The most emblematic building in the city of Murcia took over four centuries to build, and is the Cathedral. Work started in the 15th century, but it was not until the end of the 18th that the Murcianos could at last stand back and marvel at the finished article, the largest and most important place of worship in the city.
The building dominates the plaza in which it stands in the centre of the city, and is the best-known structure in Murcia. It can be said that even today it is to a large extent the hub around which everyday life in the city revolves, and it is at the centre of the old city.
At present it is not only used as a place of worship but is also home to a museum, but don't worry: entrance to the Cathedral is free of charge, unlike in some other cities! There is, however, an entrance fee for the "Museo Catedralício" and the tower, and logically enough a guided tour will also require payment if you would like to hear interesting anecdotes about the Cathedral.
Given that the building took 400 years to complete it is hardly surprising that the exterior features numerous artistic styles, although the actual structure of the Cathedral is Gothic in design.
However, the so-called door of the chains (see the stone chains) and the first floor of the tower belong to the Renaissance style, and the eastern end of the building, inside which the main altar is located is decorated with a variety of iconographic figures. These are features of the Baroque period, a particularly rich one in the art and architecture of Murcia, as we change eras. There's certainly nothing like Murcian art!
The real significance and importance of the Cathedral over the centuries in the life of Murcia, though, is perhaps best appreciated after leaving the city on the second stage of the Camino de Levante. Heading towards Alguazas on the way to Caravaca, take a look back and you will be able to see the tower from the farmland of the "huerta", and for a long time this visibility provided orientation for farmers and residents on the flat arable plain of the Segura valley. If you can see it, then it has served its purpose.