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Orchestral Concerts in Mercado Colón

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Do you enjoy Sunday morning coffee? Free stuff? Orchestral concerts? Stunning historical buildings?

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If you said “yes” to at least 2 out of 4 of these things, we recommend you wake up (relatively) early on Sunday and head down to the beautiful Mercado Colón (location), where you’ll be able to enjoy a series of free classical music concerts. The concerts start at noon; if you want a seat with a good view of the band, show up on time. But the music fills the entire hall, so it’s not necessary to sit close to the orchestra to be able to enjoy it.

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Here’s the schedule for the rest of 2008, with the participating bands — please note that the concerts happen most but not every Sunday. Again, they all start at noon.

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5 October – U.M. Sta. Cecilia Castellar-Oliveral
12 October – Sociedad Musical Barrio de Malilla
19 October – Agrup. Musical Carrera Fte. San Luis
26 October – SDAD, Instructiva Musical El Palmar
9 November – Centro Instructivo Musical Tendetes
16 November – A. Cult. Falla Gral. Barroso – P. Abad
23 November – Centre de Música I Dansa de Natzaret
30 November – Sdad. Musical Unió de Tres Forques
7 December – Agrupación Musical San Isidro
14 December – Banda de Música Campanar

September 29, 2008 at 3:42 pm Comments (0)

Gandía Blasco – Design at the Puente del Mar

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As part of the week-long Habitat Festival in Valencia, design studio Gandía Blasco has installed a selection of their simple, futuristic furniture around the pond underneath the Puente del Mar (location).

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Although it looks as though it’s set up to be an after-hours lounge, it’s apparently just meant to be a showroom for Gandía Blasco‘s creations. Opportunity missed, I’d say, though I can sympathize that they might not want their expensive furniture ruined by some drunk British girl’s vomit.

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Still, it’s worth walking by at night, when everything is wonderfully illuminated. The furniture truly is beautiful… Hurry, though, the exhibit is only running through tomorrow, Sept. 26th. Their website is nice to look at too, by the way, though the contact form is broken. Grrr… I hate über-designed websites that are heavy on flash & can’t do the simple things all websites should do. Maybe that’s just me.

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September 25, 2008 at 6:17 pm Comments (0)

Day of the Valencian Community

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Mark your calendars — on October 9th, the next major festival hits Valencia, the Day of the Valencian Community (Día de la Comunidad Valenciana).

Of course, we’ll be blogging more pictures and information as it happens, but here is a quick rundown of what you can expect:

International Festival of Fireworks
Preceding the official events of the 9th, the city invites pyrotechnic artists from all over the world to put on a massive fireworks display in the riverbed of the Turia on the evening of October 8th.

Rey Jaume I in the Parterre

On October 9th, 1238, King James I of Aragon entered Valencia and liberated it from 500 years of Moorish rule. He created an autonomous country, the Kingdom of Valencia, and has become the city’s most cherished historical figure. The Day of the Valencian Community, October 9th, is one of the region’s most important holidays.

La Senyera
The 9th is the day of official festivities, beginning with the lowering of La Senyera from the Ayuntamiento. La Senyera is the official flag of the Valencian Community, and is lowered from its usual place on the city hall to street level, instead of being brought through the doors, because — according to royal proclamation — the flag may bow to no one.

The Procession
After the flag is lowered, the official procession begins, first up to the Cathedral and then down Calle La Paz before eventually arriving at Parterre park. There, an offering of flowers is made to the large statue of King James, and the flag is brought back to the Ayuntamiento, where there is a…

Don’t act as though you’re surprised.

The rest of the day is filled with traditional music and dancing in the Plaza de la Virgen, as well as a procession of Moors & Christians throughout the old city.

St. Dionisios
October 9th also happens to be the day of St. Dionisios, who Valencians revere as the saint of love. So, young Valencians in love traditionally present the object of their affection with a Mocaorà, which is a handkerchief filled with sweets.

There might well be other events worth seeing as part of the celebrations. This is our first time, so if there is something else worth watching out for, any information we’ve gotten incorrect, or an interesting piece of trivia we’ve neglected, please leave a comment!

September 24, 2008 at 3:08 pm Comments (6)

Sagunto: City of Ruins

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Sagunto is one of the most popular day trips from Valencia, and with good reason. It’s extremely easy to reach: just an inexpensive 30 minute trip on the Renfe Cercanias train system that binds the Valencian Community. And most importantly, the city is fascinating, especially for fans of history.

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Sprawled across the side of a huge hill, Sagunto’s setting was well chosen by the area’s pre-Roman Iberian settlers, who were far more advanced, organized and powerful than their contemporaries in Valencia. Even after the Romans arrived, Sagunto remained the region’s most important city and received a Roman Circus and Theater, the latter of which is still in use today. (Read more about Valencia’s Roman origins.)

Jürgen & I took a noontime train to Sagunto on a Sunday in late August, forgetting that this is Spain and everything closes at 2pm. Finding ourselves with just over an hour to see the highlights, we bolted through Sagunto’s narrow alleys, throwing only cursory glances at the time-worn architecture and cobblestone streets.

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The hustle proved worth it… First, we arrived at the ancient Roman theater which has been renovated multiple times through the years and is still in use, most notably during August’s Sagunt a Escena festival.

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While the theater itself was impressive, we thought the renovation wasn’t well done. Especially around the stage, the polished cement took away from the setting’s ancient feeling. Still, while walking around the arched halls and checking out the view over the old city, it’s not hard to feel transported back to Roman times.

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The theater is high up the side of Sagunto’s hill, on top of which a gigantic castle looms over the city. This castle ruins extend for a kilometer along the top of the hill and provide a view that reaches for miles in all directions. It was a site chosen for defense and, while looking down on the land below you, it’s not difficult to imagine hordes of marauding barbarians falling before the castle walls. The ruins on the grounds are extremely impressive, with the highlight being the Plaza de las Armas. The castle was built and occupied in turn by Iberians, Romans and Moors, each contributing their own styles and expansions.

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Walking down from the castle, one comes across the Calvary — a beautiful religious park built in the 19th century for passion plays and the stations of the cross. We hurried through this area back into the Jewry of the old town. This is perhaps Sagunto’s most picturesque neighborhood and was inhabited by the city’s Jewish residents until they were forcefully expelled from Spain by the Catholic monarchy in 1492.

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Sagunto has a lot to offer, and we were kicking ourselves that we didn’t have enough time before the lunch break. So, we recommend that you plan to arrive by 10:30 or 11am.

More information about Sagunto from Wikipedia

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September 24, 2008 at 8:09 am Comments (8)

Islamic Treasures at Bancaja

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The Lourve has lent a large collection of ancient Islamic art and ceramics to the Bancaja Cultural Center (location) in Valencia, where it will be on display until the 28th of September.

The collection consists of rugs, jugs, doors, plates, artwork, jewelry and a lot of other pieces which were created by three major empires of Islamic civilization from the 16th to the 18th century: Isfahan, Delhi and Istambul. The pieces are often extremely beautiful (intricately detailed ceramic work), occasionally boring (rugs, and more rugs), and usually interesting (who knew the Mullahs owed so much culturally to China?)

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A corner of the exhibit

The exhibition is free, Bancaja’s Cultural Center is centrally located, and the collection is small enough to see in a half hour, so there’s no excuse not to go…

Location of Bancaja Cultural Center on our Valencia Map
More information about the collection (en español)

September 18, 2008 at 4:00 pm Comments (2)

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