dimanche, novembre 01, 2009

A Few Monuments in Valencia, Spain

Mercado Central, Valencia

Moving around with 3 children is never easy and many wondered why I was mad enough to do so in another country. But if I don't travel with them I will never get to travel - unless I wait till I'm 60 and maybe too arthritic to move around. Besides, it is a pleasure to share with my children a few of the things that make me enjoy travelling e.g. different sights, smells, sounds...And funny enough, it was easier to make them take their bath and do homework when we were stuck in a hotel room with no other distractions.

S. Catalina

And Valencia is an easy city to move around without husband or car. If you can't walk, take a bus or ride in the metro to reach your destination, take a taxi. I've done so in the past and they were reasonably-priced for Europe. If you're very fit, you could try cycling in Valencia as the Turia riverbed goes from west to east covering almost all of the city.

Mercado Central and surroundings

We walked to the Mercado Central - a modernist masterpiece designed in 1914 and open Monday to Saturday from 7:30 to 14:30. Inside it is bright and airy and has stalls selling fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cured meats and chorizos etc etc. Beautiful. The other 2 markets I love in Valencia are the Plaza Redonda selling mainly textiles and ceramics and the Mercado de Colon - another piece of beautiful modernist architecture that was recently restored.

Lonja de la Seda

Opposite the Mercado Central you have a Unesco World Heritage monument known as Lonja de la Seda or The Silk Market. A civil Gothic masterpiece whose construction started in 1483, it contains four main parts, each one for a different use: the main Tower, the Consulado del Mar room, the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange tree courtyard), and the Contracts Room (with many spiral columns).

Iglesia de los Santos Juanes

Next to the Mercado Central, you have the Iglesia de los Santos Juanes, one of the oldest in Valencia. From there we walked to the Plaza de la Virgen - once the forum of Roman Valencia. There you have a few impressive buildings one of which is La Catedral. Each of the three gates of the Cathedral has a diferent style: Iron Gate (Baroque), the Apostles Gate (Gothic) and the Palace Gate (Romanesque). From the bell tower El Miguelete you can enjoy some amazing views.

La Catedral

I marched the children further and we arrived at the Torres de Serranos : the largest Gothic city gateway in Europe, constructed at the end of the 14th century as part of the city's fortifications. They provisionally housed prison cells and served as a triumphal arch on many festive and solemn occasions. There we settled on one of the banks of the Turia river and ate our lunch, admiring the buildings on the opposite bank.

Torres de Serranos

Then we walked to one of my favourite "monuments" El Corte Ingles, the ubiquitous Spanish department store where I would go everyday when I was there : Jamon de Bellota at 100 euros a kg, English Cheddar cheese, pastries and cakes, perfumes, shoes, bags, clothes etc etc.

Plaza de Toros

Near the RENFE station (itself quite a beauty) there is the Plaza de Toros - always one in every city in Spain. If you're not a fan of the corrida (bull fight), you can still catch concerts, circuses and exhibitions in the ring. They will be having their first Feria Gastronomica in 2 weeks - pity I couldn't be there.

Convento Santo Domingo

Puerta del Mar

Those kids, they complained but they walked. Of course I had to dangle a few carrots before them now and then, threaten them with a few horrors or remind them that they may never see me again if they simply didn't catch up with their mother. One day we will walk the Turia Garden from West to East. One day.

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