Friday, 26 August 2016

Valencia, part two: Taming Lions With Pen and Paper

Valencia, Spain (Valencia, España)
December 2015
The carpark for our AirBNB was a ten-minute walk away from the apartment, and we missed Denis so we paid him a visit one morning. (We also needed a few forgotten supplies like a colander that Yannick had fun carrying around the streets.)
That day we set our sights on the old silk market - La Lonja de la Seda. 
A main component of the commercial site is the Hall of Columns, where merchants worked out contracts. Once upon a time, the ceiling was painted to resemble the night's sky. The room is hugely impressive, showing how a city's wealth in the 15th and 16th-century could produce amazing Gothic buildings. For good reason, the market was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and visitors from all over the globe come to marvel at its impressive columns.

Down a small staircase in the courtyard, we found a partially underground room that looked like it served as a chapel at one point. It felt a bit dank, but I've seen many weirder places to worship (bone church, anyone?).

Taking the stairs upwards this time, we entered a function room that a royal would envy.

The ceiling alone was so ornately detailed and inlaid with gold that I could imagine selling it would raise so much money that one could purchase the country of Liechtenstein.

And that floor? Daaaaamn girl, that's a fine floor you got right there.

The outside featured crenelations that looked like crowns, tiny gargoyles and a thousand different decorative techniques.

As with every other important building in Valencia, the old silk market just had to have an orange tree courtyard. But this one also had some mandarin trees! Good on them for promoting citrus diversity.

With much of the afternoon left, we walked south through the more downtown area, and found a post box with a lion's mouth as a letter depository. It was interesting to see how different the narrow streets of the old town were to the wide avenues of the modern part of the city.

Further south, we strolled through the Russafa district, which is perhaps best known for its throbbing nightlife. In the daylight, however, people come to sip coffee at hip cafés and shop at markets. On a Lonely Planet recommendation, we lunched at a half-deli-half-restaurant, finishing off our meal with little desserts and a bout of people-watching.
The evening was spent watching Inglorious Basterds alongside cava, chocolate and bread. Not too shabby.