Sunday, 28 August 2016

Valencia, part three: Dumpster Diving With The Ancients - Valentia’s Ceremonial Landfill

Valencia, Spain (Valencia, España)
December 2015
Still becoming fast-travel weary, we planned only one excursion for the day - the Museo Arqueológico de la Almoina, Valencia's main archaeological museum. 
On our way there, we stopped to capture a landmark: the belltower of the church of Santa Catalina. Baroque in style, the tower was built on the site of an older mosque's minaret.

Also on the way was the Plaza de la Virgen. On one side of the plaza is the Basilica de Virgen de Los Desamparados, which is joined to the cathedral via a small covered walkway above the street. Passing under this walkway, we found ourselves in a smaller plaza where the museum is housed.

It was here that we saw a teeny tiny police car which was unintentionally cute, contrasting with the heavily armed and bearded police officer on patrol.

Always one for models, I took the time to point out various places we had been on a city model in the square. 

Once we managed to fight our way through a sea of schoolchildren who were standing in, lounging around and generally blocking up the whole square, we were in the calm of the museum. Valencia's history is rich and long, starting with colonisation by the Roman Empire in 138 BC, when it was known as Valentia (which is Latin for "strength"). The museum showcased two of the major roads used during Roman times, as well as the courtyard of the city during Moorish times, and a 2nd-century bath complex.
I appreciated the effort that had been put into the displays, which often showed representations of what the ruins may have looked like in their heyday.

Picture for a moment that you are an archaeologist. Think of what it must be like digging in the sweltering heat for years, finding nothing but potsherds, until the day that you uncover not one, but a hoard of coins! That must feel pretty special. These coins were from the days of the Alcazar.
Another interesting tidbit that was far less photogenic was a great big hole that had been dug at the founding of the city. The Roman soldiers who were like "let's make a city!" partied for days, throwing all their trash (pots, plates and animal carcases) into this ceremonial well. Founding complete!

Another model! This was of the city's nymphaeum, which was a religious building dedicated to nymphs (don't ask me why). As we were going to leave, we were deeply dismayed to see that the schoolchildren were still outside. They were slumped all around the entrance and we had to repeat the word "disculpe!" while gently nudging them with the door. Finally free, we fled and considered paying the €5 fee to visit the cathedral, but decided to put that money towards lunch instead.
Back at the Plaza de la Virgen, we waited for fifteen minutes to be seated at the bustling café Saona, where we enjoyed three courses and tried to read a Spanish newspaper. After we had finished eating, a waiter came over holding two plates of extra dessert and looked questioningly at us. Sadly we did not receive second helpings for free. 

Today's post was almost called: Arriba, Arriba! Ándale, Tiny Police Hombre