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News Roundup – Franco, Gürtel, Cabanyal

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Today has been extremely eventful news day in the Valencian Community. Here’s a quick rundown of the stories which are front-page news around town.


Image Sources: The NYT | Levante | Las Provincias

Franco’s Final Farewell
A statue of Francisco Franco was removed from a captaincy in the city to a military warehouse in Bétera, providing a striking image which even made the New York Times’ Pictures of the Day (#7). The statue had already been hidden from public eye in 1983, but lived on in an interior patio of the captaincy as a cult object. It’s now in a warehouse, in a metal container, visible to nobody. I don’t understand why it hasn’t been destroyed. I’m sure there are people who’d volunteer for the task.

The Battle of Cabanyal
Yesterday, destruction began on 5 buildings in the seaside neighborhood of Cabanyal, in advance of the controversial prolongation of Avenue Blasco Ibáñez. Though the buildings weren’t among those protected by an emergency governmental declaration, the destruction set off major protests and led to the arrest of dozens of citizens and politicians. Violence was avoided but just barely, if the pictures are any indication! The battle lines are clear: neighbors and the central government vs. business interests and the city government. Tensions are extremely high, and I’m afraid this fight still has a long way to go.

Tightening the Belt
But the biggest news — not just in Valencia, but around Spain and the world — was the new developments in the Gürtel corruption case. The Times of London is now calling it “one of the country’s biggest political scandals since the return of democracy in 1978”. There’s really no room for rational doubt anymore, the corruption sinks deep into the power structure of the Partido Popular, and some of the accusations are stunning. Heads are going to roll, although the Valencian public doesn’t seem to care much about the corruption of its ruling party. With every new revelation, the PP seems to become even more popular.

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April 7, 2010 at 2:40 pm Comment (1)

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)

Historic Valencian Neighborhood to Be Destroyed?!

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It seems as though the city government has plans to extend a huge boulevard through the historic Valencian neighborhood of Gran Via. Over 400 buildings will be torn out of the ground and the area left unrecognizable.

Oh… wait a second. Gran Via is the home of Valencia’s wealthy elite, and the destruction of their neighborhood to improve transit would be absolutely unthinkable. I must have my facts wrong… let’s see…

cabanyal-valencia

Ah yes, here it is. It’s the historic neighborhood of Cabanyal which is to be gutted for the extension of Boulevard Blasco Ibáñez. The Ayuntamiento is planning to rip up hundreds of houses apartments (thanks ReinderVLC), in order to speed access to the sea. Yes, yes, all in the name of progress. Only poor people actually live in Cabanyal, so who cares?

Turns out a lot of people do. Cabanyal is one of Europe’s most unique and important seaside neighborhoods. The battle over its future has been going on for about a decade. Recently, further development has been blocked by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, which recognized Cabanyal as a site of cultural heritage.

As you can guess from the tone of my writing, I’m opposed to the extension of Blasco Ibáñez. In the past, it’s been suggested that I “keep my mouth shut” on political matters, since I’m a foreigner. But tough. Especially because I’m a visitor, I’m well aware that the historic district of Cabanyal is one of the city’s top highlights. The government doesn’t seem to recognize the treasure right under its nose. They should be restoring the neighborhood, not destroying it.

Events in and around Cabanyal: Semana SantaBeach ProcessionMascleta Napolitana

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January 13, 2010 at 11:16 am Comments (6)

Easter Sunday Procession in Cabanyal

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Bright, warm, sunny weather? IT’S AN EASTER SUNDAY MIRACLE!!

marching-band-valencia

Hooray! After Friday’s procession was canceled due to the inclement weather, it was wonderful to have a beautiful Easter Sunday. At 1 in the afternoon, the most colorful and upbeat of Valencia’s Semana Santa Marinera events got underway.

easter-valencia

A large crowd was on hand to watch and cheer over thirty brotherhoods, who had their hoods off and marched along to fun pasodobles while handing out flowers. Apparently the way to get a flower is to (a) scream “Guapa!” at the marcher of your choosing and (b) be a woman.

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hood-parade
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flower-offering

This was a very long parade, but everyone seemed content to have an excuse to stay outside and soak up the sun. Hope all our readers had a great Easter weekend!

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easter-jesus
jesus
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April 13, 2009 at 3:50 pm Comments (2)

Semana Santa Marinera 2009

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Easter Week is probably the most important event on the Catholic calendar. In Valencia, its celebrated almost exclusively in the maritime district… which is why it’s called the Semana Santa Marinera.

There are an enormous amount of events scheduled from April 2nd to April 12th, with a number of different brother and sisterhoods taking part. Most of these are processions in and around Cabanyal.

As a good ‘ole American farm boy, I was terrified last year to see groups of men in white, pointy hoods marching down the street. Of course, these guys have nothing to do with certain other organizations. Different brotherhoods wear different colored robes — the pink ones are especially cute. But what is the significance of the pointy hoods? Even without the KKKonnektion, they come off threatening.

The main parades take place on Thursday, Friday and Easter Sunday. Sunday’s will be the most colorful and probably of the most interest to non-participants. And on the morning of Good Friday, the brotherhoods take their act to the beach… one of the more impressive acts of the Semana Santa.

20 Minutos has a great slideshow from last year’s holy week. It’ll give you a good idea of what’s in store, should you feel the urge to go spectate.

The Official Site of the Semana Santa Marinera
Our Post on the Events in 2008

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April 3, 2009 at 3:28 pm Comments (0)