Archive for July 16th, 2018

July 16, 2018

Valencia , a lot more than the Cid!

And coming back to Valencia, a city visited a lot while a young teen as had family living in El Saler just south; a lot less afterward ,until coming back with my dear late wife Martine and sons. It is always another sweet spot for me in my beloved Spain.

It is a nice city to visit by the Mediterranean Sea and the neighborhood of Carmen is glorious indeed. We really enjoyed the market or Mercado Central. However, plenty of that in the posts above.  I like to tell you about the history I like below

Valencia is a city located in the eastern part of the country on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Founded in 138 B.C. by the Roman consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus under the name of Valentia Edetanorum, Valencia became, in the Middle Ages, the capital of the Kingdom of Valencia. The city is crossed by the  Túria river , which was redirected in the  1960’s  as a result of the great Flood of Valencia of 1957. Its old bed is now converted into green spaces, the gardens of the Turia.

Valencia has two urban beaches of golden sand, Las arenas and the beach of Malvarrosa, which are bounded in the  south by the Port of Valencia and on the north by  the Patacona Alboraya beach. These 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.

In 711, the city was taken by the Moors of Northern Africa , 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. In October 1092, a handful of Almoravids scouts arrived at the walls of Valencia. Ibn Djehaf, a member of the Yemeni High Line, carried by the partisan crowd, took the power of the city after having assassinated al-Qadir.  Rodrigo (El Cid), who was then staying in Zaragoza, besieges Valencia and takes over the city in July 1093. A skilful politician or an inveterate warrior, Rodrigo does not seem to have aspired to exercise power directly. Rodrigo  allied with king Peter I of Aragon and Count 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,  was named Bishop of the city. Rodrigo El Cid  continued to consolidate his power on the Levant, notably with the capture of Murviedro (Sagunto), in 1098.  The Cid dies in Valencia on July 10, 1099. Chimena succeeded in defending the city with the help of his son-in-law Raimond-Berenguer III Count of  Barcelona, until 1101 where King Alfonso VI of Castilla ordered the evacuation of the city. From 1102, the family of the Cid and his companions abandoned the city to the Almoravids. Valencia will only be recaptured definitively from the Moors in 1238, by king James I of Aragon.

The 15C was that of the expansion and growth of the Valencian culture, it is known as the Valencian gold century. Since 18 March 1437, the holy Chalice has been preserved in the Cathedral of Valencia. The construction of large palaces and Churches such as the towers of Serrans or the Micalet (steeple of the Cathedral of Valencia). The Llotja silk Stock exchange of the Seda I dels Mercaders (1482), which becomes one of the most important markets in the Mediterranean, where merchants from all over Europe, specialising in the silk trade, was erected.  It is in Valencia that is printed Obres o trobes en la verge Maria, 45 poems of which 40 in Valencian, 4 in Castilian and 1 in Italian, the first printed book of Spain.

During the war of the Spanish Succession (18C), the city joined the camp of Archduke Charles of Austria, resistant to the rout of the Battle of Almansa on April 25, 1707, abandoned the English army took refuge in Valencia to its fate. In retaliation, the Bourbons put the kingdom to the sack and withdrew its privileges.

The Mercado Central and the Colom market are built, and in 1921 the work of the current València-Nord railway station is completed. In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, Valencia became the capital of Republican Spain until 1939. The City of Arts and Sciences carried out by Santiago Calatrava, sports facilities  such as Gulliver Park. The city also has several museums, including the Valencian Institute of Modern Art (IVAM).  The City of Arts and Sciences revolves around six buildings, including a shady garden, the l’umbracle, and the Oceanogràfic, a oceanarium. A zoological park of 8 hectares, the Biopark Valencia, takes place in the west of the city.


Other nice buildings are the St Mary’s Cathedral, Micalet steeple of the cathedral Church of Santa Catalina , hte Borgia Palace, and St. Nicholas and St. Peter’s Church.



From the 15th to the 19th of March, the days and nights in Valencia become a continuous feast. The Fallas  with very humble origins because they come from the night of San Jose (St Joeph) when we burned the waste of the carpentry workshops. However, the inventiveness of the Valencian people has added all the features peculiar to its culture and history. In Valencia, there is also a bullfighting museum, founded in 1929 with funds from the gift of Luis Moróder Peiró and the bullfighter José Bayard Babu, who for years gathered a large number of materials and objects from the 19C  to early 20C of  Valencia.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

tourist office of Valencia

history in Spanish from the city hall of Valencia :

Comunidad Valenciana on tourism:

To give you a bit on the area where I spent my late  youth and early teen years at El Saler , and the beautiful  Albufera Natural Park , the real home of the Paella Valenciana.

the Beaches of El Saler

Albufera National Park

Official Parque de la Albufera

Hope it help visit and enjoy this wonderful region of my beloved Spain.  Or as we said in the 80’s, Spain ,everything under the Sun!

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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July 16, 2018

Welcome back to Barcelona!

A nice city of Spain, and always of Spain; been here several times family and business ,and even my oldest son in school exchange program. The city has a rich independent history facing the Mediterranean Sea and open to Europe.

There is much to do here and a few blog posts are not enough; the tourist story are in the post above , I like to tell you more about the history and the city of Barcelona.

Barcelona capital of Catalunya and the province of Barcelona, kingdom of Spain. Located on the Mediterranean coastline, it is crossed by the rivers Llobregat and Besòs and bordered to the west by the Serra de Collserola which culminates at 512 meters (summit: Tibidabo). Barcelona is located 180 km from the pass of Perthus and the French border. On the other side of the Pyrenees lies the Department of Pyrénées-Orientales, France.

To get in and around the Barcelona International Airport at 15 km in El Prat ,but also those of Girona and Reus at about one hour, the maritime port is one of the most important of the Mediterranean with plenty of cruises, Train service is good and well connected to Madrid by a high-speed line; the stations are  Barcelona Sants main station to the west of the city and Barcelona França by the seaside. A network of commuter trains, Rodalies de Catalunya, composed of seven lines and operated by the RENFE, thus allowing to reach the various cities of Catalunya. And highways  such as to  Madrid by AP-2 and to Valencia and France by the AP-7; both good and taken. The Metro has 11 lines including three automatic lines.  There is a Tramway, reintroduced with the inauguration in May 2004 of four lanes (broken down into six lines) with a total length of 45 km, all governed by the Autoritat del Transport Metropolità (ATM). Their function is to provide service to the peripheral areas while creating connections with the metro lines. These are two independent tramway networks: the Trambaix and the Trambesòs.

A Roman city of Barcino attribute this construction to the son of Emperor Augustus, apparently on a Iberian site. In December 414, Barcino was taken by the Visigoths of Athaulf from Italy. At the fall of the Roman Empire, it became the capital of the Visigothic kingdom (415, 507-510 and 531-548). In 714-716, the Muslim armies under the command of Mûsâ Ibn Nusayr took over the city during the first assault. They called it Barshalûna where the present name derives, and named as Governor Sulayman ibn Yaqzan ibn al-Arabi. Barcelona is then part of al-Andalus.  In 801, the Carolingians conquered the city. They transformed it into the capital of the county of Barcelona, in 856, it was again occupied by the Muslims. In 859, Barcelona was looted by the Vikings of Chief Hasting, who came from Nantes, France, and had overwintered in the French Camargue. In 985, al-Mansur, the almighty minister of the Caliph Umayyad of Córdoba, a town south of Al-Andalus, took Barcelona by assault. Count Borrell II asks for help from his overlord of France. Neither he nor his Byzantine ally could help him, as a feudal law required, the county denounced its ties of suzerainty and took a de fact independence.

The Counts-Kings (later became kings of Aragon, Valencia and Majorca) had to contend with their third state. The establishment of a feudal state in Catalonia during the 11C did not only involve the county of Barcelona, which took some dominance over the other counties. From the 14C onwards, the city entered a period of decline following the extinction of the Catalan dynasty and the succession by the Castilian family of the Trastamara, culminating with the marriage of king Ferdinand II of Aragon and queen Isabel of Castilla (the Catholic Kings).  Later on to make the story short on only the main points, by  1931, following the municipal elections, the candidate of the Catalan Republican Party ERC, one hour before the proclamation of the Spanish Republic, proclaimed the Catalan Republic which ultimately led to the autonomy of Catalonia. From 1936, Spain embraced during the Civil War; Barcelona supported the Republican forces and organized in July 1936 the popular Olympics to challenge the organization of the Berlin Olympics. It was severely bombarded by the Italians in March 1938 before being taken by the Franco forces in February 1939.

The town is divided into six districts and themselves into neighborhoods. In my opinion for the visitors the best are the old city: El Raval, Gothic, Barceloneta, and Ribera. The Eixample with Sant Antoni,  new left side of the Eixample, the old Left of the Eixample , the right side of Barcelona’s Eixample, the Sagrada Família, and Fort Pienc. Sants-Montjuïc  with the  Poble Sec, La Marina del Prat Vermell, La Marina de Port, , Hostafrancs, Sants, Badal-Corral, the Saints, le parc de Montjuïc Les Corts with the  Les Corts, la Maternitat i Sant Ramon ,and  Pedralbes. Sant Martí with El Camp de l’Arpa del Clot, the Clot, the Park and the Laguna del Poblenou , The Vila Olimpica del Poblenou , the Poblenou, Diagonal Mar and Front Marítim del Poblenou , The Waterfront and the Maresme , Provençals del Poblenou  , Sant Martí de Provençals, and the La Verneda i la Pau.

Some things to see amongst many are

The Ramblas are the emblematic avenue and promenade of Barcelona connecting the Plaça de Catalunya, the nerve center of the city, to the old Port where the Christopher Columbus column stands. The heart of the Old Town, the Barri Gòtic is the oldest district in Barcelona. It includes vestiges of Roman Barcelona such as the wall or columns of the temple of Augustus as well as many medieval buildings including the Cathedral of St. Eulalie and houses various administrative buildings of Medieval origins including the Casa de la Ciutat (City Hall) or the palace of the Generalitat of Catalunya. From the maze of alleys, Plaça Nova has two cylindrical towers dating back to Roman times or Plaça del Rei, seat of the Palau Reial Major, County and Royal Residence . Also very popular, Plaça del Pi is one of the central hubs of this area stretching to the edge of the Born.

The Eixample is the result of a planned extension of the city (in Catalan, eixample means “widen, enlarge” it was divided into 9 km2 that make up this part of the city in 550 blocks called Poma , themselves interspersed by perfectly parallel streets and boulevards, with the exception of three avenues: the Meridian, to the north whose north/south route runs along an arc of Meridian, the Parallel to the south whose east/west path follows a parallel and the avenue Diagonal (Avinguda Diagonal) which crosses the entire city from the southwest to the northeast.  There are a large number of modernist buildings and, in particular the famous Sagrada Família, an unfinished work by Antoni Gaudí, the works of the three main Catalan architects are found at Passeig de Gràcia: La Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch; The Casa Batlló and La Pedrera by Antoni Gaudí; and La Casa Lleó Morea de Lluís Domènech i Montaner.

The Basilica of Sagrada Família has become the emblem of Barcelona. Started in 1882, its construction still continues. Only the facade of the Nativity and its four slender towers are definitively finished. The  Parc de la Ciutadella is the place where the Universal exhibition of 1888 was held. From that time on, there was the Arc de Triomphe  by which was entered into the exhibition grounds and the present Museum of Zoology, which housed a café-restaurant. The park is named because king Felipe V (the representative of the Bourbons during the war of Succession from 1702 to 1717) built a citadel at this place by removing a district: It was used to monitor the inhabitants and above all to avoid a certain rebellion . The interior of the park is in addition to the Museum of Zoology, a Museum of Geology, the ancient arsenal of the Citadel that hosts the Parliament of Catalunya, a waterfall of Antoni Gaudí and the Zoological Garden of Barcelona where you can admire dolphins.

The Parc Güell, located on the heights of the city; here nature and architecture merge and complement each other in these places. The Castell de Montjuïc castle dominates the city and its harbor offering a magnificent viewpoint. A gondola allows access to it. Below is the Olympic site of 1992 and, even lower, the site of the Universal Exhibition of 1929, dominated by the Palau Nacional which hosts the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC) as well as by the Font Màgica whose games of water, sound and light has welcome many tourists at night.   The Barceloneta bordering the old Port (port Vell) of the city has undergone significant changes since the creation of the Vila Olimpica for the Games of 1992, with its twin towers of the Torre Mapfre and the Hotel Arts.  Going around the layout of the beach, bordered by a casino, restaurants, private clubs, luxury hotels ,and bars, and that of the Port Vell with its Rambla de Mar, the shopping centre Maremagnum and The Aquarium of Barcelona.

One of these two exceptional museums is the one dedicated to Joan Miró (collection bequeathed by the painter himself). The other is the museum dedicated to Pablo Picasso (the works of this artist are exhibited in an ancient medieval palace). The city also houses the National Art Museum of Catalunya (MNAC) with many original Romanesque frescoes, while copies have been exhibited at the site of the discovery of the original works, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA), the Museum of History of Barcelona (MUHBA), or the Archaeological Museum of Catalunya.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Barcelona:

City of Barcelona in English:

 You will do well to visit Barcelona ,is a different Spain but still Spain. It has a more central European feel to it, and the reason is the favorite city of the French tourists. Enjoy it ,hope it helps

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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