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Corpus Christi 2010

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Corpus Christi Valencia

The festivities for Corpus Christi, one of Valencia’s most important holidays, get underway tomorrow and run through the weekend. Huge statues, creepy white-robed ladies, elaborately decorated balconies and unfairly burdened ponies are just some of the things you can expect. Here’s a quick rundown of the main events:

Saturday, June 5th
all day – The Rocas, centuries-old wooden structures which illuminate the “mysteries” of the Catholic faith will be on display all day.
19:00 – Performance of “The Mysteries” in the Plaza de la Virgen. If memory serves, it’s mainly for and by children.
23:00 – Concert by the Valencian Municipal Band in the Plaza de la Virgen. They’re always worth catching, especially if it’s a pleasant summer evening.
00:00 – Festive parade during which the best-decorated balconies are awarded prizes.

Sunday, June 6th
9:00 – Bell concert from the Miguelete, the bell tower of the city cathedral. You say “concert”, I say “maddening cacophony”.
12:00Cabalgata del Convite. Really, if you see just one parade this year in Valencia, make it this one. With crazy costumes, including La Moma, fun dancing and lively music, this is the most fun parade I’ve ever seen. Stand along Calle Avellanas, to see Herod’s henchmen get drenched with water from the balconies… just don’t stand too close if you want to stay dry.
16:30 – The 2nd of the day’s parades is the Paseo de las Rocas, when tiny horses carry the enormous Rocas through the city streets. As the parade comes around the Palacio Arzobispal, bets are made on whether the smallest horse in each convoy can drag its Roca up the slight hill. It’s exciting and cruel.
17:30 – Dance of the giants in the Pl. Virgen. Huge figures and groups of costumed people dance around the plaza. Last year, we met two wild-eyed Catholic German girls here, who tried to convert us to their faith.
19:00 – Solemn Procession of the Corpus. Alright kids, the fun is over, and this dreary parade lives up to its name. Women in black and men in suits walk solemnly down the street, on their way to the cathedral.

It’s a lot; a lot of parades, music, dancing, events. I’m exhausted just typing it out. The best thing to do is probably just plan to spend your weekend around the Plaza de la Virgen, which is where most of the action takes place.

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June 3, 2010 at 8:09 am Comments (0)

III Festival de Mediterrani

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It’s all about the ladies at the third annual Festival de Mediterrani, at the Palau de las Arts Reina Sofia. With the slogan “ELLA”, the operas featured during the month-long event were chosen for their focus on strong female characters. Richard Strauss’s Salome, based on the play by Oscar Wilde features the infamous Dance of Seven Veils and its shocking finale. And Georges Bizet’s capricious Sevillian gypsy Carmen takes the stage, as well.

We’re not really into opera much ourselves, but the festival, which runs from May 30th – June 30th, incorporates much more. Concerts, chamber music, recitals, conferences, and a number of films screened free for the public, including Gilda and The Barefoot Contessa — all in keeping with the theme of ELLA, of course.

And here’s a tip you won’t see publicized very often: at least for the festival, the Palau offers a 50% Last Minute Discount on tickets purchased 2 hours before each performance. This obviously won’t work for any sold-out performance, but could provide a great way to see an opera you don’t necessarily want to shell out the big bucks for.

More information can be found at the Palau’s official website.

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May 28, 2010 at 8:54 am Comments (0)

The Glory of the Baroque: San Juan de la Cruz

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A couple weeks ago, we visited the Iglesia de San Martín and were introduced the Glory of the Baroque — Valencia’s incredible effort to restore a number of central churches to their former glory. This past weekend, we had a chance to see a 2nd church given the treatment: San Juan de la Cruz, on C/ Poeta Querol 6.

golden-Maria

It’s hard to imagine, but the newly restored interior of this church — closed for renovation for the last 50 years — is even more remarkable than San Martín. Again, gold and white are the dominant colors. The church’s interior is absolutely resplendent and truly captures the glory of the days of the kingdom.

La Iglesia de San Juan de la Cruz was one of the first Christian churches constructed after James I’s conquest of Valencia. As was often the case, it was built on top of a former mosque. The current form of the church dates from the early 17th century.

The Glory of the Baroque runs until September of this year, and if you’re in Valencia, it’s an absolute must-see.

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May 27, 2010 at 6:30 pm Comment (1)

The Tanagras Collection at Bancaja

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One of the world’s most important collections of terracotta figures is currently on display in Valencia’s Bancaja Cultural Center (location).


The Titeux Dancer, c. 375-350 BC

The Tanagras figures take their name from the region of Greece in which they were discovered, in the 1870s. The figures date from the 4th to 1st century BC, and are realistic depictions of the people of the age, right down to their dress.

The collection is normally held in the Louvre, but is on tour in Valencia until July 7th. It’s their first appearance ever in Spain, and more than 200 newly restored pieces are on display for free. A full descripton of the figures and their discovery (in Spanish) can be found at Bancaja.es.

April 14, 2010 at 6:47 am Comments (0)

Semana Santa 2010

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I hope you’re recovered from Fallas, because the next big celebration is already here. Get ready for the excitement of Semana Santa in Valencia! Sigh. Well, if we must.

As though to give the city center a break from fiestas, the main Easter week activities take place in the port-side neighborhood Cabanyal. For that reason, it’s known here as Semana Santa Marinera. Starting tonight at 8pm, and every day up until Easter Monday, there are processions and acts. It’s pointless to try and list them all — there are a lot. Check out the full line-up here.

semena-santa-marinera

But the three main processions are as follows:
Thursday, April 1st, 20:00 – Act of the Prophecy
Heralding the beginning of the festivities, the various hooded brotherhoods visit 4 churches, accompanied by bands, in this fast moving, happy & colorful parade.

Friday, April 2nd, 18:30 – General Procession of the Holy Burial
This long parade honors the martyrdom and death of Jesus; the brotherhoods act out biblical scenes from the passion, death of resurrection of JC. Don’t expect a lot of smiling, but this is an impressive parade all the same.

Sunday, April 4th, 13:00 – Parade of the Resurrection
This is the happiest parade, and why not? Jesus has risen, and we’re pretty sure he’s not a zombie! The brotherhoods will have their hoods off in honor of the miracle, and be marching along proudly to happy music. If you’re lucky, you might catch a flower.

Another highlight of Semana Santa is the beautiful beach procession at Malvarossa, on the morning of Good Friday. We went last year, so you can check out more information here.

We’re a little worn out this year from Fallas, and a recent trip to Segovia and Madrid. Don’t forget that both Friday and Monday are holidays, so get your shopping done now!

The Bells and more views from the Micalet


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April 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm Comments (0)

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