Breathing in the ambrosial scented orange blossoms that perfume the air in València, is intoxicating.
We have left the moniker of being “Cretans” behind us and have returned to being “Valèncianos” for the 3rd spring in a row. València is both a laid-back city and at the same lively and full of life and it entices us to return again and again. We arrived in Valencia for the first time in late February 2018 and found it to be quite cool, especially compared to Southern California. This year temperatures have stayed in the pleasant range of high 60’s to low 70’s (20-23 Celsius) throughout February and into March.
Ruzafa Cultura Viva Carnival
Arriving back in València in early February meant we were able join in on the celebration of this enormous carnival.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Ruzafa enjoying the music, color and festivities. Still going strong at 10:30 pm when we left, the parade lasted for hours with dozens of groups representing numerous countries fully decked out in magnificent colors and costumes dancing along to their upbeat national rhythms of choice.
The Ruzafa 2020 Carnival was an enjoyable multicultural event to witness and whet our appetite to travel to Brazil to attend Mardi gras sometime in our future.
Valentine’s Day Tractors
Coincidentally the farmers in Spain staged a protest on Valentine’s Day. It certainly was a surprise to find dozens of tractors slowly inching their way down one of València’s busiest streets heading towards the ajuntamiento or government center.
Loved the juxtaposition of seeing these country tractors against the cities multi-storied apartments and businesses.
Las Fallas 2020
The huge annual festival of Las Fallas 2020 was scheduled to run February 29 through March 19 and the monuments had to be finished and installed by March 15th. However, on March 10th government officials cancelled or at the very least postponed this 200+ year old Las Fallas extravaganza.
After the announcement of the cancellation of Las Fallas 2020, we were able to visit the partially built falla in the ajuntamiento. Due to the coronavirus covid-19 pandemic, someone had added this mask to her head.
The facemask image has unintentionally become a symbol of hope for Spain in the battle against the coronavirus epidemic. All sites where the fallas were being erected have now been cleared, burned or removed with the exception of this giant head in the main plaza. The plan is to publicly remove the enormous mask covering her mouth only after the ‘all-clear’ is announced.
At this point you will undoubtedly know that due to Covid-19, Spain, like many other countries, is on temporary lockdown and the streets are quiet and empty. The valiant Valèncians are already considering mid-July as a possible safe time frame to host the huge Las Fallas 2020 festival.
We have been lucky to attend both Las Fallas 2018 and 2019 and highly recommend adding València to your travel destination list, especially during a Las Fallas celebration.
Ninot Exhibition 2020
A couple of weeks prior to the cancellation of Las Fallas, we were also able to attend the Ninot Exhibition where guests can view the hundreds of ninots on display and cast one vote for their favorite childrens sculpture and one for their favorite adult-made ninot. Our picks for 2020.
Ninots are lifelike painted statues made of papier-mache, cardboard, wood or plaster and are only one very small part or piece of a larger falla. Infantil ninots are generally 20-30 inches tall and are made by children. The ninots created by adults range in height from 5-8 feet tall. These were a couple of our favorites this year.
El Museo de la Ciencias Príncipe Felipe
After visiting the temporary exhibition of the 2020 ninots in the Science Center at the City of Arts and Sciences, we purchased tickets to visit the permanent and other temporary exhibitions spread out on three more floors.
The Mars exhibition in particular caught our attention. It was a combination of science and science fiction and following our visit we were inspired to watch as many old Martian movies as we could find. Over the next week we enjoyed Mission to Mars-2000 and three much old films: Killers from Space-1954, Red Planet Mars-1952 and The War of the Worlds-1953, based on H.G. Wells’ book The War of the Worlds he penned in 1897.
This next photo is of a poster of one Fighting Machine or Tripod, created by Henrique Alvim Corrêa (1876-1910), a Brazilian illustrator of military and science fiction books. The tripods were the fictional machines used by the Martians in H.G. Wells’ classic tale.
València, Spain’s 3rd largest city, has definitely captured a part of our hearts. The current population is approximately 800,000 inhabitants in the centre and 2.5 million in the greater metropolitan area. The Port of València is the largest port on the west coast of the Mediterranean and a vital port for Spain.
We realized we had written very little about the history of this city so include here a very brief outline.
Influences from past Moor, Christian and Roman rule can be identified in the architecture and felt in the culture. València was founded in 138 BCE by the Romans who named the settlement Valentia Edetanorum – meaning strength or valour, in recognition of the valour of the Roman soldiers who fought against the Iberian rebels.
The Roman Empire collapsed by 476 CE and Valentia came under control of the Visigoths, an early Germanic people. In 711 CE the Muslims easily defeated the crumbling Visigoth empire and took control of the city changing the spelling of the city to Balansiyya.
In 1238, the celebrated King Jaime I or James I of Aragón conquered the city and expelled the Moors. Today locals pronounce València like this: bah/LEHN/thyah
The 14th and 15th centuries are hailed as the Golden Era for the city. The economy prospered due to agriculture and maritime trade. Many of the city’s outstanding buildings were built during this period, including some of our favorites like the València Cathedral, the two Towers – Serrano and Quart, the Silk Exchange or La Lonja and the Palau de la Generalitat which is the headquarters of the València Regional Government still today. Other striking buildings we love in València are the Estacion del Norte train station, the huge Mercado Central, the Mercado de Colon and the Edificio de Correos – Post Office. All were built in the Valencian Art Nouveau or Modernist style between the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s.
València has been named the capital of Spain twice in its history. Once when Joseph Bonaparte moved his Court here in 1812 and a second time between 1936 and 1937, during the Second Spanish Republic.
Two years ago in one of our very early postings called Jardins del Reial, we mentioned the Turia Gardens. To this day it is one of our favorite places to walk, the gardens wrap around much of the old town and are one of the larger urban parks in the country. Once upon a time it was the Turia River but the river was diverted to prevent the continual flooding of the city and in the 1980’s landscapers redesigned the flat unattractive riverbed into 5.5 miles (9 km) of beckoning gardens, convenient foot paths, separate bicycle paths, leisure and sports areas, ponds, children’s playgrounds and romantic spots to unwind. The scenery is ever changing and the 18 bridges, some built as early as the 15th century, that cross over the former river offer wonderful vignettes to photograph and stroll beneath.
We hope each of you stays healthy and safe. Esto también pasará (this too shall pass).
Salud from these valencianos,
Ted & Julia