Valencia, the Cid and a lot more in sunny Spain!

This is one of those cities that should be visited more. I was here as a child when had my aunt on mother’s side living there in a farm just south of the city near El Saler; when we lived in Madrid we would go there as our “vacation” ; then, their passing took us a dry spell of many, many years, finally with my wife and boys ,we decided upon my request to visit the city. Not the greatest impact for all but good enough to enjoyed the sites especially the markets and the beach front. I am talking about Valencia, Spain.

Valencia a city by the mediterranean sea founded in 138BC by Roman consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus with the name of Valentia Edetanorum which later in the middle ages became the capital of the kingdom of Valencia. It’s old town area is the most extensive in all of Spain, 169 hectares! The main motorways of Valencia have a radial route, such as the V-21, the V-31, the A-3 (the one to go from Madrid), the V-15/CV-500, the CV-35 or the CV-36. But Valencia also has a series of beltway roads around it, you are the by-pass, the V-30, which joins the A-7 with the city port, or the CV-30, which borders the north area of the city. The International Airport is located about 8 km west of Valencia, on the territories of the municipalities of Manises and Poblet.

The metro/Subway/tube network of Valencia is the third oldest in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. The Port of Valencia is one of the ports managed by the Port Authority of Valencia (Valenciaport) ;the passenger Terminal of the Port of Valencia is managed by the shipping company Acciona Transmediterranea and has all the necessary services to Meet the demand of cruise ship owners: assistance to the crew, gangways for direct access to ships, passenger parking, gift shops, duty free, etc.

My touristic post on the city was done previously in my blog here: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/08/28/valencia-from-the-el-cid-to-pedmar10/

The natural park of the Albufera has  21 120 hectares located just 10 km south of the city on the way to El Saler which is right on the tip of it. The park includes the Lake Albufera. Its environment is humid, and adjacent to both the coastal strip. The marshes of Rafalell and Vistabella, with an area of 103 hectares, is one of the last marshes that extends to the north of the river Turia at Alboraya Sagunto, which shoots the groundwater and the irrigation. La Horta of Valencia (vegetable garden) was born in the Roman Empire , but what is really today the Horta of Valencia was developed in the Middle Ages, during the Arabic period.  Arabs have created an extensive network of irrigation infrastructures: irrigation canals; Wells; and small dams. This network is derived from the canals of the Turia and allows to the formation of marshes carrying large amounts of water to the irrigation fields.

A bit of history I like

In 711, the city was taken by the Arabs/Moors. Abd al-Allah, the son of Abd al-Rahman I, (first Emir of Cordoba), settled in Balansiya (name of the city in Arabic) and exercised his authority over the region of Valencia.  The Arabs imported their language, religion and customs, but coexistence with Hispanic people is done in a peaceful way. The assimilation of the indigenous population to the Muslim religion and the Arab culture was very rapid, since it was estimated that by the end of the 10C, Christians and Jews represented only 10% of the population. Within the taifa of the Amirides (descendants of Almanzor), Valencia is a city with an important influence.

Here comes the story of El Cid or Rodrigo for my post, who was then staying in Zaragoza, besieges Valencia and takes over the city in July 1093. A skillful politician or an inveterate warrior, Rodrigo does not seem to have aspired to exercise power directly. The arrival of a Almoravid army sent by Emir Youssef Ibn-Tashfin led the Valencians to shake the yoke again. As the Almoravids ran out of food without an arrow being blow, Rodrigo besieged the city again. After vainly awaiting the arrival of reinforcements, Valencia, decimated by hunger, capitulates on June 15, 1094. Rodrigo allied with Pedro I of Aragon and Raimond-Berenguer III of Barcelona with the aim of curbing the constant progression of the Almoravid. In 1096, the Great Mosque was transformed into a church. Then, in 1097, Jérôme de Périgord, acclaimed and elected by the chapter, consecrated by the hand of the Roman Pontiff, was named Bishop of the city. Rodrigo continued to consolidate his power on the Levant, notably with the capture of Murviedro (Sagunto), in 1098, Rodrigo El  Cid died in Valencia on July 10, 1099. Chimenea his wife succeeded in defending the city with the help of his son-in-law Raimond-Berenguer III Count of Barcelona, until 1101 when King Alfonso VI of Castilla ordered the evacuation of the city. From 1102, the family of the El Cid and his companions abandoned the city to the Almoravids. Valencia will only be recaptured definitively from the Arabs moors in 1238, by king Jaime I of Aragon. In 1391, the Christians forced the jewish to convert to Christianism or face death;by 1456 the Muslims face the same dilemma. The 15C is known as the golden age of Valencian culture, and since 1437 the Holy Chalise is preserved in the Cathedral of Valencia.

In the war of Independence vs Napoleon’s invasion,the first battle here took place on 28 june 1808 and you can still see the canons shots in the tower of Quart and lower base on fields around it. The city felled under command of Marshal Suchet on January 8 1812 after a long siege  and lasted until the end of the war in 1814.  In 1936 during the Spanish Civil War Valencia becomes the capital of Republican Spain until 1939.

There is so much to see in Valencia city alone, its incredible. You really several days here. Things to see and do in Valencia, general brief overview. 

Valencia has two urban beaches of golden sand, Las arenas and the beach of Malvarrosa, which are bounded by south the Port of Valencia and north the beach Patacona Alboraya. They are urban beaches, which have a large promenade where there are many large premises, which occupy old public baths, and offer a wide choice of accommodations and local cuisine. There are other beaches like those of Pinedo, with the area of the Black house where the beach is nudist, of Perellonet, of Recatí and the Gola del Perello, more than 15 km of coasts of sand (protected by dunes), which constitute an offer of large beaches , in the heart of the Albufera Natural Park. A must the beaches, Malvarrosa and Las Arenas are right in the city easy.

Valencia

Malvarrosa beach

The royal Chapel of the Virgin of the Forsaken, (Real Capilla de la Virgen de los Desamparados) with Basilica category from 1872, was made between 1652 and 1666 the temple dedicated to Saint Catherine Martyr, located in the Plaza Virgen de la Paz, rose on a previous mosque and in 1245 had already acquired the rank of parish Church. It consists of a single nave, with lateral buttresses between which the chapels were placed. It is the only one of the Gothic churches of the city with an ambulatory in the headrests, like the cathedral the Primitive Church of the Saints Johns was raised in the suburb of the city known as the Boatella, where and located an old mosque. The old hermitage was erected before 1240 on the mosque in the newly erected temple preached St. Vincent Ferrer and there offered his first sermon on the day of St. John the Baptist.  The Church of San Juan del Hospital was the first church built in Valencia, behind the cathedral, as a priory of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. St. Mary’s Cathedral of Valencia  is a must.

Valencia

Basilica de los Desemparados or forsaken

Valencia

St Mary’s Cathedral

The Monasterio de San Miguel de los Reyes isan important work of the Valencian renaissance that according to some authors can be considered as precedent of the monastery of El Escorial, being like this, Jerónimo Monastery, cultural focus and church commemorative of the memory of its Founder. The first stone was placed in 1548 by the bishop and  Fernando of Aragon, Duke of Calabria. The construction of the monastery lasted during the 17C, beginning the church of the monastery from 1601 in 1821 the disentailment of the liberal three years abolished the Jerónima community in 1835 the definitive secularization is produced, passing the monastery ,and their properties at the hands of the state. It is now the home of the Valencian library or Biblioteca de Valenciana. Located in the Avenida de la Constitucion.

There were crosses, which in the Crown of Aragon were used to be called peirones and in other places wayside shrines, were located in the paths to mark the limits of the city ; the one cross covering the Camino Real de Játiva, is still visible on the  current Calle San Vicente. It is a gothic work carried out in the year 1376 (14C) by an unknown author. Between the years 1432 and 1435 (15C) ,the Master of Works Juan del Poyo and the Carver Johan Llobet renewed the cross on behalf of the factory (Fàbrica) of Murs and Valls, and in the 16C the temple restored itself and in 1898 (19C) José Aixá carried out a complete reconstruction of the work.

The building of La Lonja de la Seda is a masterpiece of the Valencian Civil Gothic located in the historical center of the city; Gothic-Renaissance style is the Palacio de Benicarló, the current headquarters of the Valencian courts. This building is an aristocratic mansion, which was built in the 15C as a residence of the Borja family in the capital of the ancient kingdom of Valencia. Between the years 1485 and 1520, adaptation activities of several pre-existing buildings were carried out, as well as the construction of the stone staircase of the patio the palace of the Valencian government is also a building late gothic with interventions Renaissance dating back to the 15C. The construction of the palace began in the year 1421, expanding in the 16C. In 1831 the territorial courts hearing was installed, which in 1922 became the provincial council.  The towers of Serranos are one of the twelve gates that guarded the old wall of the city of Valencia. Las Torres de Quart, a pair of twin towers, also formed part of the medieval wall that surrounded the old town of Valencia, whose function was defend the city. These towers are located at the intersection of Calle Guillén de Castro with Calle Quart.

Valencia

Torres de Quart towers

The Palace of the Marquis de Dos Aguas ( two waters), as it is known today, is the product of a radical reform carried out on the old manor house of the Rabassa of Perellós, holders of the marquis of Dos Aguas, in the decade of 1740 (18C) in a Rococo style houses the National Museum of Ceramics and the arts sumptuary González Martí with one of the most important collection of ceramics in Spain and Europe.In 1914 it became the seat of the Palace of Justice the Plaza Redonda, of singular round perimeter, was built in 1840 ,and is located next to the Church of Santa Catalina and the Plaza de la Virgen, in the historical center of the City.

Valencia

Santa Catalina Church

Valencia

Museum Nacional de Ceramica y artes decorativos

The bullring of Valencia was built between the years 1850 and 1860 (19C) on the site of a previous square that because of budget problems was never finished. It is neoclassical, inspired by Roman civil architecture. There is, also, a bullfighting museum, which was founded in 1929 with funds from the donation of Luis Moróder Peiró and the bull chopper José Bayard Badia, which for years collected a significant number of materials and objects of Valencian bullfighting of the 19C to the 20C .

Valencia

bullfight arena Valencia

The City/town hall (Ayuntamiento)  of Valencia integrates in a slightly trapezoidal block  two constructions of period and style well differentiated: the Casa de Enseñanza or house of Teaching, built by the initiative of the Archbishop Don Andrés Mayoral, between 1758 and 1763; and the building body (the main façade), made between the second and third decades of the  20C in a marked modernist style another of the most important modernist buildings of Valencia is the Estacion del Norte or North station, built between the years 1906 and 1917 the building of the Mercado Central market is also another construction of Valencian modernist style and began to be built in the year 1914 ;the Mercado de Colón (where we parked underground parking!!!) is another clear example of Valencian modernism of the early 20C. This market was designed and built  between the years 1914 and 1916.

Valencia

city hall Valencia

Valencia

Estacion del Norte

Valencia

Mercado central

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Mercado de Colon

The Puente 9 de Octubre or 9th of October Bridge was built in the 1980’s by the then still not recognized Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, by the Bridge of the exhibition (Puente de la Exposicion) and the metro station of the Alameda, which is located under the old channel of the river Turia to which you have to go down to access the station. These works were inaugurated in the year 1995 the complex of the City of Arts and Sciences, also designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, one of the most popular areas of the city. Since,  1998 when the hemispheric (Hemisférico) was inaugurated, and in 2009 with the opening of the Agora. The Museum of Fine Arts St. Pius V and the IVAM (Institut Valencià d’Art Modern) , which are spaces in which permanent collections can be seen as well as temporary.

The botanical garden managed by the University of Valencia, the Royal garden or pots (Jardines Real) in the neighborhood of Pla del Real right where it was located the Royal Palace of Valencia(Palacio del Real de Valencia). Along the vast and nice Paseo de la Alameda you reach it from the sea, today it has a bit over a km walk between the Puente del Real and the Puente de Aragon bridges. The promenade without garden goes for 2,5 km from Plaza Zaragoza to Grao Cemetery. The parterre lawn or Plaza de Alfonso the Magnanimous was built on some existing plots in the old Customs square (Plaza de la Aduana), more or less in the year 1850, since its creation the garden has undergone very few variations, emphasizing fundamentally that due to the flood of 1957 which damaged this garden, thereby changing its morphology. The gardens of Saveros (which include the gardens of Montroy), the Jardín de Monforte  or the gardens of the Túria, former bed of the river Túria, which was deviated from the city center in the 1960’s after the Last flood of 1957. The Oceanogràfico, a oceanarium, a zoological park of 8 hectares, the Biopark Valencia, takes place west of the city by the Turia river too.

Main festivities in Valencia in my opinion are

From March 15 to March 19 the days and nights in Valencia are a continuous party, but since March 1 are shot every day at 14h (2pm)  the popular Mascletás. Fallas is a party with an entrenched tradition in the city of Valencia and different populations of the Valencian Community .yes the Fallas!  Easter has its prolongation with the festivity in honor of St. Vincent Ferrer,(who also is a revered Saint in Brittany and his body rests at the St Peters Cathedral of Vannes!)  Patron of the community canonized by the Pope Calixto III (Alfonso Borja, Spanish). This day is customary to visit the birthplace of the saint (currently a chapel), where it is “the Pouet of Sant Vicent” of which the children are given to drink ,so that they speak soon, they do not suffer from angina, they do not swear false or they are blasphemous. On the second Sunday of May the City of Valencia celebrates the festivity of the Virgin of the Forsaken (Desemparados), popularly known as “La Geperudeta”, affectionate allusion to the slightly stooped posture of one of the images of this vocation of the Virgin. The Corpus Christi procession has historically been considered the big festival of Valencia, especially since the last third of the 14C. The history of this festival begins in the year 1355. And of course ,when in Valencia is the time to eat Paella, the original and always the best , the dish of Valencia , which was originally a humble dish cooked by the inhabitants of the swamp of Albufera mainly of chicken, rabbit, duck, snails, legumes and fresh vegetables (later many variations have come forward). A legend ,I was told by the elders is that the name PAELLA is a contraction on how we speak cutting letters to speak faster so Para Ella or For Her became pa’ella and it was the fisherman out to sea for days to bring the food in to the families and the wives stayed behind to do everything else…One day a fisherman decided that they should all gathered their catch and prepare a dish for the wives, so they did and when a name was called, simply stayed well it is for them/her so PAELLA. I stick to this version.

Some further information to help you plan your visit to the city of Valencia.

Tourism of Valencia : https://www.visitvalencia.com/en

 Ciyt of Valencia in Spanish : http://www.valencia.es/ayuntamiento/laciudad.nsf/vDocumentosTituloAux/origenes?opendocument&nivel=3&lang=1

Spain tourism on Valencia: https://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/ciudades-pueblos/grandes-ciudades/valencia.html

Hope you enjoy the post, and maybe take a look at Valencia! Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments to “Valencia, the Cid and a lot more in sunny Spain!”

  1. I spent a weekend in Valencia last year. You are right it is definitely a city to visit. I liked it better than Barcelona!


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