October 9th, the Day of the Valencian Community, is coming up in a couple days, so it seems like a good time to introduce Lo Rat Penat — custodians of Valencian language and culture.
Founded in 1878 by Constanti Llombart, Lo Rat Penat (which means, I believe, “flying rat” and refers to the city’s symbol) has a long history of promoting “Lo Valenciano”. In the past few decades, a large portion of their mission has been aimed at distinguishing Valencian from the very similar Catalán language. They offer courses in Valencian, and have a number of Valencian-language downloads on their website. They also sponsor and take part in many of the cultural activities during the year, with a strong presence during Fallas and the Day of the Valencian Community.
Lo Rat Penat has its seat in the palace of Los Barones de Alacuás on C/ Trinquete de Caballeros in the historic central neighborhood of La Xerea. The building is unmistakable, with a huge bat on the corner. I’ve walked by a hundred times, and always assumed that it must be a museum of some sort, due to the giant murals visible from the street.
It’s not. And they don’t let you walk around the premises. In fact, the guy at the desk was kind of baffled that I wanted to come in at all. But hey, you adorn your building with a giant bat, you’re going to pique the curiosity of passers-by!
Anyway, it sounds like the society does a lot of great things for the culture, and if you want to learn more about the language, this is a good first stop.