miércoles, 11 de septiembre de 2013

Natural Heritage of Valencia and Valencian Community: A Visit to "Les Agulles de Santa Agueda", Benicasim and castellon, Official Tourist guided Visits.

This summer we had the opportunity to guide a mountain group to "Agulles of St. Agatha" in the natural park of Desierto de las Palmas.

 The amazing surprise come early for everybody because of its micro-reserve of Mediterranean flora from one side, to the other for the most remarkable religious past about the presence of the order of Carmel since ancient times with poetical names. As the word "desert" which alludes to the soul in mystical language struggling to meet God in solitary places for praying, known as hermitages in the mountain. And the last reason because of the mixture of pink and grey stones that gives to it an special colour during the dawn break and sunset with splendid overviews of the Mediterranean Sea from this natural Platform
Bahía de Benicassim desde el Bartolo

The name of the highest peak, "bartolo" (729mt) owes its name to the brother Bartolomé. One of the most famous monks who lived here, of which it is said he used to enjoy during springtime the landscape at the top and have a nap or siesta.The second important formation are Santa Águeda needles"with its pinkish and reddish forms that give a particular ghost charm by its presence next to the intense blue of the sea and the soft green of the palms and Mediterranean plants. This pink-colour formation comes from the Triassic, about 250 million years ago, as a conglomerate of Red stones (rodeno) resting on grey slates. Its pyramid shapes, pointed cusps and angled slopes formed by Triassic red and pink sandstones makes them so striking and responsible for its name of Agulles (spires).

Pink finger-like agulles

Organ-tube agulles

The name Santa Agueda was not given by a geologist but by an imaginative carmelite order religious man who lived once in the area. Santa Águeda was a martyr of Catania, in Sicily, in the first centuries of Christianity, in the mountains of Sicily. He was born in Palermo towards 230aD, a fervent Christian with whom he felt in love Quintian, Governor of Sicily. Agueda fled to Catania but Quintilian captured her and applied the torment in her body. Among the instruments needles were used to destroy the breast of the poor Virgin. San Peter appeared in her cell in jail to heal her. But she finally died February 5h of the year 251. According to some witness Etna volcano erupted one year later at the same day. In the vicinity of les Agulles is located an Hermitage in honour of two feminine saints, the hermitage of Les Santes,dedicated to Santa Lucia and Santa Agatha,restored in 1617 by the bishop of Cabanes, a nearly town.. 
Hermitage of Les Santes

 It was a priest of Cabanes, who recommended the Carmelite order to found in the desert of las Palmas around 1698. Saint Lucia is the patroness of a healthy sight and Agatha, a patroness and advocate of women. Some festivals area dedicated to St. Agatha in the Iberian Peninsula confirming her role as defender against any abuse concerning gender equality, as in Castile where ladies are given the batons for a day.

We finish this blog talking about the origins of such curiosity name as Agulles of Santa Agueda Spires of Saint Agatha). Twin chest-shaped mountains are common in the Iberian Peninsula. In this case, should it be a religious member who baptized them as dedicated mountains to Saint Agatha to relate them to the nearby Hermitage. And the form of "needles" of course remind us the instruments of torment with which Sicilian executioners wanted to deprive the santa of her feminity. If we look from the agulles to the Bartolo's mountain we can observe that the peak recalls as the head of the Virgin while the needles should look like a body lying down towards the calmed waters of the Mediterranean sea while receiving her martyrdom.    

The big spire

Smaller spire formations

The Monte Bartolo, 200 meters high, gives us amazing views around the 180 km of the Valencian Gulf from the river Ebro mouth at north mouth to the Montgo mountain at Javea to the south . In front of us the silhouette of Columbretes Islands. Behind us the first Hermitage ruins and the current Carmelite convent. A joy for the senses. A real trip to cultural Valencia and Castellon.

Roman arch at Via Augusta

Jose Vicente Niclos
Tourist Official Guide, Pt. Of Apit

Vicente Sos Babyat, El valle de Miravet y “Les Agulles de Santa Agueda” (sep. Del Boletín de la Sociedad Castellonense de Cultura t. xxxv e. octubre -Diciembre 1959.

jueves, 1 de agosto de 2013

Valencian Cultural Heritage: Borgia's family and a Chapel in valencian Cathedral

During the month of July a group of Official Tourist Guide of Valencia and valencian Community (Apit) had the opportunity to attend a guided tour of the Chapel of San Pedro recently restored, at the cathedral of Valencia,. The guided tour was led by D. Jaime Sancho, Canon and responsible of the artistic heritage of the cathedral.

D. Jaime stressed the importance of visiting this chapel from next September out  as an added element of value of the Cathedral. The oldest part of it is the cast iron and golden grate done in the second half of the fifteenth century, namely the year 1467 by Juan Pons, with the dedication to the Supreme Shepherd of the Church, Peter, Pastor Ovium, Princeps Apostolorum (You are the shepherd of the sheep, the Prince of the Apostles).

Iron Grate, you are the Sepherd

The most valuable items were the frescoes of Antonio Palomino (late seventeenth century) depicting scenes from the life of the Apostle Peter. The paintings of the wall facing the entrance closed other times the doors of the Renaissance organ and were painted by Nicholas Falco early sixteenth century artist, representing scenes from the life of virgin Mary.
Saint Peter's Martyrdom

Former Renaissance Organ Paintings

The stucco decoration in the upper band had a symbolic meaning referring to the spiritual fruitfulness of the soul by means of horns of abundance, poppies and lilies. The canon Sivera Sanchis, before the civil war, described this part as a hemispherical dome topped with flashlight. The whole chapel suffered major damage during the spanish civil war with a devastating fire effect (1936). Now beautifully restored it is illuminated by a Murano lamp with a superb lighting.

Chapel as a Museum during Franco's Period (1940)
Illuminated Dome Perspective

The chapel can be visited and will  also function as a conference center for followers of ecclesiastical art and culture ·

The title of Sixtine chapel of the Cathedral, which gave some past historians seems a little exagerated, but interesting. It was at that time when Rodrigo de Borgia, Bishop of Valencia was responsible for its foundation. The Valencian chapel program was dedicated to the figure of St. Peter perhaps anticipating that one day the founder himself woulb be elevated to the chair of St. Peter.

The first occupant of the Chair of Peter born in Valencia was Alfonso de Borja as Calixtus III, who soon appointed his nephew as Bishop of Valencia, Cardinal Deacon, dean of the College of Cardinals and vice-chancellor of the Church Romana. Rodrigo studiedt at the University of Bologna, where he got a doctorate in law on August 1456
Rodrigo de Borja (Alexander VI)

After beeing appointed bishop of Valencia he took possession of the diocese on July 1458. He returned to Valencia as apostolic legate in 1471. The splendor of his coming around 1457 is described at the novelized biography by Joan Francesc Mira around 1472:

"In the middle of June after a month of traveling by sea we saw the shore of Valencia, twenty-three years after, whence a young law student embarked for Rome. Called by an old uncle, like so many other teenagers who leave their country in search of fortune by means of weapons or church positions, but very few got back, as I was now returning, full of fortune. I waited for two or three days at the Monastery of “El Puig” to order my entourage and complete my retinue and a morning full of light the city welcomed me with more success than a real king, an entry with an entourage larger than that of an ancient monarch, invested with such authority as a Roman pontiff. Now the victory was for me, I was the prince arrived at that door with an entourage that this “Serranos “ Gate had never contemplated in Valencia ... Before me were hundred men well dressed and my white horse was the only sign of sovereign dignity: the way to the Seo (Cathedral) is short but it took very long because of the entire population of Valencia on our way, wishing to contemplate that great son of the noble house, the Cardinal Borja who came from Rome with the splendor of a pope, the air was full of petals and flowers as a cloud that well-dressed women from balconies and windows launched on mi way"(JF.Mira, p. 148ss).

Jose Vicente Niclos


 Joan F. Mira, Borja Papa, Valencia, 2007

Valencia, Revista de la Catedral, No. 6, 2011.

Thank you for choosing Valencia. Pay a visit to our Land.

 Itineris Club


viernes, 19 de julio de 2013

Cultural River Turia Park: The island of Museums: Benlliure's House, music, poetry and color

We'll present in next deliveries some issues about the island of Museums of Valencia, somehow a cultural strip on boths sides of the Turia River Park with dedicated to fine arts of the modernist period, contemporary and avandgard. Also are to be considered the museums and cultural halls of the botanical garden of the city, near Torres de Quart and Corpus Museum next to the towers of Serranos.
First of all, coming from the north do we find the Ivam, or institute of Modern Art's with a permanent collection of the social and genre painter Ignacio Pinazo of modernist style, and the scultures Colection of the Catalan artist Julio Gonzalez. Besides it is worth to visit the Art's Center of El Carmen with temporary exhibitions devoted to various topics, such as portrait, the eighteenth-century political life and several schools of painting.

Beyond we find the Museum of Jose Benlliure, and across the bed of the Turia San Pio V Museum of Fine Arts Academy.

On Sunday we visited the house just behind this Carmen Center where lies the Museum-House of José Benlliure on a family tour. Jose Benlliure was another Valencian genre painter, born into a family of artists, in the Cabanyal. His style reflects both simple and grandiose themes but everyone represent a witness about the social life of XIXth Century

J. Benlliure, Lonja of Valencia
Benlliure, pescador del Cabanyal reparando las redes


Crossing the threshold of the house, one rests surprised of the beauty of the building and even more surprising because of the conservation status, despite the changes in the city over the past two centuries. The building was designed in 1880 by Vicente Miguel and Viñuelas, and conceived as a typical middle-class house for a wealthy family at the time: ground floor with visitors room and dining room, main floor with veranda and garden or “patio's” views, second floor for renting and an attic for the service. In the upper floor you can see paintings, ceramics, sculptures and drawings of the Benlliure brothers, and some sample of joaquin Sorolla , Muñoz Degrain and other illustrious artists.

The garden offers a unique space, a very beautiful style garden or "patio" with coastal trees such as pines, cypress, laurels, orange trees and, Mediterranean plants and geraniums, jasmine and linden trees in the arrangement of a beautiful flower bedline and pavillions, according to the distribution of private gardens Valencia. Finnally a mix where the fountain with its water games focused the roundabout towards a center where light converges, as an arabic heritage, cypresses and parterres own their charm to Renaissance gardens to which we must add the sculptural motifs and the local pottery Valencian tradition.

Another example of neoclassical type is present in the Sorolla House Museum in Madrid, with its parterres and white roses that inspired his art, as a symbol of white dressed beautiful women walking along the beach of Malvarrosa at the sunset hur. Sorolla also got a workshop or studio at the end of the courtyard.

Parterre con juegos de luz

Cocina de cerámica

Fuente en la glorieta


At the end of the Museum-House is located the studio of the painter José Benlliure with excellent lighting and magnificent views to the garden of the inspiring Muses, as living creatures of the landscape from this urban manner House. The house at his time connected to the ancient Carmen Convent, where the Headquarters of the Academy of Fine Arts San Fernando were located.

lectura al atardecer

In the studio you can see sketches of works, portraits and modernist landscapes, such as this reading female group, an evening family session surrounded by a floral atmosphere.

Rosas Blancas del Jardín, 



Jardín de Joaquín Sorolla en su casa de Madrid.

Thank you for choising Valencia, Itineris

miércoles, 26 de junio de 2013

A visit to Valencia Huerta, Fertile Land Surroundings, paella festival

To get across the fertile land and vegetable patchs north of Valencia, huerta, is a pure delight for the senses as we got experience recently leading as a Tourist guide the Vera group.
This land, known as Cabanyal, is located close to the well known Poltyechnical University, and can be designed as our "garden of Valencia" at a threw of stone, That's the title of a recent TV program, where the news reader described this landscape as one of the most fertile soils in the world, with an irrigation system that keeps going on since its beginning in medieval times and some farmhouses known as “alquerías”, representing at all an example of coexistence between cultures and with nature. As stated by Carl Steinitz, professor of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University, it should be a unique space in the world but also one of the few of its value without a uniform and constant planning management.
                                                            Huerta of Valencia                Typical Barraca
In the eastside, we remark some heritage as the canal or water-ditch of Vera and the Catholic hermitage of Notre Dame of Vera. The group prepared and enjoy a full taste traditional paella in one of the farmhouses, the Carmen House.
 Carmen Farmhouse                            Vera Eremitory

Besides is located The Mariluz Farm, next to ours, where it is offered affordable menus for visitors, with the opportunity to share a landscape that scholars and students compare with that of France. Also in the garden of Alboraya can on pick up those vegetables that enter in the paella receipt and the valencian salad and enjoy in their own place the local production, as tasting a traditional “horchata” drink .

In the neighboring Cabanyal district, we can mention, the French botanist and adventure Felix Robillard, which led to the first integration between landscape and agricultural industry, an industry related also with flowers, herbs and perfume. Crossing the “Cabanyal”, at the half of the nineteenth century was a sort of adventure because of its vegetation that looked like a swamp, whose barriers were saved by boat. The area was a marsh. This happened until the Frenchman Felix Robillard bought 361,526 meters square of land with the idea of ​​rehabilitating the area. The gardener and botanist dried out the ground and used for this purpose several plant species, including large amounts of "geranium odoratissimun" the popular Malvarrosa. Robillard divided his property into three main areas: his house at San Rafael, the essences factory, next to it the area where species were planted for making oils, perfumes, and soap.
his Venture has today a square dedicated to his name where oncce stood the family house with 22 rooms and a garden of 6848 meters, according to the the researcher and writer Antonio Sanchis in his book on “Malvarrosa” . This factory was the first of this essences established in Spain and the first of toilet soaps and perfumery established in Valencia.
Next to the shrine of Vera, we further observe a property known as  Hort dels Misteris. The name “pass” well to the environment since then from childhood we were surprised of that very mistery dense of palm trees vegetation surrounded by a high wall and that farmhouse at the background you could barely imagine all sorts of ghosts or crimes inside. The farmstead is now known as Robillard, residing there several descendants of the French gardener, including a great-grandson. They bought the manor 25 years because it resemble to that of their predecessor. 
                                       Robillard's Manor Entrance
The farmhouse was built by the manufacturer Vicente Tatay Mandingorra. The designer of the garden was his son Francisco Garrido. The Priest, Father Luis Fullana, who had a good relationship with Tatay, wrote in there most of his works about valencian language and celebrated Mass in that chapel that no longer exists.
 Hort dels Misteris con sus palmeras

lunes, 3 de junio de 2013

Valencia Seashore and the Constant Gardener

The tour guides often approach to the harbor of Valencia to teach foreigners about our Gastronmy, Valencian Paella and stories from the past of Valencia. We like to remember them the source of our most popular beach and the person who was responsible of its naming.
Inicio de la pesca en Malvarrosa
Regreso al atardecer

It was a person named Felix Robillard. He came from France and was a reknown botanist who settled in Valencia in mid-nineteenth century and could be called the Constant Gardener, becaus of his constant working on behalf of the city.
This botanist begun its illustrious career at the "Jardin des Plantes" in Paris. He went on to become the head gardener at the “Champs Elysees”. In 1848 he moved to Valencia where he was designate "Gardener" of the local botanical garden. Later settled in present Malvarrosa district. La Malvarrosa was at that time a marshy land that Robillard patiently dried in order to plant several aromatic herbs. He devoted his time to cataloging our Mediterranean plants, more than 60,000 plant species and the modernization of agriculture in Valencia.
 In industry he specialized in the cultivation of a variety of geranium, "Pelargonium capitatum", a plant native of Green Cape at South Africa, commonly known as “malvarosa”". 
Mata de malvarrosas
Flor de la malvarrosa

The seedling will later name this popular waterfront district. Robillard pressed this flowers to achieve their oils and essences in a modern perfumes production plant. These essences were presented at the London Exhibition of 1862 and that of Paris in 1867, gaining an international recognition.
It was the most illustrious son of this former fishermen village, with the famous local writer Vicente Blasco Ibanez, who had his residence beside the beach in the early twentieth century.
Balneario de las Arenas, comienzos siglo XX
Jóvenes años 20 disfrutando del balneario

By that time Malvarrosa beach became a major social center and meeting point of Valencian society, famous for its spas and thermal waters imitated from France.
Currently the main spas resort was transformed into a luxury hotel and the beach was improved with its wide promenade also extended by the recent "The Patacona Beach".
Actual Paseo de la Playa de la Malvarrosa, homenaje a la pesca tradicional

To remember is to recreate the passed time.

jueves, 16 de mayo de 2013

Ranera- Peak Tour

The Valencian Community is not only an extensive coastline with sandy beaches and cristal water gulfs but also boasts of beautiful mountain scenery inside. This time, the montain group FED visited the Pico- Ranera, and in the mountains of Cuenca, at the limit with Utiel. Splendid views worth of a visit.
The climb up to its some 1400 meters took us around one hour and a half by the south-east line.
Ranera Peak top woth amazing Stone-labs as overview marks or "Talayuelas"

Pico Ranera at its top has a plenty of beautiful stone slabs from hence one can stand as an a plen. Hence come the spanish ancient name Talayuelas from “atalaya”, sight-point.

Vistas de vértigo

At the top of the mountain, a clear day of May, we enjoied splendid views of the capricious open slate blocks into the abyss, and the grotesque shapes of centenary white pines.
Some views of vertigo.
Our eyes discovered to the northeast Javalambre and the valley that opens up Guadalaviar River through the city of Teruel, in the background, to the north the Sierra de Albarracín with, and westwards could we glimpse the mountains of Cuenca while to the south, Benageber reservoir, near Líria.
Geodesic apex

We shared a tasty lunch of tapas: cheese and country ham, washed down with red loca Bobal wine from Utiel area.
Greeting other climbers with our Mountain guide, Paco of Ademuz
El descenso por un bosque de vino rodeno nos llevó hacia la resinera que pretende recuperar el uso artesanal de este derivado de los pinos para barnices de uso industrial

The descent through a forest of red Pines took us back to a restaured resine factory, traditional working of the mountain farmers, whoe make use of this derivative of pine for varnishes in furniture industrial.
Leaded up by our mountain guide, Paco de Ademuz, we enjoyed a pleasant day we invite you to share.

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miércoles, 15 de mayo de 2013

An orange Around the World

Did you know where does it come from the name “orange” and other curiosities of Valencia?

The name “orange” comes from the old Provencal auranja meaning "golden color-like", which results in Spanish naranja. The term would come from Indian languages like Sanskrit which contains the prefix naru/nari which in the sense of “fragrant”. Then golden-color and fragant-smell are the two most important qualities of this exotic fruit. In German, another name is "Chinish apple" (Apfelsinne). Oranges were known in the Middle Ages since they came from Persia and bitter- orange ornamented gardens and patios of Andalusian style. In the fifteenth century sailors brought the first sweet orange to Portugal and Spain around 1560. It came first from India to african lands as Mombasa (Kenya). Were they small varieties such as tangerine or mandarine?

                                        Orange production in the world, 2010
The truth is that in Valencia, specifically Carcaixent tradition exists according to which around 1781 the priest Vincent Monzo begun to dedicate dry-land to cultivate the first commercial orange fields. He had tasted first the oranges from the nearby closter of a Dominican sisters convent and liked the taste. That same year he asked the the pharmacist Jacinto Bodi to bring back some small Lemon Tress from Murcia in order to make a graft of tangerines on them., of neighboring Murcia feet of sweet orange grafted lemon. This day was to born the sweet big orange of an appreciable size. The notary of the town Carlos Maseres, join the venture, and create the conditions for exploitation in irrigated lands and the basis for export through the port of Denia, Gandia and Valencia to northern Europe, as well as by railroad since 1855.
The orange and the Mediterranean diet
The best known varieties begin in Seville and Valencia, with tangerine and clementine, follow with the Navel, Navelina and Sanguine crops and end by June in Valencia itself with the variety Late (or Navel-Late).
The most recognized variety because its flavor is the Navel orange. Its origin is worth a look back to History. The Spanish and Portuguese navigators from the sixteenth century carried the Orange to South America. Three centuries later, in 1820, in another monastery, this time in Brazil, there was a second mutation resulting in the "orange-navel", whose main feature was that at the base of the fruit, just to the other side of the peduncle , a small atrophied orange that resembles a navel appeared. The Brazilian monastery became a source of continuous cuttings because otherwise there was no genetic variation at the tree. Next was developed a new one, called "naveline" with a crust easy to peel and the aforementioned "navelate". 
                                                                                   Navel Orange

Carcaixent, Algemesí and Alzira, the river Xuquer Bank (“Ribera alta) offer top quality oranges of this kind.

With regard to its marketing should be mentioned that as well as in Andalucía some British families reamined after the war against Napoleon, as those names like “Osborne” and “Domec”. In Valencia the same happened with other families, some of Irish origin, as the “Trenor” one, who engaged in the export of this “golden fruit”, obtained large tracts of land and and ascended in social status getting wuch titles as “Marquis”. They finnally bought a well-known monastery of name “San Jerónimo de Cotalba”, protected in past times by the Borjas Family.
Orange also has been the subject of artistic designs around the world to show how nice and tasteful orange circles the world.

Small Orange-Snake

                                                        Orange designed by a Mexican artist

Finally at our tour around this region, we made a short stop at the “Huerto de Maseres” and -why not?- at an splendid lunch at the leisure area surrounding the Garden of Soriano. Is it not like an italian Tuscany in Valencia?

                  "Hort de Soriano"                                      "Hort de Masseres"

Overview on the "soriano" valley

Thousands of foreigners visit this land why don't you?