Tag Archives: Valencia

Barcelona – Spain

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Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona.

After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon.

Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona.

The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments.

It was going to be difficult to top our experiences in Valencia (https://the-tin-man.com/2013/07/23/chapel-of-the-holy-grail-valencia-spain/), but we felt that we must stop in Barcelona.

The Hotel was quite nice and centrally located.

We immediately found the city to be much more dirty than other cities in Spain.

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I know, I know, I know……everyone raves about Barcelona………

…..and a trip there is not complete without a visit to see the works of Antoni Gaudí i Cornet

Gaudí was a Spanish Catalan architect born in Reus, in the Catalonia region of Spain in 1852.

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Much of Gaudí’s work was marked by his big passions in life: architecture, nature, religion.

Gaudí studied every detail of his creations, integrating into his architecture a series of crafts in which he was skilled: ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry.

He introduced new techniques in the treatment of materials, such as trencadís, made of waste ceramic pieces.

After a few years, under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

His work transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style inspired by nature.

Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensional scale models and molding the details as he was conceiving them.

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 Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Gaudí’s works reflect his highly individual and distinctive style and are largely concentrated in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, notably his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família, his masterpiece, and still-uncompleted ,

is one of the most visited monuments in Catalonia…..so of course we had to go….

…this is when my realization that I did not like Barcelona began to take form..

The walk to the church was through sidewalks strewn with litter and with people bumping into you and panhandlers in the streets…….so very, very different from any other city I have ever visited in Spain…

Then we come upon the Gaudi masterpiece…………

…a carnival atmosphere, shouting, lines of people, tour buses with loud speakers, walking tour guides with bullhorns……….for the love!!!

Then there is the church…………sorry to all you Gaudi lovers…………it is ugly…

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After that visit, I needed a more traditional building……The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia

The cathedral was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries, with the principal work done in the 14th century

europe2 130The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, co-patron saint of Barcelona, a young virgin who, according to Catholic tradition, suffered martyrdom during Roman times in the city.

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One story says that she was exposed naked in the public square……….

and a miraculous snowfall in mid-spring covered her nudity.

The enraged Romans put her into a barrel with knives stuck into it and rolled it down a street, according to tradition, the one now called Baixada de Santa Eulàlia, see much more traditional.

The body of Saint Eulalia is entombed in the cathedral’s crypt.

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The choir stalls retain the coats-of-arms of the knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

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Augustine found that his people had also left their mark in the Cathedral…

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….but wait, there is more…….more Gaudi…now off to Parccount eusebi Guell

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The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, the idea of Count Eusebi Güell, after whom the park was named. It was inspired by the English garden city movement

We did pass this most beautiful entrance to a private home on our walk to the Parc….

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Upon our arrival at the Parc, we were once again taken by the carnival atmosphere…the Parc was filled with vendors, street hawkers and panhandlers….and so very, very dirty and littered with garbage….

…..a World Heritage Site……………..REALLY!

……here are some shots from inside….

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the view was nice….

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Okay off to see more sights….one more Gaudí……

Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera  (meaning the ‘The Quarry’)

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 the building was designed by  Antoni Gaudí and built during the years 1906–1912. It is located at 92, Passeig de Gràcia

Standing outside the balconies reminded me of Mardi Gras masks…

The work of Gaudí is too whimsical, too hobbit-like, too gnomish and just a bit too creepy for me…

Some other sights around town…

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Then we come upon the Torre Agbar.

According to the designer, the shape of the Torre Agbar was inspired by Montserrat, a mountain near Barcelona,

by the shape of a geyser rising into the air, and by the male genitalia, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel in association with the Spanish firm B720 Arquitectos and built by Dragados.

Jean Nouvel, in an interview, described it as having a phallic character. 

As a result of its unusual shape, the building is known by several nicknames, such as “el supositori” (the suppository), “l’obús” (the shell) and some more scatological ones.

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It is quite striking at night…

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Well we enjoyed our exploration of Barcelona, as we know it holds great memories for many; however, we did not find it enchanting.

…………off to the Train Station and on to France…….

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Chapel of the Holy Grail – Valencia, Spain

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It was time to board the train from Madrid to Valencia.

The anticipation was great, as we were going to visit The Chapel of The Holy Grail, something I had been looking forward to on this trip.  I could hear the music from the Indiana Jones movies playing in my head, as the train was zipping through the countryside of Spain.

We arrived at  Estacio del Nord in Valencia and began our quest for the Holy Grail

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First a bit about this special city;  Valencia was founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC.

The city is situated on the banks of the Turia river, on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula,  fronting the Gulf of Valencia on the Mediterranean Sea.

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Major monuments include Valencia Cathedral

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 the Torres de Serranos,

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the Torres de Quart,

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the Llotja de la Seda  declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996

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and the City of Arts and Sciences,  an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela

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The Museu de Belles Arts de València houses a large collection of paintings from the 14th to the 18th centuries, including works by Velázquez, El Greco, and Goya, as well as an important series of engravings by Piranesi

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The Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia  was consecrated in 1238 by the first bishop of Valencia after the Reconquista, Pere d’Albalat, Archbishop of Tarragona, and was dedicated by order of James I the Conqueror to Saint Mary. It was built over the site of the former Visigothic cathedral, which under the Moors had been turned into a mosque

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The cathedral contains numerous 15th century paintings, some by local artists (such as Jacomart), others by artists from Rome engaged by the Valencian Pope Alexander VI

who, when still a cardinal, made the request to elevate the Valencian See to the rank of metropolitan see, a category granted by Pope Innocent VIII in 1492

Here are a couple by Goya….

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On our way to find the Chapel of the Holy Grail we stumble upon a mummified arm in a glass case…….yikes!

Turns out it is that of Saint Vincent, the Patron Saint of  Valencia.

Tthe story of Saint Vincent the Martyr begins (ends) when they tried to burn him but his body wouldn’t burn so they tied 4 horses to each of his limbs, whipped the horses and let them run, tearing him apart in the middle of the city, so today one of his arms rests in the Cathedral.

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Okay, past the arm and ……..hello …….tombs…

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Okay, move on,  it is time to find the Holy Chalice the most revered in the world right here in one of this cathedral’s chapels;  this chalice has been defended as the true Holy Grail

………and there it is!  The Chapel is filled with the smell of incense that has been burning for hundreds of years…..

Most Christian historians all over the world declare that all their evidence points to this Valencian chalice as the most likely candidate for being the authentic cup used at the Last Supper

It was the official papal chalice for many popes, and has been used by many others, most recently by Pope Benedict XVI, on July 9, 2006

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 This chalice dates from the 1st century, and was given to the cathedral by king Alfonso V of Aragon in 1436.

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It was quite exciting to be in this place and be in the presence of this acclaimed artifact (by now the music score from the Indiana Jones Movies was BLARING inside my head)…..time to move on..

We visited the rest of the Cathedral, which was quite beautiful and filled with amazing artifacts…

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……wow that was a most exciting and interesting visit…now off to explore the city….

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We found Valencia to be incredibly clean and well kept.  The people were so helpful and friendly!

We had heard about Canela, a most well respected and sought after restaurant….

We arrived when the owner was closing and locking the door…………..NO, please let us in, please……guess what …….. he said yes!!

We went upstairs and the art was amazing…

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The meal was the BEST of our entire lifetimes!  A seven course delight…

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the final course ….. Paella con Arroz Negro…..Paella with rice made with squid ink

Over the Top AMAZING

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If you are ever near Vallence….you MUST eat at Canela

But you know the Tin Man………it is now time to search out the sweets Valencia is known for …….CHOCOLATE

We found it at Valor, known for their outstanding Chocolates….right on the Plaza de la Reyna…

Of course we  had the Chocolate Flight with Churros…..

What experiences and delights we enjoyed in beautiful Valencia….but now it is time to move on…until next time…Adios