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Like many other Spanish cities, the Moors founded Murcia in the 9th century; under their rule the city developed into the region's centre that it still remained until today. The region stretches from Alicante in the north to Cartagena and Lorca in the south, and towards Moratalla in the west. The Moorish influence is hard to spot in the city itself, as many of the older neighbourhoods were established only in the 18th century when the city further expanded. After centuries of industrial growth, Murcia today holds a large university and, by that, a lively buzz of a considerable student population. Murcia still remains relatively undiscovered by tourism, especially compared to other coastal towns nearby. The area is mainly provincial farmland but there are also relatively young towns founded by sun starved foreigners. The villages in the surrounding mountains are well worth a visit, and it is easy to take day trips either by rental car, train or bus. The coastal region of Costa Cálida has many interesting destinations: Lorva’s baroque buildings, the quaint village of Moratalla, the glamorous beach community of La Manga, and the medieval neighbourhoods of Cartagena and Orihuela are only a few of them.
It is easy to take day trips from Murcia, either by rental car, train or bus. The villages in the surrounding mountains are well worth a visit, as the coastal region of Costa Cálida has many interesting destinations such as Lorva’s baroque buildings and the quaint village of Moratalla. However, do take your time and experience Murcia itself.
The narrow alleyways of Murcia’s old town are lined with restaurants, and fortunately, they haven’t customised their menus to the tourists' food culture. Instead, they serve genuine Spanish Mediterranean fare with fresh products, smooth olive oil, delicious sausages, and, of course, fish and sea food. The region’s rice dish Paella is famous, as rice is cultivated in the nearby village of Calasparra.
Finding a cafe to relax at is not a problem in Murcia but choosing between all those lovely shops indeed is. All of them offer great coffee, delicious desserts and also snacks, so you can enjoy your break during sightseeing for experiencing your own Spanish Siesta.
For its relatively small size, Murcia has a vibrant bar and club scene. The main reason for its briskly atmosphere is the student population that frequents the neighbourhoods near the university, but the old town has also some fair share of popular hot spots.
The narrow alleys of the Old Town, the pedestrian Calle Trapería between the Cathedral and Plaza de Santo Domingo, and luxurious Calle Jabonerias, are some of the city’s main shopping destinations. Calle Traperia is also home to Murcia’s casino, for those who want to try and increase their shopping budget. Nearby, food market Mercado Veronica is worth a visit as the Murcia region is known for its fresh and tasty produce. Bargains can be made at the souvenir and flea market on Jeronimo de Roda behind the El Corte Inglés department store. The older areas of coastal town Cartagena also offer shopping options, as does the luxurious beach town La Manga. The Murcia region has a large number of wineries, many of them ecologically managed. Head for the Ricote Valley to explore some of them.
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