Valencia is divided 20 zones. We have mostly been exploring the Ciuta Vella, ‘Old City’ in Valenciano, a smallish area crammed with attractive and narrow streets.
Valencia was founded by the Romans in 187 BCE. There is an excellent exhibit of ruins near what was the Forum. One of the things the exhibitors did was to paint extensions of the roadways at the end of the roadbeds that remain. They show the buildings along these roads, which were the main thorough fares- one of them still is. This gives you a good sense of how the current layout relates to the original.
Valencia was destroyed during a civil war in the 2nd century CE, later rebuilt, destroyed again in the Moorish era by the Christians, and rebuilt yet again. There is a good short write up at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valencia,_Spain.
The current layout is predominantly medieval, from which the chaotic, maze-like arrangements derive. Of course this arrangement makes it difficult to navigate but more more mysterious, with a surprise around every corner for the newly arrived visitor.
Near our place is the Plaza de la Virgen. This large plaza houses the Catedral (13th-15th century), whose main entrance is on the Plaza de la Reina (Queen), but you can enter here and not pay. The main entrance requires an entrance fee to see things you can not see otherwise. It is a magnificent structure which might be on the site of the Roman temple to Diana. Prior to the 13th century it was the site of a mosque.
From our house it is about a 10 minute walk to the Mercado Central, a wonderful place to shop. This is deserving of further discourse but more of that anon. To get there you go south but of course you run into buildings if you don’t stick to the streets, so you have to wind your way there. It is easy to miss the market- you get there faster than you think which means you are farther south than you want to be.
Shops, bars and restaurants line many of the streets, housing, with who knows what else sprinkled in. Some small back streets are more exclusively residential. Many of the buildings are 18th – early 20th century, some handsomely restored, others awaiting the next boom. Here is a typical residential street:
I’ll continue this exploration of Valencia in coming posts.
February 17, 2010