Autonomous Community Spotlight: Murcia

Not one to make travel goals, I did make one when coming to Spain: visit all 17 autonomous communities at least once before going home. While Madrid, Barcelona and Seville are the stars of the tourist dollar show (and my hard-earned euros, let’s not kid around here), I am a champion for Spain’s little-known towns and regions. Having a global view of this country has come through living in Andalucía, working in Galicia and studying in Castilla y León, plus extensive travel throughout Spain.

spain collage

 The ride out to Murcia is a long one – close to six hours and all across Andalucía – and it took me five years in Spain to make it there. Taking advantage of the Novio’s training course in Cartagena, I braved a six-hour solo bus ride back to be able to tick this far-flung region off of my list. Wedged between Andalucía, Valencia and Castilla-La Mancha and with poor connections to larger cities, Murcia is often an afterthought for tourists.

Name: Murcia

Population: 1.4 million, nearly a third of whom live in Murcia capital

Provinces: Just one, with the administrative capital located in the city of the same name.

When: 16th of 17, May 2012






About La Región de Murcia: The Carthaginians put the region on the map, founding the city of Cartagena, which would become a strategic naval city and home to the production of the world’s first submarine. Known as Cartago Novo, the city’s influence diminished under the Roman occupation of Iberia before the Moors introduced large-scale irrigation.

Nowadays, Murcia has more than earned the moniker of Spain’s Fruitbasket (La Cesta de España), due to its high production of fruits and vegetables.

Once the caliphate of Córdoba fell in the 11th Century, Murcia – then called Todmir – became an independent taïfa, or self-governing state. A century later, the Moorish king surrendered the area to Ferdinand III, making Murcia a part of the Castillian kingdom and therefore protected from the Moors in Granada and the Aragoneses. In turn, Castilla has a Mediterranean port.

Murcia cathedral

Still, this treaty was not met without strife, and small battles broke out between the descendents of the Moors, mudéjares, and Christians. At the end of the 13th Century, revolt had been squashed by Jaime of Aragón, and he took possession of the Kingdom of Murcia. Oh, but then the Black Plague reached Spanish shores, but thanks to Castilla and Aragón uniting under the matirmony of the Catholic Kings, population – as well as agriculture and ship building – again surged.

The Rennaisance, Golden Age and Baroque periods were relatively peaceful, and arts and sciences flourished. After the Guerra de Independencia and a heavy favor towards Madrid, Murcia became an independent region, encompassing parts of Albacete, Almería and Alicante, and finally an autonomous community in 1982 under the current constitution.

Even today in Spain, it’s widely unknown and thus a budget traveler’s dream (and you get free tapas in many cities!).

Must-sees: Murcia capital is a bustling university city and Spain’s seventh largest urban area. It has Moorish and Baroque flavor, a tangle of lovely streets and plazas and braised octopus dishes on offer in its bars. 

Wine Tasing in Jumilla

Winos will appreciate the region’s budding wine industry, which shares a DO with Madrid. Jumilla, Yecla and Bullas feature family-run bodegas with cheap and plentiful tastings.

Tourism in Murcia is largely outdoor draws – the Costa Cálida and its beaches, golf resorts, hiking and the Vía Verde. 

Holy Week processions in the capital and Carnaval festivities are huge draws for tourists, particularly in coastal Águilas. The Veracruz de Caravaca also highlights the skirmishes between the Moors and Christians during the Reconquist. And, who wouldn’t want to see the birthplace of Charo?!

My take:  Should Murcia be on your must-see list while visiting Spain? That depends.


If you’re looking for monumental Spain, this is not it: a handful of crumbling castles dot the landscape and Murcia’s university presence runs deep, but Murcia is most attractive for its cheap and unspoilt resorts and low cost of living. Still, I’d like to see more of the region and eat more baked octopus!

Have you ever traveled around the Murcia province? What do you like (or not) about it?

Want more Spain? Andalucía | Aragón | Asturias | Islas Baleares | Islas Canarias | Cantabria | Castilla y León | Castilla-La Mancha | Cataluña | Extremadura | Galicia | La Rioja | Madrid

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. at last a blogger writing about the forgotten Murcia, thanks Cat! as you surely know we are ignored by the rest of Spain very often.

    surely we’ve the worst accents that may bring you to tears, but there are also beautiful villages, great red wines Jumilla (forget that rubbish called Riojas, Dueros or whatever you find north from here, haha) we’ve nice beaches as well and of course, the best and most comfortable climate along the coast (in other places like Valencia and Cataluña it is more windy and not so sunny and warm).

    you are one of the three or four bloggers that i follow and the only one who has writ a blogpost about Murcia…..even i was not sure whether you were going to do it or nor (if you as foreigner had not done it then i would have lost all hopes and would have thrown myself over a cliff!)

    if you and Kike come to Murcia it would gladden me to have a beer…..or two!

    • I’d love to have a beer when we’re back in Murcia! He has family in Águilas, so it won’t be too long, I imagine!

  2. BMurcia? Been there Cat.

    I like the area so much that I bought property in La Azohia, near Puerto de Mazarron,while looking for sun, playas, food, charming people and endless relax.
    C. A. Peschiera recently posted..Autonomous Community Spotlight: MurciaMy Profile

    • wow…what a coincidence! i live in Puerto Mazarron! as you say La Azohia is near….so near that many of us think sentimentally that it is part of our own town, but you know that officially it belongs to Cartagena even if it is about 20 kilometres far!

  3. What a coincidence—I was just talking with some auxiliares who live in Murcia capital last night! They told me that while the city itself doesn’t really have anything at all to offer visitors, the region is actually quite perfect for daily life as expenses are cheap, everybody speaks (more-or-less understandable) Spanish to you rather than English, beaches aren’t too far away, and you’re in a strategic position halfway between Valencia, La Mancha, and Andalucía.

    I’d like to swing by Murcia someday when I come back to Spain for visits, probably stopping off in Cuenca and Albacete along the AVE line down south (which will hopefully be completed out to Murcia/Cartagena this year!)
    Trevor Huxham recently posted..Photo Post: Valença do Minho, PortugalMy Profile

  4. Living in the Alicante province, I am planning a trip soon to nearby Murcia. I appreciate your review and suggestions.
    Dawn Starr recently posted..Mailing Mishaps and MoreMy Profile

  5. i have forgotten to mention that there is a town, Caravaca de la Cruz, which is very famous as it is one of the five Holy places of Catholic Christianity together with Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela…and even more important: there is a relic, a piece, of the Holy Cross where Jesus was crucified, according to legend at least.

  6. A good friend from university is in Murcia now, taking his MBA. Hope I can visit him soon. It looks like a really nice city. I love his FB posts about it, and now you’re writing about it too!
    Aleah | recently posted..Of Sumo Wrestlers and Other Stories of KindnessMy Profile

  7. Great facts and must-see locations. I am really glad I stopped by, thanks for sharing!


  1. […] Want more Spain? Andalucía | Aragón | Asturias | Islas Baleares | Islas Canarias | Cantabria | Castilla y León | Castilla-La Mancha | Cataluña | Extremadura | Galicia | La Rioja | Madrid | Murcia […]

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