Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘cathedrales

A few years ago I visited Valencia and loved it. I realized I hadn’t written a blog post about this marvellous city located halfway between Alicante and Barcelona. It is often overlooked in favour of places like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Toledo and Granada. All great cities, but I would also highly recommend a visit to this, the third-largest city in Spain. It’s a wonderful example of the old and the new blended together perfectly. Valencia is rich in history, amazing architecture, an oasis of art, culture and leisure, and the home of paella! It’s also one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.

After a few devasting floods, the city planners diverted the river Turia three kilometres south of downtown and turned the former river bed into a pleasant ten-kilometre green space enjoyed by all. Parks, gardens, sports facilities, children’s play areas and walking paths fill this fifteen-hectare space.

Turia Gardens in the old riverbed
Turia Gardens
Sporting events held in the former riverbed

I took a hop-on hop-off bus tour which enabled me to see most of the city. The architecture is amazing. Here are a few samples. Some of my pictures were taken from the bus so are not as good as could be, but you’ll get the idea.

At each end of the bridge called, Puente del Real, stand religious statues.
The Tower of Santa Catalina
The Bank of Valencia building
The Micalet belltower, part of the Valencia Cathedral built on the site of a former mosque, and before that a Roman temple.
The Serranos Towers once guarded an important entrance to the city.

I remember enjoying the 1961 film, El Cid, starring Charlton Heston and Sophie Loren. (Yes, I loved historic movies way back then already) I was excited to find a statue of the popular 11th-century warrior who fought to free Spain from invaders. He is a popular Spanish folk hero and has been called The Prince of Valencia.

The famous Spanish warrior, El Cid
Plaza de la Virgin with a fountain representing the river Turia
Front of the Church of Los Santos Juanes

There are so many wonderful museums to visit, but I didn’t have much time so chose the Ceramics Museum housed in the Palace of Marquis de Don Aguas. The splendid facade of the building is worth the visit alone. Inside are fabulous pieces of ceramics dating from pre-historic times to the present day as well as tapestries, jewellery and furniture. This visit requires a post of its own.

Palace of the Marquis de Don Aguas, home of the Ceramics Museum

In my previous post, I mentioned the troupe of traditional dancers I came across. I love when this happens! They were so delighted with my interest in them, that they gave me a front-row seat to watch their performance. The children were adorable.

The men’s traditional Valencian costume
The dancing was terrific. It made my day!

Valencia also has Art Nouveau buildings as well as modern structures including a world-class music hall, an art centre, a group of buildings that make up the futuristic City of Arts and Science and a Science Museum. Something to check out on another visit.

I had such a wonderful time and certainly plan to return to this incredible city.

There are just so many things to see and do in Barcelona that it’s impossible to see everything in one visit. Every time I go, I discover something new and exciting. I took my out-of-town guests to this fascinating city last summer where we visited Mount Tibidabo, the highest point in Barcelona, and loved it!

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The charming blue tram

Getting there was part of the fun. We first took a bus, then a pleasant ride on a quaint blue tram with a friendly driver that took us through Barcelona’s most affluent residential area. The well-loved blue tram has been in operation since 1901 and still has that old world charm with dark wood seats and ceiling.

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Beautiful homes from the window of the tram. Note the gorgeous wrought iron fence and gate.

The tram only took us halfway up the mountain. To reach the top we had to board a vintage funicular. We entered the colourful contraption with trepidation but decided that if it had been pulling folks up to the top of the mountain for 116 years, it must be OK.

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Dubious funicular to the top of the mountain

Once safely delivered to the top of Mount Tibidabo, we were greeted by a classic amusement park built in 1889. Overlooking the vintage rides and fast food kiosks, the impressive Temple of Tibidabo built in 1902, stands proud. Also known as the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is adorned with a golden bronze statue of Jesus with outstretched arms as if giving a benediction to all of Barcelona.

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We had a quick look at the old Ferris wheel, merry-go-round and other childhood rides but decided not to go on them. Our prime interest was the church.

The interior of the church was impressive with many works of art, murals, statues, mosaics and stained glass windows.

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Many awesome icons inside the church including a Black Madonna and Child.

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I loved the details like this iron door infront of  a private chapel

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Mosaic floor depicting the story of the loaves and fishes

An elevator took us up to the terrace offering amazing panoramic views of the city, port and coastline. As we walked around the entire circumference we enjoyed close-up views of large stone statues depicting the twelve Apostles posted at intervals, ornate bell towers and intricate carvings.

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An ornate bell tower on the terrace

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One of the twelve Apostles overlooking the city

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Another apostle, with a fabulous view.

Stone stairs took us to more levels until we reached the top under the golden statue of Jesus. It was amazing. The wind blew, the sun shone and we were delighted to have had this experience.

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We worked our way to the top via the spiral stone staircases.

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More intriguing details. In the foreground is the top of a gate made to look like a flowering plant.

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After enjoying a nice lunch, I had yummy deep-fried artichokes with aioli dip and an iced coffee, we bought a few souvenirs and took the funicular, tram, and bus trip back to our hotel in time for another exciting outing.

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Visiting Mount Tibidabo with good friends made it all the more enjoyable!

We took the bus to Mosta, a market town in the middle of Malta. In the centre of Mosta sits a fabulous domed cathedral built in the mid-1800s. It is an amazing piece of architecture inside and out, featuring the third largest unsupported church dome in Europe. Dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady, it replaced a much smaller church that had been on the site since 1619. The Mosta Rotunda is also the site of a miracle.

The Mosta Rotunda

Inside the church

The dome

During WWII, on April 9, 1942, while over 400 parishioners worshipped inside, a 200 kg German bomb hit the church, pierced the dome and landed in the aisle. It did not hit a single person and it did not explode! It rolled to the base of the pulpit and stopped. The military bomb disposal team removed it, defused it and threw it into the sea. A miracle indeed. A replica of the bomb can be viewed in the sacristy.

It gave me goosebumps to see this. My husband pointed out where the bomb entered the dome as the coloration where it was repaired is slightly different.

Ornate vestments from the past.

Statue of Our Lady

The statue of the Assumption of Our Lady, 1868

The church contains a lot of artwork and important icons. The Feast of the Assumption of Saint Mary is celebrated in August where some of the statues are taken out and paraded around town.

The font containing holy water.

Visiting this church proved to be a moving experience for me, providing proof that miracles do happen. Hubby later treated me to lunch overlooking the magnificent Mosta Rotunda. It was definitely worth a visit, one I won’t forget.

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My last post described the amazing medieval market in Orihuela. Orihuela is an interesting city dating back to the sixth century when the foundations were laid by the Romans. It sits at the base of the Sierra de Orihuela Mountains in the province of Alicante, Spain. As much as I enjoyed the market, I was also taken by the historic buildings and managed to take a few pictures which I would like to share.

 

The Town Hall

The Town Hall

Santo Domingo Diocese College

Santo Domingo Diocese College

Salvador and Santa Maria Cathedral

Salvador and Santa Maria Cathedral

 

Bell tower

Bell tower

Cathedral courtyard

Cathedral courtyard

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Santiago Parish Church

Mosque found in a side street

Mosque found in a side street

Another interesting doorway

Another interesting doorway

ornate water fountain

ornate water fountain

original archway

original archway

I love taking pictures of interesting doorways and there were many to be found in Orihuela. There are a number of museums in the city as well which I would love to visit. I do believe I need to make another trip to explore this interesting city some more. Hope you enjoyed this glimpse.

 


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