THERE ARE MANY REASONS TO VISIT MURCIA; it is a very beautiful city. On a warm sunny day it can rival any other city in Spain. Approaching the centre of town and crossing the Rio Segura to the Gran Via there is a pleasing view along the river. We see the Government buildings of the Glorieta De Espana facing the river on the left bank while the handsome market hall sits in a leafy street a little way along the river. There is the magnificent Cathedral on one side of the Gran Via and on the other side sits the Plaza Del Flores and the Plaza De Catalina. For the casual visitor, driving and parking in Murcia could be a daunting prospect as the fast, torrential traffic and one-way systems appear horrendous. In my modest opinion, the best way to get into town is by rail arriving at the Murcia Del Carmen station. The train ride from Albetera Catral is as ‘cheap as chips’, (certainly less expensive than a days parking), and a good deal less stressful. Helpfully, RENFE train timetables can be found on the internet. Alas, arriving in Murcia, there is a twenty-minute walk from the railway station to the centre of town. Never mind; there are taxis on hand and the walk is not an unpleasant one on a cool spring or autumn day.
This brings me to the central point of this article. Being interested in art can take one to some fascinating places. In Spain, every city seems to have painting and sculpture in abundance. Ranging in size and distinction from the Museo Del Prado, arguably one of the top five art institutions on the planet to Alicante and Murcia with two or three excellent art galleries each. Included in this roll of honour must be the Museo De Ramon Gaya in Murcia. Recently refurbished, the gallery interior looks charming in its new coat of paint. The galley building, located on the Plaza De Catalina is an historic monument in its own right. It was the town house of a wealthy citizen and has been converted into a particularly agreeable art gallery.
Ramon Gaya was born in 1910 in Murcia. He lived in Mexico for much of his life but returned frequently to Spain. During Franco’s administration, artists were often perceived as subversive but Gaya seems to have been non-political and no menace to the authorities. He died fairly recently in 2005 in Valencia living to the age of 95. His medium was watercolour, gouache and oil and he used these to produce some delightfully domestic scenes of Spanish life in a bygone age. In the Museo De Ramon Gaya, we see vignettes and glimpses of old Spain painted in an exquisitely expressive style. Gaya is able to use an economy of line and colour that creates a striking impact on the viewer. Every aspiring artist can learn much from a visit to this gallery. Murcia is rightly proud of its talented son and this ‘jewel like’ art gallery is a civic expression of that pride.
If you have the opportunity to visit Murcia, if you are artistically minded and if you have time in-between coffee in the Cathedral Square and the two huge Court Ingles pop into to the Museo De Ramon Gaya.
Entry is free and there is a lift to the first two floors. The top floor is only accessible by spiral stairs. No information in English available at the gallery.
Train timetables in English: www.renfe.com/EN (Click on ‘commuter trains’ section).
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