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Valencia History of a Wonderlful City

Feb 29, 2008
Packed with museums, churches, and squares, the Moorish past comes alive, enhanced by the seamless introduction of eateries and bars making this not only the heart of the past but the heart of modern Valencia. So, in between a seafood meal or tapas snack, let's see what there is to be seen in the beautiful old city of Valencia.

The Santa Catalina Church hosts prayers three times a day and four on holidays and Sundays, but whether you are religious or not it is a necessary stop on your travels through the old city of Valencia. Situated on Plaza de la Reina, the Santa Catalina tower is a tribute to baroque style in its fluid elegance added in the 18th century to this originally fourteenth century church whose gothic style can still be seen on the interior.

The Torres de Quart is breathtaking in its size, built in gothic style as part of the original city fortifications; it was here that Napoleon's troops entered the city in nineteenth century. Recently renovated, the war scars of canon balls flung are now a thing of the past, the huge turrets of Torres de Quarts stand proud overlooking the narrow streets of Carmen that they were once built to protect.

The Torres de Serranos predate the Torres de Quart, a fact apparent in the architecture. Unlike the Torres de Quart which stand amongst the buildings it protects the Torres de Serranos has space in which its true majesty can be appreciated. Pere Balaguer started work on this city gate in 1394 utilizing the fashionable gothic style of the time. However, their defensive use was rarely tested and through the centuries served as a trade gate rather than a fortified tower. That was until 1586 when it became used as a prison for the nobility, a function which continued into the nineteenth century. Today, visitors can roam all over the Torres de Serranos, exploring its many levels and soaking in the phenomenal views from the top.

The Tribunal de las Aguas or the Water Courts is an institution of its own, and is an event rather than a site. The Tribunal de las Aguas has been meeting for over a thousand years and is reputed to be the oldest ongoing democratic institution in the world. Meeting at midday on Thursdays the court convenes in order to settle disputes over irrigation in the area, exactly as it did 1,000 year ago for the local Moorish farmers. Today the number of disputes are few and far between and so often the court is dismissed as soon as it convenes, if however you are lucky enough to come on a day when there is a dispute you will be witness to the oldest democratic court in the world.

One really gets to set the tone of ones holiday by choosing carefully which area to stay in. the old city of Valencia is a wonderful options in terms of both atmosphere and amenities. One should expect to pay between 60 and 100 euros per night for decent hotel accommodation in the old city of Valencia, but hostels are available from 15 euros per night for a bed in a dorm.
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