Culture in Valencia's Cathedral Neighborhood
The cultural scene in Valencia's Cathedral quarter reaches back centuries before the Cathedral was even built- and you'll soon see that it hasn't slowed down since!
Long before Valencia became the unique metropolis that it is today, the Roman Empire counted the city amongst its enormous collection of belongings. Roman settlers named their town Valentia and the area, in true Roman Empire fashion, flourished and set Valencia on the right path. In fact, just steps away from the Cathedral you'll find two of the zone's historical-cultural spots: the former heart of Valentia and now archaeological site of La Almoina and the Plaza de la Virgen which actually once served as Valentia's Roman forum.
First taking on this character as a bustling hub of commercial activity as part of Roman Valentia, the Cathedral quarter has yet to lose its energetic vibe as a place to buy, sell and barter goods. Today, you'll find the enormous Mercado Central; built in the Moderniste architectural style, the covered market is one of the biggest in all of Europe and is a hive of activity where you can find anything from fruits and vegetables to meat, shellfish and herbs- all fresh!
Nearby you'll also find the Lonja de los Mercaderes. Resembling the ideal medieval castle of popular imagination, the stunning Gothic structure- complete with battlements, gargoyles, and a tower- was once a silk exchange. Today, aside from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an emblem of the city and the subject of many a photo, continues to enjoy commercial activity on weekdays.
Nowadays, the Cathedral and its immediate surroundings compose what we could probably designate Valencia's hub of religious activity. Amongst the throngs of churches and monasteries, seek out the Visigoth Cripta de la Cárcel de San Vicente Mártir. Dating back to before the 8th century, the tiny chapel and was supposedly used to jail Valencia's patron, Saint Vicente the Martyr.
Then of course there is the stunning Cathedral. Demonstrating practically every epoch of Christian Valencian architecture in one building, within you can also find Saint Vicente's embalmed arm as well as the Holy Grail- supposedly the real thing! Within the Cathedral Museum you'll also find objects of a more common nature such as valuable paintings by Francisco de Goya and a shimmering 2300-kilogram tabernacle featuring gold, silver, and jewels.
Where to experience culture in and around the Cathedral:
-Museo Catedralicio (Cathedral Museum)
-Mercado Central (Central Market)
-Lonja de los Mercaderes (Merchants' Market)