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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.

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

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)

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.

Location on our Valencia Map

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

Granada – La Cartuja

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After the city cathedral and royal chapel, the most important religious building in Granada is La Cartuja, on the grounds of the University.

la-cartuja

The name derives from monks of the Carthusian order. Very serious, very austere and, apparently, very given to be murdered in the most barbaric ways imaginable. If you are into Monk Torture… well, you should probably get some serious counselling, but before you do: indulge in one last fling at La Cartuja. Stabbed, shot, disemboweled… the complex is decked out in paintings of holy brothers being slain.

Besides the awesome Monk Death paintings, the Cartuja is worth visiting for its chapel and sacristy, constructed in the 18th century.

The Carthusians are some kooky mother fuckers. Even today, they live a life of seclusion and quiet prayer, as cut off from the outside world as possible. Their order in Granada is no longer active, but there’s one near Valencia — the Porta Coeli Charterhouse. If you’re interested, a recent movie about Carthusians won a lot of awards: Into Great Silence, by Philip Gröning.

More from Our Granada Trip

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Carthusia-granada

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cartuja-yard

Rental Car Valencia

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February 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm Comment (1)

The Glory of the Baroque: The Church of Saint Martin

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A Valencian foundation called The Light of the Images was created in 1999 with the mission of restoring and exhibiting aspects of Valencia’s rich cultural heritage. Their latest project is called The Glory of the Baroque — an exhibition which runs through three of the city’s oldest churches.

Baroque-tour-valencia

On Sunday, we went to the Church of Saint Martin, which had been under renovation for a very long time. The church dates from the 14th Century and its restoration is, indeed, glorious. White and gold dominate the interior; marvelous, bright golden designs cover the ceilings. The paintings, sculptures and walls have all been renovated or restored and the church almost feels as though it had just been built. Literally breathtaking: both Juergen and I gasped upon entering.

The church has been converted temporarily into a gallery, with centuries-old religious ornaments and curios on display alongside intricate garments. You can even ascend a terrace in the main chapel and look down on the church from above.

The Light of the Images is doing fantastic work, and you have plenty of time to enjoy it; the Glory of the Baroque runs through September, 2010. If you’ve walked around the city center recently, you’ll have noticed a baroque white path on the sidewalks. It leads to the different churches in the exhibition.

Yet another must-see in Valencia!

The Glory of the Baroque, Website
Location of the Church of San Martin

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Neat place to stay in Valencia

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January 12, 2010 at 11:07 am Comment (1)

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