6. Valencia: Between Two Gates Self-Guided Smartphone Tour
The history of Valencia is a story about the relationship between a city and its river. Its first Roman settlement was built on an island in the Turia River in 138 BC. The settlement grew, influenced by the river until 1957 when, after a catastrophic flood, it was decided that the torrent should be diverted. On this walking tour, you’ll wade through 2,000 years of history that developed alongside the river. Our tour starts on Pont dels Serrans in Turia Gardens. I’ll then guide you from Torres de Serranos, an old city gate, through the maze of churches, cathedrals, and basilicas in the heart of Ciutat Vella (the old town) to emerge through Torres De Quart, Valencia’s other remaining gate. En route, I’ll show you the city’s most breathtaking attractions including Valencia Cathedral’s impressive 800-year-old Door of the Almoina, the Palace of the Marquis de Dos Aguas, and Europe’s narrowest house, La Casa mas Estrecha. Along with churches, we’ll visit a few mosques. For 500 years, Valencia was an Islamic Caliphate during the North African Muslim Moors’ occupation. Much of their impact on the city was stamped out when the Christians took over but on this tour, I’ll show you the tell-tale signs of this historic chapter from the city’s past. On this 75-minute walk, you’ll also: • Search for the Holy Grail • Hear about the invention of Spain’s national dish, Paella, in the fields of Valencia • Visit two important archaeological digs at Galería del Tossal: first the Muralla Árabe and then La Almoina Archaeological Museum • Discover the sites of medieval executions and learn why Margarida Borras, a transgendered woman in the 1400s, was hung without pants on • See Valencia’s first public hospital, Sant Joan de l’Hospital, which relied mostly on miracles rather than medicine for healing • Spot the cannonball holes in one of two city gates • Grab a bite in the “Cathedral of the Senses,” Mercat Central • Visit the city’s most impressive and beautiful Catholic places of worship, including the Royal Basilica, Valencia Cathedral, and Church of San Nicolás de Bari and San Pedro Mártir • Find out who Little Michael was and why his hat was too small • Take in one of the city’s best preserved Gothic buildings, the Silk Exchange It’s easy to fall in love with Valencia’s pretty face, but when you peek into its past and find out what shaped its personality, you’ll love it even more. Its history runs deep like the Turia River it relied on for most of its life. By the end of this tour, you’ll be enchanted with the place... and possibly craving a Paella.