About Valencia

From Gothic quarters to futuristic architecture, Valencia has it all. Valencia is a city in which the light and sea of the Mediterranean coexist in a striking manner as in a Sorolla painting. The third largest city in Spain, Valencia has an ample cultural offer together with a boiling nightlife and beautifull beaches. Valencia bursts with tradition, and loads of fiestas are organized for the enjoyment of the people thoughout the year, but the most important of all remains "Las Fallas". The spectacular City of Arts and Sciences with its extravagant
architecture is one of the must see places in Valencia. In recent years, important international sport events like the America's Cup and the Formula 1 Grand Prix on a street circuit at the city's port have put Valencia more than ever on the world map.

The Valencia Cathedral and The Holy Grail

Most of Valencia Cathedral was built between the XIIIth century and the XVth and that is why its style is mainly Gothic. However, its construction went on for centuries. As a consequence there is a mixture of artistic styles, ranging from the early Romanesque, the subtle Renaissance, the heavy Baroque and the more restrained Neoclassic. The three portals suit each style: the Baroque facade in Plaza de la Reina is the most known image, but you have to walk around the cathedral to fully appreciate it - every side of Valencia Cathedral is a different mood, from shady fortress-like West side, to the Gothic Portal of the Apostles on Plaza de la Virgen, to the cosy narrow street passageways on the East side. This mixture, - next to Valencia´s Cathedral most celebrated treasure, the Holy Grail - is the most important feature of Valencia Cathedral and is what makes it a jewel of universal architecture and unique between the sacred places.

Valencia Cathedral
Valencia Cathedral was built between 1252 and 1482 on the site of an earlier mosque and perhaps a Roman temple of Diana. It was originally dedicated to the Holy Saviour; El Cid dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin. King Jaime the Conqueror did likewise, leaving in the main chapel the image of the Blessed Virgin which he carried with him (now preserved in the sacristy). In 1262, Bishop Andrés de Albalat laid the cornerstone of the Gothic building. It had three naves, which reach only to the choir of the present building. Bishop Vidal de Blanes built the magnificent chapter hall, and Jaime de Aragón added the famous tower ("La Miguelete") in 1418.

The Valencia Cathedral
At the beginning of the 18th century, the German Conrad Rudolphus added the opulent Baroque façade of the main entrance of the valencian cathedral. A restoration in the same century rounded the pointed arches, covered the Gothic columns with Corinthian pillars, and redecorated the walls. Tragically, in the war of 1808, a magnificent silver reredos was carried away and melted into coins to meet the expenses of the campaign.

Valencia Cathedral
The exterior of Valencia Cathedral is mostly Gothic. The portal on the north transept, Puerta de los Apóstoles, is richly decorated with Gothic sculpture and a 14th-century rose window, while the entrance portal is lavishly Baroque.

Valencia Cathedral
The predominantly Gothic interior of the valencian cathedral contains numerous religious and artistic treasures. Among the notable sights are two Goya paintings in the San Francesco chapel, one of which depicts an exorcism and the tube-like 14th-century lantern over the crossing and it is said to be the first one to display Goya´s characteristic demon-like phantasmic creatures. There is also a mummified hand of San Vicente Martyr (patron saint of the Valencian Community) - the man who changed the course of history here. The soaring windows are glazed with thin sheets of alabaster that filter the strong sunlight.

Valencia Cathedral
The octagonal tower, La Miguelete (or Micalet), is the landmark of Valencia, available in all souvenir and postcard shops and it has 207 steps that can be climbed for spectacular views over the valencian cathedral and the old town with the El Carmen neighborhood, which is dotted with blue-domed churches. The tower is named for its consecration on St. Michael's Day in 1418.

Valencia Cathedral
The cathedral's museum contains a good collection of paintings and a 2300kg monstrance made of gold, silver and jewels donated by Valencians. It is carried through the streets on festival days.

Valencia Cathedral
The most celebrated treasure in Valencia Cathedral is a chalice known as the Santo Caliz, which is said to be the famous Holy Grail. Whether or not this is so, it is certainly an intriguing artifact. It is of ancient date and was hidden in a monastery in northern Aragon throughout the Dark Ages, where it inspired many Grail legends. It has been enshrined in the cathedral since 1437, and can be seen in a dark, simple stone chapel in the corner of the cathedral.

Valencia Cathedral
The Santo Caliz is made of two parts: an ancient stone cup attached to a medieval stem and base. Fashioned out of dark brown agate, the main cup is 6.5 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide. Experts have dated it to the 1st century BC with a provenance of Antioch or Alexandria. The medieval stem and handles are made of gold; the alabaster base is decorated with pearls and precious stones.

Valencia Cathedral
The curator of the Santo Caliz has asserted the relic's authenticity as the very cup used by Christ at the Last Supper, but the Vatican has not officially agreed. Although both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVII used the revered chalice for Mass during their visits to Valencia, the head of the Vatican Museums' department of Early Christian Art, Umberto Utro, has stated that it cannot be the cup used by Christ - primarily because it is much too fancy for a poor man and there was no tradition of saving relics in Judaism.

In 1931 the valencian cathedral was declared a historic and artistic landmark by the Spanish government, but during the Spanish Civil War it was burned, which meant that it lost part of its decorative elements. The chorus, located in the central part, was dismantled in 1940 and moved to the bottom of the high altar. The organs, which had suffered major damage during the war, were never rebuilt.

Valencia Cathedral
Also in 1970, the Houses of Canons, a building attached to the chapels facing Micalet street, was demolished to give the valencian cathedral back its previous appearance, and at the same time elements of little or no architectural value were removed.

The task of removing the neoclassical elements in order to recover the original gothic aspect of the valencian cathedral was undertaken in 1972. The only neoclassical elements spared were most of the ambulatory chapels, and some isolated elements, such as the sculptures at the base of the dome.


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