Murcia Cathedral

History of, and guide to Murcia cathedral, a fine historic monument.

The Story of Murcia Cathedral

The magnificent cathedral of Our Lady of Grace in the Spanish city of Murcia, saw its foundation stone laid by Bishop D Fernandez de Pedrosa in 1394 on the remains of a Moorish mosque. The fundamental construction was completed in 1467.

With a time span of seventy-three years it is inevitable that the Cathedral has a great variety of architectural styles, but is mainly composed of the Gothic and the Baroque.

The cathedral is still home to the Catholic Council, an old medieval institution, which has the responsibility of the upkeep and conservation of this historic building. The cathedral is considered to be the first temple of the Diocese, and has a constant display of Christian Art.

The primary façade is justifiably said to be one of the greatest examples of Baroque architecture in the world, standing 58 metres (or 188 ft) high, it is an imposing feature, and was designed by the master of Spanish Baroque Jaime Bort, and completed in 1754. The Apostles gate entrance is octagonal and is a beautiful example of Gothic design.

The tower, which stands on the left of the cathedral was started in 1521 but not completed until 1792, some 271 years later. The tower which has a mixture of architectural styles is 90 metres in height and is the highest building in Murcia. The idea for the tower, which has 112 apertures rather than windows, 18 ramps and a spiral staircase with 167 steps, was the brainchild of the German bishop M .Mateo de Lang, assisted by the Italian artist Jacobo Florentin, who was a follower of Michelangelo. The tower has a peal of twenty bells, one of which was a gift from King Juan 1st in 1382, and was called the ‘Moors.’ These bells would sound to let the citizens of Murcia know about important events, they were also used to warn the city when the River Segura was flooding. Each of the bells has its own name such as La Catalana, La Fuensanta and La Segundilla.

The interior of the cathedral has many treasures in store for the visitor, including the main altar, the choir stalls and a host of side chapels.

The door of the Apostles was constructed in 1488 and designed by Diego Sánchez de Almazán in the Gothic style, it features sculptures of the four apostles and the shield of the Catholic queen Isabel.

The cathedral museum is housed in the cloisters and Chapter House, and was first opened to the public in 1956, and is open daily from 10.00am to 1.00pm and 5.00pm to 8.00pm. Amongst its most interesting features is a Roman Sarcophagus, dating back to the 3rd century A.D. There is also a precious monstrance crafted in Toledan Silver, and a fine example of Francisco Salzillo’s work, “St. Jerome the Penitent”.

A visit to this splendid cathedral with its fountain of peace and knowledge should be an inspiration to us all.

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