In the most representative square in Murcia stands the great façade of the Cathedral, 54 metres high and featuring 20 sculptures, it is a participant in and witness to the life of the city.
The main façade, built between 1737 – 1751, is considered to be one of the most important of the Baroque period.
Designed as a façade-altarpiece by the Valencian architect and sculptor Jaime Bort y Meliá, it is a harmonious ensemble, that plays with volumes, perfectly combining architecture and sculpture.
Like a great stone theatre, the façade exalts the history of the universal church and that of the diocese in particular.
Twenty Saints, three archangels, a guardian angel and the mysteries of the Virgin comprise this visual representation of the city of the living God, Heavenly Jerusalem.
It has three entrance doors, which correspond to the three naves of the Cathedral, and two bodies.
The central section, with the Door of Forgiveness, is dedicated to Saint Mary, and finished off by a vase with lilies, the emblem of the Chapter and of this church.
The Door of Apostles is the only one from the 15th century still preserved at the Cathedral. Attributed to the architect Diego Sánchez de Almazán, it dates to between 1465 – 1480.
Built in the flamboyant Gothic style, its name comes from the four characters featured on the sides of the entrance arch: St Andrew and St Paul on the left and St James and St Peter on the right.
Over them appear prophets and Kings from the Old Testament and musician angels. Midway through the 19th century, the coat of arms of Queen Isabella II was placed on the keystone of the arch, as a tribute to her assistance provided to the recovery of the Cathedral after the fire of 1854.
The door is topped off by the Cathedral´s only rose window.
Door of Chains
From the emblematic Calle de Trapería, the Door of Chains directs our gaze towards the church. Built in two phases, the first was erected at the start of the 16th century, it is one of the first Renaissance works on the peninsula. It was devised as a large triumphal arch paying tribute to the Spanish Monarchy.
Its reliefs feature the Catholic Monarchs accompanied by their daughter Joanna, Philip the Handsome and other figures of the Crown of Castile.
On the spandrels of this arch, two large laurel wreaths feature the busts of St Peter and St Paul.
The ornamental top of the door was built at the end of the 18th century and shows iconographies that are very beloved in the history of this Cathedral, such as the Nursing Madonna and the Saintly Brothers of Cartagena: Leander, Fulgentius and Isidore.
The bell tower is the real urban and spiritual backbone of the city.
It was built in several stages, the first two parts are Renaissance style, designed by Jacobo Florentino and Jerónimo Quijano respectively.
Following a two-century interruption to building work, José López took charge of the continuation of building midway through the 18th century with the Baroque sections of the clock and the bell tower.
This architecture was finished off in a neoclassical style at the end of the 18th century, with the dome and the lantern, under the management of Ventura Rodríguez.
Inside the tower it is possible to visit the Clock Room or Room of Secrets, the Chapel and the Balcony of Spells. Lastly, you can climb up to the bell tower where you can enjoy one of the best views in the city of Murcia.
The central nave of the cathedral houses the main altar and the choir.
This space suffered a serious fire in 1854 which destroyed the altarpiece, the masonry of the choir and the organs, the fire was so intense that the stained glass windows were blown out, apart from the rose window of the southern arm of the transept.
The Cathedral was gradually restored thanks to the Bishop Mariano Barrio and the donation of Isabella II.
The choir features the late Renaissance masonry donated by the Queen. Carved in walnut, it shows splendid reliefs depicting the life and Passion of Christ, Bible scenes and images of saints.
On it stands the great Merklin organ, which, with its almost 4000 pipes, is one of the most important organs at an international level.
The Vélez Chapel, with lavish and exuberant décor, is the most important and representative of Murcia Cathedral, it was named a National Monument in 1928.
This funeral chapel from the end of the 15th century was founded in 1490 by Juan Chacón, Governor of the Kingdom of Murcia and finished in 1507 by his son Pedro Fajardo, the first Marquis of Vélez.
Created in a flamboyant Gothic style, it follows the model of the Chapel of the Condestable in Burgos Cathedral and that of Álvaro de Luna in Toledo Cathedral, these are the only three flamboyant Gothic style funeral chapels in all of Spain.
This chapel stands out from the other chapels in the church, in terms of its size and height, demonstrating the power of its patrons. It has an irregular octagonal floor plan, and is covered by extraordinary ten-point star vault .
Its lavish décor notably includes the family coat of arms surrounded by plant and geometric motifs, and small figurative scenes such as fantastic animals and angels.
A large crucifix presides over the chapel, and over the door on the left that leads to the old sacristy, pulpit and balconies, is the image of the Risen Christ with Mary Magdalene and Salome.
This bible scene where the women go to the tomb to anoint the body of the Lord on Sunday morning reminds us of the hope in the Resurrection of the dead and the Eternal Life of those who lie here.
The large central canvas, a work by Francisco García, which dates back to 1607, represents Saint Luke, to whom this chapel is dedicated.
The bottom arcosolia were used to house the funeral monuments of the family, but there is only one marble sarcophagus on which a white marble child is sat, a work by Roque López, it cries sadly for the death of the two royal children buried there in 1810.
Under this floor, and practically occupying the entire area of the chapel, a large brick vault forms the crypt.
This lavish interior décor contrasts with the understated exterior, which has no décor other than the heraldry of Juan Chacón, which shows two wild supports, and the repeated coat of arms of his son, the Marquis of Vélez.
An extraordinary stone chain surrounds the entire complex.
Chapel of Gil Rodríguez de Junterón.
The so-called Junterones Chapel is one of the most valued and esteemed of the Spanish Renaissance.
The Nativity Chapel was purchased by Gil Rodríguez de Junterón in 1515.
However, work did not begin until a decade later; it was carried out by Jerónimo Quijano, following the plans of the Italian architect Jacobo Florentino.
The chapel stands out for its vault, an innovative solution devised by Jerónimo Quijano to cover the space of the presbytery, with an elliptical floor plan.
This open scallop, turned in on itself, was very admired and renowned by subsequent architects, to the extent that the architect and treatise writer Alonso de Vandelvira named it the “Dome of Murcia”.
In the centre we find the Nativity altarpiece, a relief carved in white Carrara marble by Jerónimo Quijano.
Among the columns, the niches house the figures of the prophet Isaiah on the right and Saint John the Baptist on the left. The other female figures are the Sibyls, prophetesses in Roman mythology.
Imperial Roman sarcophagus
Gil Rodríguez stated in his will that he wanted to be buried in front of the altar, inside a large imperial Roman sarcophagus, a gift from Julius II.
The restoration in 1998 led to the discovery of the majestic Sarcophagus of the Muses ; it was found intact buried in the crypt and is now on display in the museum. It is the oldest work among the treasures of the cathedral.
This chapel stands out in the exterior of the Cathedral due to its rich décor. Floral vases form the cresting of the chapel, in the centre two dragons imitating old Gothic gargoyles flank a shrine, where the bust of Julius II appears.
The following tondo on the right, bearing a royal crown, features Ferdinand the Catholic, and the tondo on the left, crowned this time with the imperial crown, has Charles V.
The Baptistery Chapel, also known as the Chapel of Our Lady of Succour, is located at the foot of the Cathedral, on the Gospel side. The work was carried out in 1545 under the management of Jerónimo Quijano, the master builder.
The altarpiece, in Cararra marble, houses the group of sculptures of Our Lady of Succour, a work by the Italian artist Juan de Lugano, in the second half of the 16th century. Mary is presented as a defender and champion against evil, in he right hand she is holding a sceptre with which she is going to hit the devil, which is at her feet.
The child crying on the other side reminds us of the miracle of the Virgin, who saved a child whose upset mother had “sent it to hell” due to its continuous crying.
The mother, desperate faced with the appearance of the Devil, invokes the Virgin, who immediately comes to help her, saving the child.
Up until 1908, the Cathedral was a parish and the faithful came to this chapel to receive the sacrament of baptism.
Chapel of the Immaculate Conception or of Bishop Trejo
At the beginning of the 17th century, the Franciscan bishop Fray Antonio de Trejo, commissioned the construction of one of the finest chapels of the Cathedral.
It is one of the first chapels in all of Spain devoted to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
Bishop Trejo was the ambassador of King Philip III to the Holy See, tasked with obtaining the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The ambassadorship took place from 1618 until 1620, and he met on several occasions with Pope Paul V; but ultimately he was unable to achieve his goal.
The chapel is designed in a Baroque style, following Italian influences in the way that the spaces are laid out and the use of polychrome marble which is very rich and spectacular. The image of Mary, a polychrome wood carving dates back to around 1627, and is thus one of the first images dedicated to her.
Chapel of Our Lady Of Succour or Chapel of Dávalo
This chapel was founded in 1435 by Sancho Dávalos, the alderman of Murcia, Lord of Ceutí, commander of Lorquí and Knight of the Order of Saint James. Its last owners were the Marquises of Espinardo.
It houses one of the most splendid Baroque altarpieces in our Cathedral, and along with the sculptures adorning it, it was probably a project by the great Murcian sculptor of the 18th century, Francisco Salzillo.
The altarpiece, with rich gilded and polychrome wood, shows pairs of columns, two of which are Solomonic, that frame the niche that houses the figure who the chapel is named after, Our Lady of Succour.
The top part of the altarpiece shows the representation of Saint Anthony the Great, which refers to the early dedication of the chapel. A large curtain carved in wood, in the top part of the altarpiece, seems to cover the entire structure in a display of theatricality, typical of the Baroque period.
It is worth noting that this chapel is the resting place of the remains of Jerónimo de Ayanz and Beaumont, who died in 1613, and was known as the Spanish Da Vinci of the 16th century. He was a soldier who stood out as a painter, musician, astronomer and, above all, as a brilliant inventor
CLAUSTRO - MUSEO
On 6 April 1957, the museum was opened for the first time to the public in the cloister of the old Cathedral and annexed premises, and this work was managed and promoted by the Cathedral chapter.
The Gothic cloister of the Cathedral is the oldest part of the church that is still preserved, it was built during the 14th century and during its history it has undergone several modifications. At present, it is possible to walk through one of its galleries, admire the frescoes that decorate its walls, visit the chapels it houses, the oldest in the Cathedral, and observe the foundations of the great mosque through a glass floor.
The museum houses the treasures of the Cathedral, with important works of painting and sculpture, as well as textiles and objects from the Cathedral´s liturgical collection, still in use, which reveal the historical and artistic importance of this place.
Between 2004 and 2007, restoration work was carried out on the entire space, and it was re-opened to the public on 25 October 2007.