Valencia is an old city with a rich history, our ancestors have been
a mixture of Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Jews and Christians. Such a mix
has been the cause of the well-known open character of its people, that
together with the many traditions, including the famous Las Fallas,
the Wonderful Mediterranean weather, the tasty typical food dishes and the
beauty of the land itself makes it a very attractive place.
The historic center of the city lies around the Cathedral.
Splendid symbols of the cultures gone by are: The Metropolitan Cathedral
which was begun in 1262, preserves Gothic structures in La Puerta de los
Apostoles (Entrance Gate of the A.), in the Chapter House of the
Holy Chalice and in the Lanter, and Romanesque ones in La Puerta del
Palau, while the main entrance and the presbytery are Baroque.
The octagonal Gothic belfry of the cathedral is affectionately known as
El Micalet (little Michael).
It dates from the 14th and 15th
century and is the landmark of the city.
The Royal Basilica of
Our Lady of Los Desamparados, the 15th century Gothic image of
the patron saint of Valencia and its people. Vault painting in fresco
by Palomino. The regional government palace (Palau de la Generalitat)
combines several styles. Renaissance coffering with Arab traces.
Assembly Hall (Salon de Cortes) with paintings by Zariñena.
La Bayla Palace, 16th century Gothic, seat of the provincial government,
and La Scala Palace in the same style, but with Renaissance additions, are
being refurbished. Both are apart of the building complex on Manises Square.
The best preserved remains of Islamic Valencia are "Abd-al-Malik´s Baths",
more widely known as Baños del Almirante (Admiral´s Baths).
There are also some houses in Salinas St where traces of the Arab presence
can still be found. In this area, fragments of the former wall can also
be seen. In the course of this itinerary, one should stop at El Portal
de Valldigna, visit the 14 century Serranos Towers, the former
entrance gates to the city and protected today as a historic
site, the 15th century Les Roques House, where the triumphal carriages
of the Valencia Corpus processions are kept today, the 15th century
Royal Monastery of La Trinidad at the beginning of Alboraya St
as well as the Bridges and Parapets along the old bed of Turia, which
were built between the 16th and 18th century and some of which are of
undeniable artistic value.
Other interesting examples of Gothic religious buildings are the
14th century Church of San Juan del Hospital, which was built
by the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem; Santo Domingo Convent
founded as a result of the Reconquest, where San Vicente Ferrer used
to live, today a military church, splendid Chapter House and Cloister;
San Nicolas Parish Church with an art treasure well worth a visit;
San Agustin P. Ch., where the bronze group above the lintel of the
portal stands out, and Santa Catalina P. Ch. with an octagonal Baroque
belfry held to be one of the most beautiful in Spain. Civil Gothic is
especially well represented by the 15th century Lonja de Mercaders,
an auction hall, built by Pere Compte and perhaps one of the best
buildings in Europe. The hall with helicoidal columns and the rib
vaulting will come as a pleasant surprise to the visitor. The Quart
Towers of the middle of the 15th century used to be the entrance gate
to the city for those who came from the lands of Castile.
Baroque are the Church of Los Santos Juanes (Sant Joan del Mercat),
which faces La Lonja, San Juan de la Cruz with skirtings of glazed tiles
from Manises and San Esteban where (according to the legend) El Cid´s
daughters married and where San Vicente Ferrers font is kept. In the
vicinity there are also the Palace of the Marquises of Dos Aguas, an
old mansion (refurbished in the 18th century) with a Churrigueresque
portal, the 16th century Graeco-Roaman Royal College of El Corpus Christi,
more widely known as El Patriarca in reference to San Juan de
Ribera, its founder, the University, where Juan Luis Vives, the
universally famous native of Valencia, was a student, the 18th century
Palace-cum-Monastery of El Temple, which is the seat of central government
representation today. El Palacio de Justicia (the Law Courts),
which is also of the 18th century and was originally meant to house
the Customs, and the City Hall, which is a building of the beginning of
the century with an important collection of incunables and illuminated
books, such as the Consolat del Mar, the Llivre del Furs and the one of
the Mustaçaf, La Senyera, the Peño
de la Conquesta and the sword of Don Jaime el Conquistador.
The Taula de Canvis and the paintings by Zariñena, Vergara,
Vicente López, Sorolla, etc., deserve special mention.
Since there is not enough room to list all that remains to be described of
this city of light, which so often has been called the "cradle of art",
special attention should be given at least to the House where San Vicente
Ferrer was born, which is almost a place of pilgrimage for the people of
Valencia, and the Cruces de Termino, crosses indicating the
boundaries of municipal. Of Modernist architecture are the Bullring,
El Norte Station, Colon Market and the Central Market,
one of the best in Europe.