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Hola Valencia’s Top Five: Churches

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Although sometimes it’s easy to forget, what with its liberal, anything-goes attitude to life, Spain is one of the most deeply Catholic countries on Earth. Valencia has an enormous number of churches, many of which have centuries of history. We’ve visited a lot of them, and have chosen the five which impressed us the most… in no particular order:

Colegio del Patriarca

The Patriarca was San Juan de Ribera, the influential priest who founded this church and seminary in the 16th century. The building hosts an excellent little museum, as well as a courtyard and a church. But the most curious thing is the crocodile, mounted on a wall over the holy water.

The Dragon of the Patriarch

Church of San Martín

Just meters away from the Plaza de la Reina, the Church of San Martín has centuries of history, and was recently renovated by the Light of the Images — a foundation dedicated to the restoration of ancient buildings and works of art. They did a beautiful job.

The Glory of the Baroque: The Church of Saint Martin

The Cathedral of Valencia

The epicenter of Valencian religious life, the Cathedral was a given on this list. The magnificent facade, the jaw-dropping interiors, the Micalet — and of course, the Holy Grail — all make the Catedral an absolute must for any trip to Valencia.

The Bells of the Micalet

Iglesia de San Esteban

Blue and gray are the dominant colors in this beautifully restored church in the quiet neighborhood of La Seu. The church was built over a mosque in 1472, and is one of the prime examples of the Baroque styles in Valencia.

More Information from the Light of the Images

Iglesia de San Juan del Hospital

Built around 1260, this is considered the first church in Valencia after the Christian conquest, and is the only medieval church to survive the years. With a small austere interior accessible through beautiful gardens, this is one of the city’s most impressive and somber places of worship.

Hotels in Asturias

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September 25, 2010 at 4:36 am Comments (2)

New Ribalta Painting Discovered in Valencia

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This must be the kind of discovery that anyone who gets into the field of restoration hopes to one day make.

A dusty, dirty old painting in storage at the Church of San Andrés was cleaned up and restored by The Light of the Images, the same group responsible for the marvelous renovations of the Glory of the Baroque. Underneath the grime and neglect, workers realized that they were holding a painting by the 16th century Valencian master Francisco Ribalta.

A crucifix scene now christened “El Calavario”, the painting depicts Christ on the cross with a kneeling Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary and a few others surrounding him. The painting has been dated to 1620, eight years before the artist’s death, when he was already respected and firmly entrenched in Valencia. Ribalta was of the Baroque era, and one of the first Spanish practitioners of Carvaggio’s tenebrist style.

You can see his newly discovered painting in the church of San Juan de la Cruz, as a part of the Glory of the Baroque exhibition.

Great Car Rental Prices fro Valencia

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July 17, 2010 at 8:35 am Comments (0)

The Jail of San Vicente Mártir

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After leaving the Baños del Almirante somewhat disappointed, we decided to try our luck at the nearby Carcel de San Vicente Mártir, in the Plaza de la Almoina. And we found it a lot more interesting.

The building is near the cathedral, in one of the historical focal points of the city. Remains of civilizations stretching back to the Romans can be seen in this area, and the crypt contains an intact Visigoth chapel from the 6th Century. This basement is supposedly where San Vicente was held captive prior to being martyred in 304 AD. Although, when I pointed out to the guide that there’s another spot in Valencia that claims to be his jail, he readily admitted that no one really knows “for sure” where the jail was… but it certainly could have been here.

The basement ruins are interesting enough, but the best part of the experience is a very cool audio-visual guide that leads you through Valencia’s early history, from the Visigoths to the Moors, to the arrival of Christianity. It’s available in English and provides a fascinating glimpse into the city’s early days.

We loved this exhibit, and were shocked to be the only visitors at 18:30 on a Saturday evening in May. The entrance is free and well worth your time. You can probably get lucky with an English tour, like we did, but you might want to call ahead to make sure.

Archaeological Crypt of San Vicente Martír
+34 96 394 14 17
Location on our Valencia Map

Vicente Mártir Procession

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July 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm Comments (0)

Los Baños del Almirante

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Right off Calle Palau, within 2 minutes of the Cathedral, lay the Baths of the Admiral — a bathhouse originally constructed in 1313.

Unlike the baths we visited while in Granada, these are of Christian origin, though with their arched doorways and star-shaped skylights, clearly owe a lot to Moorish aesthetic.

We’d been meaning to visit for more than a year, and finally did a couple weeks ago. Our visit began with a short video demonstrating how a 14th century lady might have bathed herself. Afterwards, we took a short guided tour of the building. The baños consist of three rooms — cold, warm and hot. Unlike the Arab baths, guests would only sponge themselves and sit in steam, and not fully emerge in water.

The architecture and history are neat, but this isn’t exactly Valencia’s most interesting cultural offering. The Baños have been fully restored, but have lost any sense of their antiquity. The introductory video was a little cheesy, bordering on distasteful, and our guide was unenthusiastic, bordering on comatose. But again it was all for free, so it’s difficult not to recommend a visit.

The doors open every half hour for the visit. Just wait outside until invited in.
Tue-Sat: 9:30 – 14:00 and 17:30 – 20:00
Sun & Holidays: 9:30 – 14:00
605.275.784
Location on our Valencia Map

Bragains from Spain

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June 29, 2010 at 9:38 am Comments (2)

Paseo de las Rocas 2010

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Crazy weather tried, but wasn’t able to totally dampen the Corpus Christi festivities this year, and we made sure to show up for at the Palacio Arzobispal for the Paseo de las Rocas.

Close your eyes, and imagine a magical land called Pony Paradise, where diminutive horses are fed sugared hay on cotton candy sticks, and get deep horse-muscle massages from enslaved jockey midgets.

Corpus Christi 2010

Now open your eyes again, because the Paseo de las Rocas is the exact opposite of Pony Paradise. It is HORSEY HELL. At the Palacio Arzobispal, the smallest horses are selected to drag the mammoth Rocas up the hill. Fat, sadistic Valencians “encourage” them with vicious stick beatings, laughing as the ponies bray and buckle under the weight, sometimes collapsing onto their knees.

Naturally, it’s one of my favorite events! I always make sure to show up early, to jeer at the stupid ponies and take pictures of their hilarious suffering. Hey now don’t look at me that way, my family was slaughtered by a wild band of crazy horses. They are my enemies.

Valencia Guards
Corpus 2010
Rocas Valencia
Paseo Rocas
Giant Corpus Christi
Corpus Giants
Waiting for NIE
Apple Dance
Moma 2010

Hotels for Corpus Christi

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June 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm Comments (4)

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