, crystal chandeliers, carved woodwork and decoration everywhere you look – it’s a feast for the eyes for sure.
There are other really incredible rooms in this building like the Ballroom, the Ballrooms antechamber, the Pompeian Patio, the Congresillo, the incredible Gallery and the Billiards Room. It’s a working private club where most of the ground floor rooms are open to the public, but there are still plenty of private areas for the privileged members to enjoy.
When can you visit? The Real Casino de Murcia is open to the public from Monday to Sunday from 10.30 am to 7.00 pm. In August it is closed on Sundays and has limited opening hours on the other days from 10.30 am to 2.30 pm. Admission is 5 Euros or 3 Euros for discounted. Only the central gallery is accessible for disabled people because of steps. There is an audioguide which we highly recommend to tell you all about the history of the club and the building.
Details of the Restaurant opening hours, booking details and much more detailed information can be found on the official website
We then went off to see one of the most amazing and beautiful cathedrals in Spain. Unfortunately, we were so enthralled we forgot to take many photographs. Sometimes balancing a map and an audioguide and taking in the sights means there is no space for a camera or it gets forgotten.
The foundations of the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary in Murcia commonly called Cathedral of Murcia were dug in 1385, while the first stone was laid in 1388. A whole 79 years later in October 1467, the Cathedral was finished. However, over the next 300 years, the Cathedral continued to evolve with many changes of artistic style. The interior is largely Gothic style while the facade is Baroque design.
So just when you think you have finished a project somebody then decides to add an extension, you know what it is like. A 90 meter (300 feet) bell tower was added from 1521. However, it then took another 270 years to finish the bell tower in 1791. Those 24 bells can make a lot of noise.
How and when can you visit the cathedral? What is most surprising about Murcia’s Cathedral is that entry is FREE. It is open every day of the week from 7.00 am to 1.00 pm and from 5.00pm to 8.00pm (July and August from 7.00am to 1.00 pm and 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm). There is a museum with quite similar opening times, but closed on Mondays and entry is not free.
Those were the two main attractions that we had a good look around on our sightseeing day of Murcia. There were other places we could have gone but we decided just to check out a few coffee shops instead. You can’t beat a good cup of coffee and some people watching. Just walking the streets of historic cities and admiring the architecture, the parks and fountains and the cafes is fun and can take all day.
The riverside walk through the Malecon gardens was enjoyable – they have a small waterfall in the river where the council has laid out a section of green carpet over the wet concrete, like an artificial grass where the ducks can climb back up the waterfall to the top – it’s quite charming.
Murcia was fun, we’ll very likely go there again next year and keep our fingers crossed for better weather.