Wherever I went during my brief visit to Valencia, I was reminded of the significance of water in the history of the city. The cultivated plains (huertas) outside the city depend on an irrigation system established in the 8th century. This is so vital to the prosperity of the area that a special Water Court (Tribunal de las Aguas) meets weekly to settle disputes between the farmers of the huertas. Every Thursday for more than a thousand years, this court, made up of eight elected farmers, has met outside the cathedral. Often they meet simply to announce that there is no business but it is a great tourist attraction.
The architecture of Valencia is stunning but I will limit myself to pictures of a few of the many fountains I saw as I walked around:
The river Turia used to run through the city but it often flooded with disastrous results. After a particularly devastating flood in 1957, the city authorities decided to divert the river three kilometres towards the south. This massive project began in 1964 and was completed in 1973. The 10 kilometres of dry riverbed have been developed as parks, gardens, play areas and sports arenas. I was particularly fascinated by the bridges which can now be seen in their full splendour, no longer half below water. Here are just a few of the many:
Everything in Valencia is done on a grand scale and two of the latest bold projects involve water. First, the City of Arts and Science, is a series of museums designed by Santiago Calatrava. My pictures show the Oceanographic Park, L'Hemispheric (an enormous Imax) and the Museum of Science.
The opera house is also in this complex but I can't locate the photos I took so I'll keep those for another post, along with pictures of the Marina Real.