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Museo Taurino – Bullfighting Museum

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Museo-Taurino-Valencia

Tucked into the passageway of Dr. Serra on the eastern side of the Plaza de Toros, you might happen across the little Museo Taurino (location). Even if you just have 15 minutes to spare, it’s worth ducking inside.

Museo-Taurino

15 minutes because the museum is tiny, worth it because it’s free.

We went earlier this week with my dad, who had been disappointed that there were no bullfights in the city during his two-week stint. So instead, we contented him with the museum.

The permanent museum exhibition is little more than a single hall, with portraits, costumes and information about the history of bullfighting in Valencia. From the 1800’s to the present day, you can learn about the acts of a bullfight, the costumes of the toreros and the personal histories of many famous toreros. I had no idea so many died by goring.

All of the information is presented in English, as well as Valencian and Castellano. It makes an adequate, free consolation prize for any vacationers who’d been hoping to see a bullfight in person. If you go, make sure to do so on a day without rain, and you’ll be able to walk around the Plaza de Toros as well. We were denied this pleasure by weekend rain.

Museo Taurino: Surprisingly Impressive Website
Location on our Valencia Map


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April 28, 2009 at 2:25 pm Comments (4)

Prince Felipe Science Museum – Our Visit

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science museum valencia-1

One of the largest buildings in Valencia’s insane City of Arts & Sciences is the Prince Felipe Science Museum (location). Like many science museums, this is designed for kids, offering a lot of hands-on activities.

Too bad it sucks.

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Our visit to the science museum was one of the more disappointing experiences we’ve had since moving here. Generally, both Juergen and I are big fans of such museums, but the Prince Felipe just utterly failed to impress us.

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The main problem was that roughly half of the “hands-on” exhibits didn’t work. Simply broken. Have they absolutely no maintenance budget? It was pathetic. Machines were turned off, “under repair” stickers everywhere. One crazy device, which I think was just trying to weigh me, crashed as soon as I stepped up to it, Windows 95 operating system flickering into blackness.

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The exhibits were old-school, stuff you’ve seen a million times before, presented in a cold and uninteresting manner. Juergen looked at how marijuana affects your brain: Flashing lights, spooky images, psychedelic music and misinformation which could have come straight out of brochures from 1983. I stepped onto a “futuristic” board which could roughly sense the direction in which I was leaning. Hey science museum: buy yourself a Wii Fit; seriously, it’s light years more advanced. My bathroom contains devices more interesting than anything this museum had to offer.

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The highlight of the museum is Calatrava’s architecture, even more stunning when seen from the inside than the outside.

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We also got to see a temporary Marvel Superheroes exhibit, which tried its damnedest to connect the world of comics to science, but was as uninspired & busted as the rest of the museum. “Can you beat Iceman? TOUCH THE ICE!!” Oh wow, it’s cold. That was really it — just touching the ice.

So, unless your kids are really young or particularly easy to impress, we would recommend staying away from this museum. There are plenty of other things for kids to do in the city — such as Gulliver’s park, which is free.

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My mother and I morph into one horrifying creature
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Prince Felipe Science Museum: Official Site
Location on our Valencia Map


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April 27, 2009 at 8:36 am Comments (5)

Modern India at the IVAM

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We managed to catch an excellent exhibit called Modern India on its last day at the IVAM (location). Visitors were taken a tour of India’s history, from colonialism to the present day, through the eyes of its artists. A large, comprehensive exhibit, filled with oil paintings, sculptures, photography, and audio-visual displays, Modern India provided an excellent couple hours of escapism.

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We apologize for not having posted about this earlier! If you didn’t get to see it, hopefully the pictures in this post provide an acceptable substitute.

The exhibit was split into 6 periods, organized by time. The first two detail the colonial period, when the British ruled, then slowly lost their grip on the subcontinent. Things got psychedelic, as we moved into the 20th Century, and the West’s popular culture discovers India. Finally, visitors were brought into the present day as a new generation of Indians come to grip with their country’s ever-more important place on the global stage.

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Our favorite pieces were the sculptures, particularly one depicting a giant city sprawling over and on top of itself — a spectacular representation of the claustrophobia one must feel in Mumbai.

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A lot more pictures available at the Official Website of the Exhibit (IE Only!)
IVAM: Location on our Valencia Map

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February 16, 2009 at 5:21 pm Comment (1)

Visiting the Diocesan Cathedral Museum

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Tucked inside the massive Cathedral of Valencia, you can find the Diocesan Cathedral Museum — a set of exhibition rooms filled with art and artifacts not used for worship.

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The most difficult part of visiting the museum is finding it. Following the cryptic instructions of the information lady, I felt almost transported into The DaVinci Code. “The golden sun … can be found… through a door in the chapel of St. Frances Borgia … look for it under the Goya, but not that of the demons … and hurry, my love: They’re after you“.

Once you find the museum (and elude the murderous monk on your tail), the first thing you’ll see is a huge golden sun. This is the largest monstrance (vessel for the Eucharistic host) in the world. Impressive.

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The rest of the museum is small but filled with interesting works, including the original sculptures from the Door of the Apostles, and paintings by Juan de Juanes. A curious exhibit features small sculptures from a scene depicting the circumcision of Christ.

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However the highlight of visiting the museum is not literally found inside of it — the huge paintings by Goya occupying the lateral walls of the Chapel of St. Francis Borgia. Particularly of interest is the painting on the right-hand wall, showing St. Francis attempting to convert an unrepentant man on his death bed. This is the first appearance of demons in Goya’s work.

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The museum can be visited in conjunction with the rest of the Cathedral — the entrance costs €4 and includes an audio guide (available in English). It’d be easy to visit the Cathedral and never know the museum exists, since it’s so hidden.

Diocesan Cathedral Museum – More Info from the Cathedral’s Official Website


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February 11, 2009 at 6:03 pm Comments (3)

Museum of Natural Science

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Megatherium

Valencia’s Museum of Natural Science (also referred to occasionally as the Paleontological Museum) is situated right in the middle of the Viveros Gardens (location).

The museum takes visitors through the history of life on Earth, with a special emphasis on South American paleontology and the Valencian ecosystem. If you’re a fan of fossils, Darwin or the natural sciences, this museum is an absolute must.

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The most spectacular area of the museum is a set of fossilized skeletons brought over from South America and donated by J. Rodrigo Botet. The largest and most interesting is that of a Megatherium – a giant sloth, as large as an elephant, that lived alongside humanity back in the good old days, 8000 years ago.

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A number of the exhibits might really only appeal to paleontological enthusiasts, but the museum is a great place for anyone to spend a rainy afternoon — it won’t take even the most fossil-obsessed more than a couple hours to visit (although, I’m afraid my father might get lost for weeks, engrossed by the various trilobites). Entrance costs €2, and is free on Sundays.

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Location on our Valencia Map

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February 4, 2009 at 7:17 pm Comment (1)