Capital of a Spanish region with the same name, Murcia is surrounded by orchards and mountains, with the Segura River passing through the city. Easter celebrations here are among the best in Spain, and the city also hosts a number of fiestas throughout the year that have been declared Festivals of International Tourist Interest.
Originally named ‘Mursiyah’ by its Arab emir, Murcia has a strong Moorish heritage, influences of which are still visible in the architecture. Sections of the Arab city walls can be found all over the old quarter, including streets, a museum and a café. The jewel in Murcia’s crown is the 14th-century Murcia Cathedral, which features Renaissance, Gothic and baroque styles. A few steps away, you’ll come across the Neoclassical facade of the Real Casino, a private club that blends modernist and eclectic architecture. While its Arabic courtyard gleams with gold leaf and a glass dome, the opulent ballroom is decorated with Baccarat crystal chandeliers, gilded carvings and a frescoed ceiling.
If you’re travelling with kids, Terra Natura Murcia offers entertainment as well as education with a water park and a zoo that houses animals from Africa and the Iberian Peninsula in their natural habitat. For a peaceful afternoon spent amidst nature, you can head to the 19th-century Floridablanca Garden and relax in the shade of large ficus trees.