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My day, in other people's pictures

Well, that was my plan, at least. I figured, ok, so I don't have a camera, but I spent the day visiting sites of national historic importance! Surely other people, people with much better equipment, people with special access, will have taken much better photos for me to show everyone.

This does not really seem to be the case. Not that I put an enormous amount of effort into trolling the internet, you can if you want to.

Since I am apparently living in the baroque section of the old city, I decided to embrace it, even though, as I've said before, it's not really my thing. Still, what baroque lack in taste, it certainly makes up for it by shock and awe.

An organization in Valencia called La Luz de las Imagenes (see if the webpage displays better for you, the size never worked out on my netbook) that specializes in splashy expensive restoration projects has done an amazing amount of work on three churches in Valencia as well as something like 300 associated pieces of art, which were then presented at the three churches, plus an exhibition space. As part of the exhibition they also do a lot of public education stuff and had a pile of publications relating to restoration. All in all, pretty admirable stuff, regardless of your philosophy regarding restoration v. conservation etc etc.

So for only 3 euros, I spent the day following a white painted baroque design on the streets from church to church, with liberal breaks in between (because one can only take so much of this stuff, really). Pretty freaking impressive. I think I literally saw tons of gold gilt today, and several thousand cherubs. Cherub heads (freaky), headless cherubs (also freaky), bearded cherubs (the freakiest of all), cherub demons...you name it. Still, the exhibition was put together very well, so that each site focused on a particular medium (one church was paintings, another was vestments and manuscripts, another had mostly tile and, um, all those various metal religious accoutrements that I don't really understand.

Mostly I was there to learn about the restorations they had done--I love the before and after pictures of paintings and sculptures, etc. One of the very coolest things they had was in one church they had left up the scaffolding used to reach the highest parts of the main altar and dome above it. You could climb up and view up close the highest parts of the church, that usually you have to crane and squint even to make out the basics. That was freakin' awesome. I wish more cathedrals did this, even just for a week a year. Admittedly, the scaffolding blocks everything down below, but it's still an amazing experience to see things as close as the artist might have. This would have been cool in Ravenna.

In between cherubs and gold gilt, I meandered through the Mercat Central/Mercado Central. This is one of my favorite places in Valencia. It is sort of an indoor market, in that there is a roof and a building with doors that lock, but the windows are all open to the outside, and it is no way a "sealed' building, so you still have the feel of an open air market. The building is 1914ish and has all the lovely wrought iron work and shaped windows and tiles that make you think of late Victorian greenhouses and train stations. The tiles are pure Valencia though, with the Islamic influence and the blue and yellows (which are actually more of an Italian influence, but that's thesis stuff and we won't go there today). Inside there are permanent market stalls that the sellers come to during market hours. I think it might be open before siesta during the week, but Saturday is by far the best day. It is a tourist destination, but at the same time filled with Spaniards getting their groceries. There is everything from fresh fruits and veggies, to all meats, cured meets, cheeses, bakeries, pasta, some pharmacies, herb stalls, leather stalls, etc. though it is mostly a fresh food oriented market. It smells wonderful in a way that only markets smell, and I always love strolling through, getting shoved out of the way by Spanish dowagers with their shopping buggies, watching kids play in the dry fountains. If I had a kitchen I would have shopped some.

Let's see, I also went to the Lonja de la Seda which is across the street from the market. There isn't very much interpretation in the building itself but that was kinda nice, actually. Plus, the Gothic architecture felt like a relief in between all that Baroque. I like all the little details, too. The little monsters and people intwinned in the carved vines, etc. There is a perfectly lovely little courtyard with orange trees inside, and you can sit on a stone window bench and look down on the street below. there is a second hand clothes store there called 'La Moda me Incomoda' (Fashion makes me uncomfortable) which amused me.

That about sums up my internet worthy activities.

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February 2010
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