Monument

San Nicolás, the Valencian Sistine Chapel
3 July, 2018 / ,

Art

When the restorer of the Sistine Chapel, Gianluigi Colalucci, contemplated the church of ‘San Nicolás’ in 2014 he could only exclaim: “Long live the Valencian Sistine Chapel!”

St. Nicholas is a 13th-century Gothic church located in the historical centre where Valencia was founded. The city was constituted by the Romans in the year 138 of our era.

Established as a parish in the place where a mosque previously existed, the church of ‘San Nicolás’ stands out for being one of the first 12 Catholic temples, subsequent to the conquest of King Jaime I.

During the fifteenth century, when Alfonso de Borja, rector of ‘San Nicolás’ and future Pope Calixto III, would encourage the enlargement of the apse and the feet of the parish to give it the structure and size maintained nowadays. However, the artistic wonder – that leaves parishioners and tourists who visit it speechless – would take place a few centuries later.

Baroque was imposed on Western culture at the end of the seventeenth century and every parish that appreciated itself had to follow that style. The paintings of St. Nicholas are commissioned by the fashionable artist of the time, Cordovan Antonio Palomino, who is committed to make designs of everything that was going to be painted, as well as to give it theological meaning. Due to Palomino’s overwork, the materialisation of such a work of art would be performed by his disciple, the Valencian Dionís Vidal. Self-portraits of both of them are on the right of the rosette, whose light is filtered reflecting a magical polychrome drawing inside the church. Palomino wears black, while Vidal, in the background, seems to show himself with the attitude of one who seeks the approval of his teacher.

The result: almost 2,000 square metres of stunning fresco painting, between the walls and the whole vault. The paintings of the central vault are divided into six lunettes on each side, North and South, in which the lives of ‘San Pedro Mártir’ and ‘San Nicolás’ are respectively represented. Everything in them is loaded with symbolism and elegance.

Of its architecture we highlight the Main Altar, it is also of Baroque style although more ornate. It was designed by Juan Bautista Pérez Castiel, one of the Cathedral of Valencia’s architects. In the Greater Altar, both Catholic saints are even in their Glory, upon reaching the end of their earthly life.

Return the colour to the darkened

The original paintings in the church of ‘San Nicolás’ were hidden by the passage of the years and, specifically, smoked by centuries of lit candles in honour of the diverse saints and images of the Virgin that lodges the parish.

After several previous restoration attempts, the Valencian institution “Fundación Hortensia Herrero”, at the beginning of this decade, made a commitment to return the original luminosity and colour to this century-old temple.

The restoration works were implemented between 2013 and 2016, in coordination with the Valencian Archbishopric and the specialists at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV). Thanks to the use of innovative and complex techniques, they managed to recuperate the church of St. Nicholas’ artistic greatness. It also includes the architectural rehabilitation directed by Carlos Campos.

Once this first intervention was finished, the UPV remains in charge of pre-emptive conservation, through the use of sophisticated systems that even measure the environment’s humidity. Scaffolding and closed doors, that travellers can find these days in the facades and in the interior of the building, already correspond to a new stage of this church’s restoration which still holds many treasures to unveil.

The origin of Santa Claus

Perhaps because St. Nicholas is considered one of the Catholic saints protecting children, the life and worship of St. Peter the Martyr is relegated by the devotion that the Valencians profess to ‘San Nicolás’.

But the Valencians are not the only ones who pay homage to St. Nicholas. In this increasingly global world, thanks to which Valencia receives the visit of numerous foreigners, it is sometimes these same guests who better know the life of St. Nicholas, which Palomino and Vidal left expressed in their designs and paintings.

Saint Nicolas is the personality who distributes toys and happiness to many children of the world every year. In the present time, he comes to compete with the prominence of the Wise Men during the Spanish Christmases. As it is called and imagined in a part of the north of Europe, Santa Claus can be recognized in the second of the lunettes dedicated to this saint.

Other images such as that of St. Nicholas resurrecting three children boiled by an innkeeper, the high number of angels dispersed around different places of the church or the little ones placed at the feet of the saints, in the High Altar, attest to the importance given to the coming generations in this church.

Valencian Lonja
1 May, 2018 / ,

Art, History and Commerce

Since the 15th century, the striking monument of La Lonja houses a trade based on the good faith of its merchants

La Lonja is one of Valencia’s emblematic buildings. Its imposing stone walls carry within it the history of a trade based on its merchants’ good faith, that even many Valencians are unaware of and that we will speak about shortly. Before, a brief note about this architectural combination, regarding an example of European Gothic art.

Declared National Historical-Artistic Monument in 1931 and World Heritage of Humanity in 1996, “La Lonja de Valencia”, also known as the “Lonja de los Mercaderes” (Merchants’ Market) or the “Lonja de la Seda” (Silk Market), consists of three sections. From Mercado square, from right to left, the Lonja as such -from the Italian “loggia”- and the “Torre central” (Central Tower) can be seen. The third element is known as the “Pabellón del Consulado”.

From its practically flat facades, the magnificent work of the stonemasons stands out. It is laden with medieval symbolism such as the anthropomorphic or zoomorphic gargoyles, or the 40 medallions on the frieze of the facades that overlook the garden, Cordellats street and Mercado square, where kings like the then reigning Charles I or their ancestors the Catholic Kings were sculpted along gods from Greek mythology.

From its interior, the “Salón de Contratación” or “Columnario” especially impresses. It is a spacious and high rectangular hall, divided into three longitudinal naves, with eight helical columns that support a 17.40 meters high vault and 16 other columns attached to the walls. The first Mercantile Contracting Center of Valencia was established in this Hall. Equivalent to the “Bourse de Commerce” in Paris or the New York Produce Exchange.

La Lonja Consulate

In the thirteenth century, with only one wooden quay, Valencia was already a center for active maritime traffic linked to commerce. Proof of this is that in 1283, King Pedro III “El Grande” granted the city the royal privilege which established the “Consulado del Mar” (the Sea Consulate), a court of commerce based on those of the Italian republics of the time which until the eighteenth century compiled and executed the mercantile and marine customs.

The inheritor of this institution is the current “Consulado de La Lonja”, whose primary objective is to coordinate the interests of the different agricultural sectors, of enormous relevance to the Valencian economy, while maintaining relations between traders, industrialists and commercial agents.

Among its highlighted services is the publication of the price of about 150 products listed in “La Lonja de Valencia”, including pig livestock, eggs, rice, cereals, leguminosae, flours, bran, carob pods, legumes, nuts, potatoes, onions and citrus fruits, and whose bulletin consists of 24 varieties.

As a contracting center, thanks to the guarantee offered by its contracts, it is also worth noting the importance of other products such as wines or green coffee and, as an exception of the agricultural sector, the philately and the numismatics of which the tourist can enjoy Sundays and holidays. But, undoubtedly, the most characteristic element of La Lonja Consulate is the use of Arbitration in Equity to resolve the possible disagreements in hiring, based on trade in good faith.

In the Hall of Contracts, the tables where negotiations would take place were changed by the new technologies a few decades ago, but guild meetings, assemblies and other events continue to be held in the Consulate Pavilion. Do not be surprised, therefore, to see these businessmen during your visit to “La Lonja”.

The Colón Market
2 April, 2018 / ,

The Colón Market, admired for its architecture since 1916, encloses a gastronomic market for the delight of Valencians and visitors.

The Colón Market is an architectural gem that arouses the amazement of whoever discovers it for the first time, while feeding Valencian pride.

Designed by Francisco Mora Berenguer and built a century ago during the first extension of the city of Valencia, it was the residential area of the bourgeoisie of the epoch, the Colón Market is considered one of the main symbols of Valencian modernist architecture.

The building stands out for the combination of an imposing metallic structure supported by foundry pillars, the absence of side walls and its two monumental facades of stone set in brick.

The contrast between the functional and its rich ornamentation is one of its greatest attractions.

The floor of this market is rectangular, with three naves: a central one that reaches 18.60 meters in height and the two laterals, with cantilevers to each side.

With regard to the facades, it is necessary to emphasize the magnitude of its entrances in arc form, as in the glazed part of the access oriented to the North, that terminates in an original marquee.

The chromaticism and the beauty of the ceramic mosaics are due to its architect, Ricardo Tárrega, and can be appreciated both inside and outside the building. Focussing, for example, on the representation of oranges and clusters of grapes, two of the typical fruits of the region.

An authentic wonder!

Restructured into a gastronomic market

The Colón Market, as we know it today, cannot be understood without the rehabilitation of this building between 1997 and 2003.

At the close of the last century, the evolution of society, the appearance of new distribution models and the lack of maintenance resulted in the Colón Market falling into abandonment.

The rehabilitation project, commissioned by the architect Luis López Silgo, made it possible to recover and convert the old market into a gastronomic market, where breakfast, lunch, dinner or rest and have a beer, a coffee and even a delicious horchata, the Valencian drink par excellence.

The traces of the past, however, remain in trade related to the purchase and sale of goods such as florists, butchers, delicatessens, fishmongers and more specifically, the greengrocers whose owners are members of a family that amounts to four generations in the building.

Together, the Colón Market is a busy space dedicated to leisure, where Valencians and travelers intermingle in glazed shops and terraces watered by natural light. An ideal place where gourmet palates can also enjoy a relaxed, modern and modernist atmosphere.

Location: C / Jorge Juan, 19. 46004 Valencia.
Hours: Monday to Thursday from 7:30 am to 2:00 am; and Friday and Saturday from 7:30 am to 3:00 am.
Metro: Colón station. Lines: 3 and 5.
Bus lines: 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 13, 18, 22, 30, 32, 40, 79 and N1.
Parking: Open 24 hours.

‘La Marina de València’, a space to enjoy!
6 July, 2017 / ,

Marine

Cultural offerings, nautical activities, gastronomy, architecture, history and innovation are some of the attractions that the tourist will find in the Valencia’s marine

La Marina de València” cannot be understood without the city’s history or the contribution of its people. From the sailors and fishermen from the maritime towns who have accompanied it since the existence of a small jetty raised nearly a millennium ago. From the farmers and businessmen promoting an exporting Valencia, whose time of splendour would be reflected in the modernist buildings that enclose it today. Of those who bet on the Valencian nautical industry until this portion of the port was fi with moorings. From the innkeepers who offer the best products from our land and our Mediterranean in a unique environment. Ultimately, from all the Valencians who welcome the traveller in a hospitable way.

It is located just 20 minutes away from the city centre by bus, metro or bicycle, and 15 minutes by car. In the Valencia’s marine the tourist will discover a sea of choices: concerts, exhibitions, play areas for children, restaurant business offerings, a beach club and nautical activities. In it you can walk, run or bike contemplating the old and modern buildings, like the emblematic “Veles e Vents”. You will step on the Formula 1 track circuit and admire the boats at a dock for megayachts, whose stimulus was due to the celebration of the 32nd America’s Cup at the end of the last decade.

“La Marina de València” is, therefore, a place where the traveller can enjoy a public space that is increasingly open to Valencians, the Mediterranean and the world. The Levantine horizon of the city merges with its beaches, under the key principle of respect for the environment.

Nautical epicentre

The visitor will find about 40 businesses for nautical services and activities in the Valencia’s marine, which include mechanics, painting, boat and jet ski repairs, rental and sales, and a long etcetera of complementary services. Around this industry, the focus on specialised professional training in this area is being developed.

Business ecosystem

Can you imagine being able to start up your business in an idyllic place? It is possible in the Valencia’s marine. With more than one million square metres, the largest marina in Europe also has a space where creativity and innovation are valued. It is committed to training, start-ups’ support, and sustainable enterprises development is stimulated.

Under the name of “Marina de Empresas” three institutions are positioned: Edem, the training school for entrepreneurs and managers plus the entrepreneurs and engineers’ university; the companies accelerator, Lanzadera; and Angels, the investment company that bases its decisions on the Total Quality Model.

Innsomnia is another wager on innovation based in this marine. It is the first business incubator specialised in Fintech in Spain.