Travel: Valencian Atmosphere

Most attractions in Spain tend to remain closed on Mondays, it was no different in Valencia. Mind you, this doesn’t included the mid-day siesta’s that the Spanish enjoy. Unfortunately, this means that I had to forego some of my desired historical sites, since my mother needs to catch a flight in Paris in 10 days. 😦

We did have a very relaxing day however, and it was kicked-off by a visit to the Central Market! It has been in operation since 1928, and provides a large variety of food products that are freshly enticing. Walking through the diverse array of stalls allowed us to immerse ourselves in the grocery lives of the locals, and find some great snacks to tide us over in our nearby hostel. Valencian Oranges are delicious!

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After, we went back to the hostel to snack on our newly acquired fruit, we regrouped, and then left for our next destination, the Llotja de la Seda, the old silk exchange. It was built between 1482 and 1548, and was designed by the architect Pere Compte. An important inscription is engraved on the walls of the trading hall.

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Inclita domus sum annis aedificata quindecim. Gustate et videte concives quoniam bona est negotiatio, quae non agit dolum in lingua, quae jurat proximo et non deficit, quae pecuniam non dedit ad usuram eius. Mercator sic agens divitiis redundabit, et tandem vita fructur aeterna.”

It demonstrates that good trade and ethical behavior can be established regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Since none of the other venues I originally wanted to visit were open, we opted to visit the City of Arts and Science an amazing cultural complex. It was envisioned by one of my favorite architects, Santiago Calatrava, who is responsible for designing some of the most iconic buildings that are recognized in the world today. See the pictures below for some amazing views of the structures.

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At this point, we only had half the day left, so we opted to visit the L’Oceanogràfic, which is the 2nd largest in the world, and the largest in all of Europe. It is an open-air marine park in which each ‘habitat’ is submerged below the surface (excluding those creatures that are suited to southern Spain’s climate). 10 habitats are represented, and 45,000 animals spread across 500 different species of fish, birds, mammals, invertebrates and reptiles are distributed into a volume of 1.2 million square feet. It was literally breathtaking.

We wrapped up the day by consuming some genuine Valencia Paella. Yummm!

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Travel: Religious Artifacts and Moving Art

We touched on some deep religious moments when wandering through some lesser-known sites today. It’s incredibly moving to see the beauty of faith, which is blatantly prevalent when one travels though Europe. You can see the elegance and effort the owner, engineer, and architect invested in the creation of such magnificent buildings. You can see the care that each structural fragment of history is treated with, and how delicately they handle the religious art and artifacts.

It is a challenge for me to fully comprehend this, given how the world, and the experiences of my friends, and my own has shaped my pessimism, glass is half empty views on reality. This is not to say that I am not touched, I truly understand the allure of having faith, I just merely lack it myself. I will admit, it is sometimes a struggle when I visit these prominent examples of medieval faith, for I truly wish I had it too. :/. Today was no exception. 

*Interior pictures were not permitted (as usual) so I am sorry to say I cannot present these locations in their full glory.

The Convent de La Encarcion was founded in 1611 by Felipe the III and his wife, Margarita de Austria. It was intended as a retreat for titled ladies and is the sight of one of the most important catholic reliquaries in the world, storing more than 1500 saintly relics. These include skulls, arms encased in ornate hand-shaped containers, and bones from every part of the body.

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It is best known as the location of the blood of St. Januarius and of  St. Pantaleon. St. Pantaleon was a 4th century doctor-marytr. Legend foretells that if his ‘petrified vial of blood’ does not liquefy on his feast day (July 26 at midnight), great tragedies will occur.

The Monasteiro de las Descalzas Reales was originally the site of a medieval palace home to Charles I of Spain and Isabel of Portugal. Joanna of Austria, their daughter, founded this convent in the mid-16th century. Since this monastery was royally approved, a succession of titled ladies joined, bringing a host of artistic treasures with them. It is still functioning today and houses 23 shoeless nuns of the Franciscan order.

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In the reliquary, a chest is said to house wood pieces from Christ’s cross.

What are your thoughts on Faith? How do you keep it alive? If you don’t, Why do you not believe?

Travel: El Escorial

Having completed far more than I thought we could in the half-day we had in Madrid after arriving via plane, we decided to take a Day Trip to the site of El Escorial.

El Escorial was formerly the official residence of the King of Spain; it serves multiple functions. It has two primary architectural complexes, which serve the dual purposes of representing the power of the Spanish Monarchy, and illustrating the predominance of Roman Catholicism. Phillip II invested his inexhaustible stores of New World Gold to stem the growing protestant tide during the reformation. Failing to do this, he decided to enlist  Juan Bautista de Toledo as the collaborator on this complex in 1559. However, the building was not completed until 1584, and his apprentice, Juan de Herrera had already taken over due to Toledo’s death.



Since pictures where not allowed in the interior, a certain percentage of the following photographs are provided courtesy of Wikipedia. I will say, that this is irksome, as pictures themselves do not harm the heritage, flashes do!! I do understand that many tourists do not follow this rule stringently, and I believe this is why photograph capabilities were ruined for all of us. 😦

My favorite rooms are as follows (I swear I walked MILES through the interior of this great structure):

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Wikipedia: Hall of Battles


Wikipedia: Pantheon of Kings

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Tomb of Infants



Wikipedia: Biblioteca

I’m obviously feeling really lazy today, so I will leave it to you to do the research this time. 😛