Baroque is undoubtedly the most characteristic art style of the city of Murcia, and if you own a property at La Manga Club, you have the opportunity to see all the best examples of its architecture, sculpture and painting. The interiors and exteriors of a wide variety of lavish churches throughout the region should be your first port of call.
The Baroque churches of the city of Murcia are a cornerstone of its historical legacy and it’s impossible not to be mesmerized by imposing facades like that of the Cathedral, or the Museum of Francisco Salzillo, the Baroque sculptor and visionary who gave the city most of the floats used in its Holy Week processions. Though there are small differences in the shapes and sizes of domes and facades, remodeling from the neoclassical eras, and differences in the colour of the tile glazing and the elaborateness of the interiors, the Murcian Baroque churches share a Latin Cross floorplan and similar dimensions.
Today, besides notable examples like the Cathedral, we propose a tour of three churches that are emblematic of Murcia’s Baroque and that form part of an important historical-artistic heritage. You can visit them when you take a day away from your home at La Manga Club to delve into this art form in all its splendour.
Church of San Nicolás
We begin our tour at the Church of San Nicolás, one of the most traditional churches in the historical centre of Murcia and also one of the best examples of Murcia’s splendid Baroque style. Its origins date back to the Muslim era, as it is located on the site of a mosque that, after the Reconquest, was converted into a Christian church. However, the current building dates back to the first half of the 18th century, when the architect Joseph Pérez was commissioned to finish the church’s façade.
In this temple, with a Latin Cross floorplan, side chapels and two doorways, you will find the perfect illustration of the most refined Baroque style of architecture, in which the alternation between geometric effects and malleable shapes is visible in the diagonal arrangement of its pilasters, the octagonal dome, the square tower, the facades and an interior with stucco decoration, all typical of the Baroque.
Everything is embellished by the sculptural works of masters such as Francesco Salzillo, to whom the capitals, garlands and medallions with religious motifs that adorn both doors of the church have been attributed.
Walking by the Church of San Nicolás, you won’t be able to pass up entering; its main façade, the greatest jewel of Baroque art in the city, will leave you in awe.
Church of San Miguel
Continuing your walk through the historical centre of Murcia, you’ll come across another parish of medieval origin, built between 1691 and 1712, and well preserved from destruction and transformation. This is the Church of San Miguel, an essential visit in your journey through the Baroque churches. You will be amazed by the beauty of its altarpieces, the brilliance of its decorative gilding and its great sculpture collection, so characteristic of the dedication and care put into the elaboration of Murcia’s temples throughout the 18th century.
The most representative element of the Church of San Miguel is, without a doubt, the main altarpiece. It is one of the best examples of a Baroque altarpiece, not just within in the city, but in the whole Region of Murcia. It was commissioned in 1731 to Jacinto Perales and Francisco Salzillo, and it is a fine example of the new model of alterpieces, which were designed to be architectural works in their own right. The central niche is more emphasized than in earlier altarpieces, the tabernacle advances over the lateral bodies, and the touches of colour contributed by the imagery begin to edge out the complete predominance of gilt.
The whole church acts a showcase for Francisco Salzillo’s sculpture, in which some of the most important Rococo works from the artist’s youth stand out. These include the Sagrada Familia, a group of small images of which only the heads, hands and feet are carved. Other examples are La Inmaculada, inspired by Andalusian paintings, and the ancient Dolorosa de los Santos Pasos, an image that is the central part of the altarpiece on the side of the epistle and which has formed part of the Brotherhood of Health’s float since 1963 on the Easter Tuesday procession during Murcia’s Holy Week.
Church of Santa Eulalia
Located in one of Murcia’s bohemian neighbourhoods and on the square of the same name, the beautiful church of Santa Eulalia forms a historical complex with the adjacent Chapel of San José and the Musuem of the Santa Eulalia Arabic Wall (Centro de Interpretación de la Muralla Árabe de Santa Eulalia).
Built in the Baroque-Rococo style of the second half of the 18th century, it was most likely designed by Martín Solera in 1765. It has a façade with a curved split pediment, characteristic of 18th Century Levantine architecture, and has a Latin Cross floorplan, four intercommunicating chapels on both sides of the central nave, and a domed transept with a rectangular presbytery. Its doorway is one of the most dynamic examples of religious architecture in Murcia, featuring a relief of Santa Eulalia. The altarpieces of the main chapel and transept were painted later, between 1779 and 1781, by the Italian José Pablo Sístori, in perspective and using a trompe-l’oeil technique and many elements of neoclassicism.
The Church of Santa Eulalia also includes several sculptures by Francisco Salzillo, among them the image of San Blas, one of the most popular, ancient and venerated saints in Murcia. Every year, between the end of January and the beginning of February, the Plaza de Santa Eulalia hosts the San Blas festivities, the oldest in the city.
In addition to those already mentioned, there are many other Baroque churches worth a visit. So as soon as you get a chance to leave your property at La Manga Club and take a walk through the magnificent city of Murcia, visit the historical centre and find yourself entranced by the sheer quantity of precious art on every corner.