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Murcia - tranquil shorelines and more

As one of Spain's 17 autonomous communities, Murcia is different to other self-governing districts in the country.

Unlike the majority of autonomous Spanish communities which have several provinces located in the same region, Murcia is wholly contained - however it is the region's magnificent mountain ranges and spectacular coastlines that make it really stand out.

Bordered by Andalucia, Almeria, Granada and Alicante, Murcia is a producer of olive oil, wine, fruits and vegetables and other crops.

Murcia is also recognised to be a major tourist destinations for visitors from the UK, Europe and around the globe.

The region also benefits from two seas - the Mediterranean Sea and the Menor Sea, which lap the shores of Murcia's beaches.

Europe's largest saltwater lagoon, the Menor Sea measures 170 square kilometres. The sea's waters are rich in iodine and salt and contain therapeutic properties which are believed to alleviate ailments such as rheumatism.

There are over 200 beaches on the Murcia coastline, many of which are located on its outstretched "sleeve" known as La Manga. The lagoon is a specially protected zone of importance for the Mediterranean, after being designated as such by the United Nations.

Many of the Menor sea-facing beaches in La Manga are suitable for children and therefore ideal for those on family holidays in Murcia. La Manga itself lies in a valley looked down on by the hills of Murcia.

Beaches such as La Mota, Villananitos, La Puntica, La Veneziola, Chica and Ensenada del Esparto are all popular among tourists. In particular, the Mar Menor sea is popular among watersports enthusiasts.

Despite its glorious beaches, Murcia's charm is not all constrained to its coastline; the city of Murcia itself has a history dating back centuries.

The Cathedral de Santa Maria was finished in the 15th century and is one of the city's major tourist pulls.

If religious architecture does not hold any interest for you the Almudi Palace and the castle of Monteagudo are also worth a visit.

The Monteagudo castle dates back to the 11th century and contains features reminiscent of the region's proximity to the north coast of Africa.

Other locations to visit include the Market de Veronicas, the Malecon Garden, the University of Murcia and the Museum Ramon Gaya which includes works from artists such as Vazquez and Rembrandt.

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