Today, we sailed to Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city. Here’s why we loved it!
The first thing we noticed about Valencia was all the contemporary buildings.
Valencia’s Dilemma Solved
Right away, though, the tour guide pointed out an anomaly that had nothing to do with the modern architecture. We crossed an area where there were bridges but no water body below of any type. It turns out that they moved the river that ran through this city, but this was after many of the bridges were already built.
Why? The river periodically flooded the city, so they moved it. The old river bed is now a park that runs through the city underneath the bridges.
The eighteen bridges, some very old and some fairly new, are used to move pedestrians and traffic overhead. The park down below is for walking and all kinds of recreation.
Chuck and I both laughed at the thought of moving a whole river in America, especially in Florida. What a permitting nightmare!
This is Valencia
The orange is a symbol of Valencia found throughout the city in mosaics, tiles, statues, architectural details, and even the orange trees lining the streets. No bride walks the aisle in Valencia without some form of orange blossoms in her bouquet. The orange blossom here is a symbol of eternal love and purity.
Being from Florida we could identify. Thin skinned, extra sweet, and juicy, our Valencia oranges have generated a lot of revenue for Florida. There is also a Valencia, Florida in Polk County in Florida’s citrus country. I guess this Valencia, Spain is where both the orange and the Florida town got their names.
Valencia, a population of about 800,000, is where paella comes from, too. And I learned that the pan from which it is cooked is called a paella pan. We could buy them from the street vendors here.
There are about 1.2 million total people in the entire area in and around the city.
As part of our tour, we walked inside the Central Mercat which is in a glorious building and full of every food product imaginable. Chuck loves these places, and I enjoy them as well.
Nearby, we visited a temple of commerce, otherwise known as La Lonja de la Seda, a silk exchange, and a UNESCO site. Built between 1482 and 1548, it is about 2000 sq. feet. It was built when Valencia was the center of commerce for the Mediterranean in trade. It was like a commodities market.
The room below is called the “Hall of Columns” and here the merchants operated the exchange.
The city of Valencia is in the region of Valencia, as Madrid is in the region of Castille. In Catalonia hanging from windows, we saw Catalonian flags for Catalan nationalism. Here we see Spanish flags, as these people are against Catalonia seceding.
In addition, we saw Valencia’s bullfighting ring. Called the Plaza de Toros de Valencia it was built between 1850 and 1859. Neoclassical in design, the Colosseum in Rome was its inspiration. When it was first built it seated over 16,000 spectators.
Home of the Holy Grail
Built in 1472 during this city’s golden age, the Cathedral of Valencia has Renaissance and Baroque interiors.
It is also home to the Holy Grail.
The Holy Grail is kept in the Cathedral’s Chapel of the Holy Chalice. It is kept behind glass in the wall back of the altar below.
This is believed to be the agate stone cup used by Jesus during The Last Supper.
Archeologists said it was agate that came from near Jerusalem and aged about 1 BC. Jesus performed the last supper in a hall of St. Mark’s the Evangelist’s family and it may have been theirs, a ceremonial cup.
The decorations of gold and pearls as well as the base were added later during the Middle Ages, partly to protect it. It was taken to Rome when St. Marks was an interpreter for St. Peter. It stayed in Rome until the 3rd Century when it was removed from there by a Spanish soldier in anticipation of a persecution. Later during a Muslim occupation in Spain, it was hidden in the Pyrenees along with many other relics.
During the 15th century, the Holy Chalice finally came to the Valencia Cathedral where it remains today. I think out of all the relics I’ve seen, this one means the most to me.
A Water Tribunal
Every Thursday a Water Tribunal meets in public at the Casa Vestidor in the Plaza de la Mare de Deu to discuss various issues regarding the distribution of water. There are eight judges that determine who gets water.
They meet at 8 AM. This process was chosen as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. The court is purely oral with nothing done in writing and no records kept. the tribunal has been meeting for centuries.
From here we were on our own. Just inside the city gate, we stopped for lunch.
A shuttle bus runs between the pier and to an area across the river, that is the park that used to be a river. From there you can walk across the bridge through the city gate and be in the heart of the city in 2 to 3 minutes of walking. For us, the last shuttle left from here at 5 PM returning to the ship.
Valencia was such a pleasant surprise, and several of us thought that this may be our favorite city of the entire trip. What a great city for touring. ❤️ Valencia! Here are some more scenes.
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