Tourism in Valencia's Cathedral Neighborhood

Highlights:
  • Cathedral (Cathedral) & Miguelete (Tower)
  • Plaza de la Reina (Queen's Plaza)
  • Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados (Basilica of Our Lady of the Unprotected)
  • Palau de la Generalitat (Center of the Valencian Autonomous Community)
  • Lonja de los Mercaderes (Silk or Merchants Exchange)
  • Iglesia de Santo Domingo (Church of Saint Domingo)
  • Palacio-Monasterio del Temple (Palace-Monastery of the Templar)
  • Cripta de la Cárcel de San Vicente Mártir (Crypt of the Prison of Saint Vicente the Martyr)

Between stunning plazas, ecclesiastical buildings, centuries-old markets and, naturally, the cathedral itself, Valencia's Cathedral district boasts an eclectic mix of things to see. Here is just a brief run-down of a few Cathedral quarter highlights, but it's certainly not all!

Starting out with the Cathedral serves as a great introduction to the area. Serving as a kind of microcosm of Valencia's architectural history, the cathedral has bits and pieces of it all. The Puerta de Palau, the Cathedral's entrance on the Plaza de la Virgen, is Romanesque, the tower as well as the Puerta de los Apóstoles are examples of Gothic architecture, Renaissance chapels can be found within, and the main entrance to the Cathedral on the Plaza de la Reina is pure Baroque.

Within the church is a whole new set of things to see- some of a rather unique variety! Check out the Holy Grail- supposedly the real thing- in the Gothic Capilla del Santo Cáliz (Chapel of the Holy Chalice), Francisco de Goya paintings and Saint Vicente's arm- yes, his arm- in the Cathedral museum, or climb the 207 steps of the dizzying spiral staircase to the top of the Miguelete (the Cathedral's unfinished 14th-15th century tower) for the birds' eye view of the city below!

Just across the Plaza de la Virgen from the Cathedral is the Baroque Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados. Dedicated to one of the two patrons of the city, within the 17th century structure you'll find fascinating frescoes as well as thousands of candles that are constantly lit in front of the image of the Virgin.

The Palau de la Generalitat Valenciano is the seat of the Valencian autonomous government, not to mention a stunning architectural structure worth a look or two! Dating back to 1510, a tour inside- you have to make an appointment to do so, but it's definitely worth it- will wow you with beautiful frescoes and elaborate ceiling paintings. If you didn't think ahead to make an appointment, you can still check out its delightful courtyard throughout the week... sans appointment.

One of the city's most emblematic buildings as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the incredible Lonja de los Mercaderes. La Lonja is considered to be one of Europe's best examples of European civil Gothic architecture- you'll easily see why. Looking exactly as a medieval castle- at least in our minds- is meant to look, the exterior features battlements, gargoyles and even a tower in which Rapunzel could have very well been kept!

Of the four parts comprising La Lonja's interior, the highlights are the so-called Column Room and the Sala de Contratación (Trading Room). The Column Room is a spectacular area covered by vaults that are raised a stunning 16 meters upon the slender spiral columns. The Sala de Contratación, where the commerce and paper-signing took place, effectively demonstrates the power and affluency of a major Mediterranean mercantile city during Spain's golden age of sea trade.

Finally, be sure to make a stop at the Cripta de la Cárcel de San Vicente Mártir (Crypt of the Prison of Saint Vicente the Martyr) for a major blast to the past. Beneath the Church of Saint Vicente, which was later re-constructed after the 13th century Spanish reconquista, is the archaeological site of this Visigoth chapel by the same name.

Once used as a prison- hence the name- for Spanish saint and Valencian city patron Saint Vicente in the days leading to his rather violent martyrdom back in 304 A.D., the crypt now serves not only as a legacy of Saint Vicente and the city's Visigoth past but also as a valuable exhibition of objects related to the crypt. Take a surprisingly interesting audiovisual journey through Valencian history and check out complementing ancient objects like Roman mural paintings, Visigoth altars and partitions, Muslim artifacts and a sculpure of Saint Vicente the Martyr.