Traveling With Love #42 - Spain Never Ceases to Amaze Us
Hello! I was going to write about Bari, but I just wasn't so excited for that right now and decided to skip that one and move onto the next part of the trip - I'll come back to Bari eventually! This next part was Valencia - a city on the East coast of Spain in the region called "Communidad Valenciana".
For me personally, visiting Valencia was a big deal - first of all, when I was a child, I was extremely beguiled by the way Valencia CF, the football club from the city, played. Due to this, I was just so excited to see the place, visit the official store of the club, but also simply walk around the city, as I've had great experiences from my only stay in Spain before this - Sevilla. I was also excited to see the Valenciano langauge from up close, as I am quite interested in linguistics.
Note that I have a ton of content from Valencia and this story will be split into 2 or maybe even 3 posts - this one will focus on the architecture, the second will be more about the other parts of the city and finally: in the last one, I will tell you about a very expensive and extremely beautiful complex that finds itself in the city - The City of Arts and Sciences.
Llotja de la Seda
Llotja de la Seda, or the Silk Market, is a building that dates back all the way to the end of the medieval times and is simply very impressive. Whether you are looking at it from the inside or the outside, you can really imagine all the trade happening in there. This was the building that we spent the most time inside and around during the Free Walking Tour, because not only is it stunning, it also has a huge history as one of the most important buildings not only in Valencia, but also the whole Spain.
Before I move onto the pictures, I also want to mention that Llotja de la Seda is so important culturally and architecturally that it has been added onto the UNESCO World Heritage list. Sadly, we messed up and did not take good pictures of the Llotja de la Seda from the outside (it is also difficult to take pictures in Valencia, as the buildings are just really close to each other!).
The main room of the Silk Market is where all the big trade took place. There is a "Central Market" quite closeby and that is where the p2p trades happened. Here, it was the big deal! All the large-volume trade happened here and the rich merchants came to this place to do business. What is interesting is the way the inside is built. On the pictures, you can see the pillars, which are meant to imitate palms. If you just imagine the colours, it looks like palms that turn into a beautiful sky which is the ceiling. This whole thing was supposedly to make it so that the merchants follow the basic rules of fair trade - and if they do, they will be in paradise; economically.
There are multiple other rooms in the complex, where you can watch videos explaining the story of the market, which in many ways is intertwined with that of Valencia itself. The architecture is slightly different in some of them, but one thing is for sure - wherever you go, you will be stunned.
Finally, the inner courtyard has this tropical garden with orange trees, giving you a place to relax and hide in the shadows - being a rich merchant in the times when Llotja de la Seda was at its peak must've been a dream come true.
St Mary's Cathedral
Moving on to the next big landmark - the Valencia's St Mary Cathedral! This one was even more difficult to take photos of, so here's just a dump of those. There are three different gates to this church, made in three different styles - this is due to the fact that the cathedral has changed hands between different religions throughout the centuries that it has existed.
Throughout history, the church has been often changed or extended multiple times, but the most curious part about its outside appearance are some bridges connecting it to other buildings around it.
The story of the bridges seems to be that during the plague, the priests considered themselves more important than the regular plebs - thus they made these bridges to be able to safely travel between buildings without being exposed to the plague.
What is much more exciting though is that the Valencia cathedral is supposedly housing the single most important relic in the history of the world - the Holy Grail! Of course there are many places that claim to have it, but Valencia's claim seems to be fairly strong - and I mean in the end, being one of the maybe 20 places that could potentially have such a relic; pretty impressive to me!
Torres de Serrano
Final part of this post is going to be about one of the best viewpoints in the city - Torres de Serrano. Apaprently, the name comes from the fact that this was the gate through which the people from the mountains were coming into Valencia - and those people were called Serrano (which translates to highlander).
If they look extremely well-kept to you, even too well to be true.. well, you're correct, this is not completely authentic, as these towers have been renovated to make sure that they are in the state they are in currently. There are more authentic towers in another part of the city centre, but this one has a better view!
This is what you get to see after you climb the tower. It is not much of a climb, as there is just maybe a hundred or so stairs - that said, they are pretty tall stairs and it can be a little slippery, so if you do go; watch out not to slip! With the heat, you can sweat a bit (as we definitely did), but it is worth it - the view is great and you can do see pretty much the whole of Valencia!
Here's us on the top! Just to prove we did actually make it up the tower!
Valencia did not disappoint me at all - I loved the place and you'll see even more of it in the next two posts. We only managed to spend 2 days in there, because we went to Peniscola afterwards, but we really want to come back. Spain has been our favourite coutnry to visit, so that's definitely one to revisit eventually!