Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Discovering el Barrio del Carmen

Liam jumping for joy that we were doing another walking tour!
In the distance you can see 3 large archways.
This is the back of the Torres de Serranos.
El Carmen is a neighborhood that forms the historic city center of Valencia.  We had seen bits and pieces of this part of Valencia, but wanted to make sure we explored thoroughly before our stay ended. We headed to the historic center by our normal path of the Turia Riverbed Garden.
In the picture of the park you can see one of the older bridges that crossed what was once the Turia River.
The park is beautiful with clearly marked bike paths.  The park runs about 6 miles from end to end.   I loved  our mode of transportation everyday and you can see why! :)
We followed a self-guided walking tour of this neighborhood, but ended up not being able to finish due to the time of day.  Valencia shuts down for siesta hours and our kids needed naps too.  We were able to do some things we had not yet done like climb to the top of the Torres de Serranos.  This gate is one of the twelve gates that were found along the old medieval city wall.  We enjoyed the good views as well as the details carved throughout the tower.  

Next stop was the Museum of Corpus Christi (previously called Casa de Las Rocas). We hadn't done a lot of research before heading off on our walking tour so we were very surprised when we entered this building.  The Corpus Christi fiesta is the third biggest spectacle after the Fallas (described in another post) and Easter in Valencia.  The museum has all of the Rocas (tall ceremonial stage-carriages pulled by horses), costumes used in the traditional dances and processions (including some very strange ones) and the walls are covered in photos and explanations of how all this stuff is used every year.  It was basically large garages jammed with floats that we were able to meander through and look at.

After doing some walking, we needed to stop for lunch.  We grabbed a pizza and a park bench.
Another surprise for the day was visiting the Museum Centro del Carmen.  The convent was founded in 1281. In its origins, the old convent was constituted of a church and a few common rooms located around the monastery garden. The garden was built in a gothic style. Later, in the 16th century the convent was growing, they built a second monastery garden, but now in renaissance style. At this time, it was as well the most splendid and prosperous times for the city of Valencia and the Valencian economy. Now, exhibition halls are old rooms of the convent: the refectory, the dormitory, the chapter house.  We were surprised by the wide assortment of art on display as well as the vast grounds of the convent itself.
The medieval garden was my favorite thing about the entire museum.
Before heading home for rest time (do you see Liam has his pacifier), we stopped by the Cat House to let the kids have a closer look during the day time hours.

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