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TOURIST INFORMATIONHISTORY1 OCTOBER 2020

HISTORY OF THE CITY

The year 825 to the thirteenth

The city of Murcia was founded by the Abd-Al-Rahman II, Arab emir of Cordoba in 825. Although the presence of Muslims in the region dates back to the year 713, when General Abdelaziz came in through the Guadalentin Valley on the way to Cartagena to face the Spanish-Visigoths. This resulted in complete chaos for the first hundred years, as civil wars occurred continuously between the ethnic groups that inhabited the territory of Murcia. This is why the above mentioned emir sent his army to pacify the area and to lay foundations of a city in the center of the valley of the river Segura that favored the development of the whole province. Therefore he chose to start settling down on the elevated ground beside the river.

It is likely that an Iberian and Roman settlement had existed before on this spot of land. There are many archaeological discoveries that prove so, although part of them got destroyed in modern times, as is the case of the Roman baths, among other locations, over which the current Gran Vía Sculptor Salzillo has been built. At the time that the city was created, it got surrounded by a 15 meters high defensive wall punctuated by 95 towers and nine gates that communicated with the outside. In addition, the city was protected by the bed of the river and the main irrigation channel that ran on its northern side.

The only remains standing today are known as some " wall pieces " ( muralla árabe) of which the most important one has been restored and is visibly located at the back of the famous Veronicas Market to the right of the Almudí Palace. Many other remains are scattered around the city, but given their limited historical and archaeological importance they are relegated to stay hidden, if not demolished, in the basements and garages of new buildings.

From the thirteenth to the fourteenth century

To carry on with the story, by the thirteenth century, disorder prevails throughout the kingdom, which moves to uprisings in towns such as Lorca, Mula, Aledo and Cartagena. On the other hand, the Emir of Granada to makes and intent of invading the kingdom at the border of Murcia while the Kingdom of Castile has most of Albacete regained since 1213, which was considered as a Spanish province at the time and all throughout the Middle Ages, thanks to its annexation to Toledo and Cuenca. This leads to an agreement between the last Arab emirs and the Crown which ensures Murcia’s independency and protection from the Crown; this way, many cities of the region became dependent on Castilian garrisons while respecting the authority of the Moor emir, compromise performed between 1243 and 1244.

In 1266 (February) Jaime I of Aragón enters the city annexing it to the kingdom of Castile and towards the end of the century , Murcia passes from being protected to being governed by the Crown of Castile. Thereafter, Murcia underwent a gradual transformation of slowly adapting to the Christian way of life. One such work was carried out by James I himself, who ordered the construction of a wide street passing straight through the Arab souk in order to connect the mosque with the “Market Place”, typical medieval establishment where the local trade of the city was carried out. 

At that time, the mosque was situated where the Cathedral can now be found, and the Market Square was right about where the Plaza de Santo Domingo is located. The straight wide road is known today as Trapería. This street, along with the perpendicular one called Platería, form a crossroads that runs through the old town from one end to the other.

For centuries, the point where both streets meet in the shape of  a cross was known as the Four Corners of San Cristobal, due to the appearance of a saint image in a niche. Todaythis spot is unofficially called the "Four Corners ". The Platería y Trapería names (Tatters and Silverware) have been preserved to the present day referring to medieval existent trade, workshops and business that dealt with Maltese, Genoese, Catalans, etc.

From the fourteenth to the twentieth century

Towards the end of the fourteenth century and during the fifteenth century all the Moors were expelled from the region which pacified all area territories  and borders with neighboring regions, which reflected a period of stability in the development of Murcia. This way, every city in the kingdom grew and prospered in the sixteenth century. The art and culture were also revitalized and projected major works such as the construction of the Church of La Merced (currently the adjacent building to the campus of La Merced). The seventeenth century was especially hard in Murcia because of several factors: the weather was destroying harvests entirely, epidemics decimated the population and the presence of Barbary pirates who plundered the coasts prevented any outside contact by sea.

The eighteenth century was not much better in this regard, but the development of a mining and industrial economy began that would add to the previous centuries traditional sectors as: agriculture, crafts and trade. After this somewhat favorable time, the nineteenth century opens with a new crisis caused by a period of drought, followed by heavy flooding followed by the war against Napoleon in 1809 and the occupation of the city of Murcia by French troops.

In addition, malarial fevers ravaged cities like Cartagena and Caravaca, yellow fever was raging in Mazarrón and Cartagena, and the cholera did the same in Puerto Lumbreras and Lorca. Politically, the Republican ideas brought on the revolution of 1868 and the 73 secessionist outbreak  in which the canton of Murcia was proclaimed.

Twentieth century to the present

Murcia enters the twentieth century in a clear underdevelopment marked by the inability of the region to join the national and international markets, because of a precarious situation, caused by the absence of foreign capital industry and the existence of a mostly regional trade. However, the support from the General Primo de Rivera (1923-1929) launched an effective management policy on these lands. Thus Murcia joined the rhythm of the country definitely strengthening its industry, enhancing the canning, citrus and paprika sectors, and modernizing its agriculture.

Afterwards the Republic will be implemented throughout the state and after the Civil War, a brand new kingdom of Spain is set under the watchful eye of General Francisco Franco. The Region is extended to the province of Albacete. After this regime and the arrival of democracy, the region recovers its provincial character, trying to match the economic and political activities of its major cities, Cartagena and Murcia.

 In the 80s and 90s the city of Murcia achieves socio- economic levels not known until then, and high compared to other cities with similar characteristics of the national territory. Murcia City faces the challenge of the twenty first century with renewed forces. A strong economic momentum makes of this area an important point of modernized structures - both economically and communication-wise - that expand and intertwine with people in the environment and those beyond its geographical boundaries.

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