Plaza del Ayuntamiento, Valencia Spain

I have only been to Valencia in Spain, but I know I love Spain. I really want to visit and see more. Valencia is a lovely city, not as big as some of the other more famous cities, but it has a beautiful old part of town, and the food is fantastic. I went in September 2014 to host a conference on Alzheimer's Disease. I had the opportunity to also talk about the work that I am doing in relation to the timing of diagnosis and international health policies on supporting access to dementia diagnostic services. 

This is the Town Hall Square, a part of the old city. In Spanish it is called Plaza del Ayuntamiento. There is so much architectural variation within the square - it is a great place to see how buildings changed in this region over time. Two important buildings in this square are the neoclassical Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) and the Central Post Office (Edificio de Correos), designed by architect Miguel Angel Navarro.  All around there are lovely details to each building that you need time to enjoy.

But I spent the most time at the Valencia Cathedral.  Also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia. Consecrated in 1238, the Valencia Cathedral combines a number of architectural styles, including early Romanesque, Renaissance (the chapels), Baroque (main entrance), Neoclassical, and the striking Gothic style, which dominates the entire construction.  The cathedrals sits at the  back of the square, and you can walk all the way around it.

This photo is from the back of the cathedral, where there is another plaza and a lovely fountain. The architecture is mostly Gothic. In 1774 a makeover was commenced to give it more of a neoclassical appearance as that was considered more sophisticated at the time. Many of the Gothic elements were either removed or covered up.

This photo is of the entrance from the Plaza del Ayuntamiento side called the Door of the Irons. The sandstone is beautiful and the detail is incredible.  In 1931 the building was classified as an historic and artistic landmark by the Spanish government, but it was burned in the Spanish Civil War and so lost many of the decorative touches. In 1970 work began to restore the cathedral to it's former glory. A building was demolished next to the cathedral so that it appeared more in it's original state. At that time they also removed some of the more recent add-on architectural features which did not add value.

Now the cathedral stands proudly in the square, having been reinstated as a Spanish building of significance in 1999.  The inside of the cathedral is simple in some places, and quite dramatic in others, with amazing high ceilings and arches.

Of great importance is the Holy Chalice kept at the cathedral. You can go and see it on display. The cup is made of dark red agate which is mounted by means of a knobbed stem and two curved handles onto a base made from an inverted cup of chalcedony. The agate cup is about 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) in diameter and the total height, including base, is about 17 centimetres (7 inches) high.

I was very excited about this until I found out that there were several artifacts stored in different locations all claiming to be the Holy Chalice (the cup used by Jesus at the last supper).  There is lots of information to suggest that this is the REAL one, but who can say. It's still pretty exciting to see it.

If you get tired of buildings you can take a walk down to the Mediterranean Sea. I went via Eugenia Vines in Las Arenas. I loved the wooden boardwalk all the way down to the sea edge, and the lovely tents for changing into your swimmers. The smell of the sea is wonderful.

I had my first Tapas (appetizers or snacks in Spanish cuisine - either hot or cold) in Spain and my first Sangria. Both amazing. The choices for food in Valencia are plentiful.  I can't remember the name of this restaurant, but I enjoyed going with my Spanish friend who ordered lots of different options for me to try. Definitely the way to enjoy food in Spain.

Take every opportunity to visit Spain. I can't wait to go back.