Having walked around the new area of Valencia we took a whole day and visited the old city area with the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen anywhere, so many crammed into such a close area, everywhere you looked was another wow factor.
The Plaza del Ayuntamiento in particular was surrounded by works of art, most of the buildings a white, cream or pale in colour, many have towers, turrets, columns and arches. Black wrought ironwork on balconies and window grills contrast with the stone or plasterwork and massive doors are another feature of these buildings.
On our stroll around we found a few narrow side streets, an old record shop with 1,000s of LPs and lots of dust, a small street cafe with a very elegantly presented leg of ‘Jamon’, several heladarias selling all flavours of ice cream and countless coffee shops.
We found an old church with light terracotta bricks and detailed plasterwork features above the door, figures in alcoves and statues and balustrades, with its tall bell tower beside. Inside was a huge ornate carved wooden feature behind the altar and a pale creamy gold coloured circular dome with light streaming in making it glow.
The Silk Exchange is impressive from the outside, looking a bit like a castle with its high stone walls and a central courtyard, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. But much more interesti g on the inside, built during the 15th century it was the financial centre of La Lonja. The Main Hall with its amazing twisted columns was where Merchants worked out contracts. The honesty of the merchants is noted by the inscription in gold letters on a blue band near the ceiling and runs around the whole hall.
I loved the patterns within the building, stained glass reflecting on the walls, a tiled floor looking like cubes or steps, diamond glass window and the detailed guiding work on the Tribunal function room ceiling.
The daily Central Market is housed in another beautiful building featuring big pillars and archways in on all four sides, colourful tiling and more wrought ironwork features. Inside the roof was a series of geometric shapes in black and white with a beautiful circular painted dome having windows to allow the light in.
There were hundreds of stalls selling all manner of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs, cheeses, meat and fish, also wines and beers, breads and cakes, candies, nuts, tapas, snacks and coffees. We even found ‘Shropshire Blue’ cheese on sale and it has pride of place in the centre of the bottom photo! The sights, colours and smells of this fabulous market will stay with me for ages, such excellent produce and such variety.
We spent ages in there walking all the isles, ooing and aahing at so much wonderful and colourful food, gasping at some of the horrors of chickens feet, necks and heads left on, big fat grotesque tongues; they don’t waste anything, even the chicken carcasses all piled up to be sold alongside piles of bones. As we would be out walking all day and didn’t want to be carrying stuff around, sadly all we bought were 2 onions and a courgette, plus two crunchy rolls with the delicious jamon for lunch.
We couldn’t come to Valencia and not see the famous cathedral, consecrated in 1238, so glad we didn’t miss it as it is the spectacular one either of us has ever seen. Tucked in between buildings either side it, the octagonal tower with two rows of arched windows stood high above the grand door and rose window above. To the side were a series of arches looking a bit like an aqueduct!
Inside seemed quite stark and plain at first with three vaulted naves, the main central one being wider and lighter than the other two. The tower with the arched windows was much more amazing inside, the bottom row of windows being more elaborately designed than the top row, all in white stone it looked very striking topped off with another vaulted ceiling.
Behind the altar is the most elaborate chancel we have ever seen, the ceiling was so colourful, beautiful stained glass, so much gold and ancient religious paintings.
Around the back of the chancel is semi circular, wide walkway with many arched and vaulted side chapels and two enormous organs stand on either side, I would imagine the acoustics sound amazing.
It was quite cold and the light was beginning to go when we came out, time for some brisk walking to warm up. We found a square with a reclining figure in a fountain not far away and later a huge stone entrance gate to the city, sadly we were too late to go and walk around it, maybe next time!
On our walks around Valencia, a city of approximately 970,000 people, while we were in the Oceanogràfic at a display, we realised we were standing by Caroline and Jeff who we had last seen in Navajas, first having met them in Benicàssim! Then while looking around the old city and eventually needing a sit down before visiting the cathedral, we chose a cafe in the sunshine, as you do! The people on the table next to us said hello, we laughed because it was Joe and Sylvia from the Benicassim site, over 50 miles away, last seen helping me celebrate my birthday. How amazing is that, what a small world.