martes, 16 de octubre de 2012

Visit to the Medieval Jews District of Valencia, Spain

Valencian Medieval Jewish District: The Jewish Valencia is an unknown for many people so that we I will propose you today this detailed itinerary across the jewish ghetto about 1390 BC-
The name for Jewish Ghetto in local language was jueria and officially was called the Call to some coming from qahal legal community, to other from Latin Callis, the "street".
The extent of Jewish district Valencia matched the parish of Santo Tomás around 1240 and its expansion in 1390 with San Andrés Parish church.
We begin our tour of the call walking along r the expansion of 1390, highlighted in blue color on map

Wall. Inside the cloister of the ancient University, in the way toward the history library, one can see see on the ground some houses beneath the Christian wall canvas from the time of Pedro el Ceremonioso, King of Aragon, from 1356 around. The Jewish quarter of that time contained the expansion of the ancient settlement by population growth or new families coming in the fourteenth century.
According to the some historians close to the later Palacio del Patriarca (Patriarch Palace) stood the synagogue Çamalhesit, perhaps the last synagogue built. The Hebrew word would sound as shem - a (l) - hesed, "The Name of the Pious One" or “compassionate Lord”. The hasidies are the current orthodox in Jerusalem. The synagogue was called in Hebrew Beth-hakeneset, “The House of the Community” and next to it was the Bet-midrash "the" House of Study ".
The walls of the Jewish district bordered the present University and Palace “Marques de Dos Aguas” until reaching the Plaza Margarita Valdaura.  
Margarita De Valdaura and Luis VIves streets

Next to which was the Market or souk, the busiest part of this craftsmanship and hand-working people. The Jews lived devoted to crafts and trade in luxury items and making loans. The craft had been represented by items of inlay, gold and silver. In this souk lived workers engaged in crafts, with artisans dedicated to footwear, textile (tailors, weavers, dyers, metal), paying oft renting for the obrador (Stall). Near here, to the Market square, Jewish merchants were intermediaries in the trade of oriental silks and leather pieces and weapons from Northern Europe. This call was semi-destroyed in the assault on the wall that took place by the summer of 1391, when a priest from Andalucia (archdeacon of Ecija)) made some anti-Semitic sermons in Seville's Cathedral and sparked a wave of antisemitism that lighted the flame of hate at northern Spain, following the destruction of the Call.
Between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the golden age of Valencian culture, three illustrious Jews lived around this site. According to tradition on the edge of the old souk, near Plaza of Margaret of Valdaura, the great humanist Juan Luis Vives (1492-1540). The illustrious Renaissance man studied at the newly founded University of Valencia around 1508 and in Paris from 1509 to 1512 and then moved to Flanders in 1512. Meanwhile, both his father and grandmother in Valencia fell into the hands of the Inquisition. His friendship with Erasmus of Rotterdam led him to teach at the renowned Leuven University, then got a friendship with Thomas More which opened to him the doors of Oxford University. Back in Leuven, Vives tutored many noble persons from the environment of Emperor Charles V and came to consult supporters both of Reformation and Counter-Reformation. His classical thought seeks to give the Prince a harmonious education which will bring peace among states. His theory of education based on the Bible and the Greek classics in a transfer of tradition from master to disciple may have influenced the Essays of Michel de Montaigne. His wife, Margarita of Valdaura born in 1505 in the heart of a wealthy Jewish family, moved to Bruges shortly thereafter, considered an extension of the Crown. Luis Vives was his preceptor when she was only seven years old, and Margarita was his faithful wife and the secretary of this encyclopedic man and secular intellectual model for the time. Also dramatic was the end of another Valencian family of the mid-15th century, the Alcanyis. Lluís Alcanyís was born in Xàtiva and moved to Valencia where he followed medical studies from1467 to 1462, period in which he joins the local cultural life, and highlighting interest in letters and medical research. He was married twice, with Jewish converts women. His second wife, Elionor Esparça gave him four daughters and a young, Francesc, also a doctor. In his teaching as Professor Lluís Alcanyís was medical examiner from 1467 to 1477 and taught surgery until 1487. With the founding of the University of Valencia in 1499 Lluís took the medicine and surgery chair, and between 1500 and 1504 he taught in the chair of "Principles and Practice of Medicine". As a part of this discipline he wrote a treatise against epidemics whose title Regiment contra la Pestilencia shows his concern for the prevention of diseases, due to the recent Valencia plague of 1490. Luis Alcanys along with his wife, Eleanor Esparza, were condemned by the Inquisition to the stake in Valencia.

 Original Map of P. Tosca, of XVIIth Valencia
at St Thomas Church 

Finally Luis de Santángel, born in Valencia the same year than Luis Vives in 1492, was born in a family of converted Jewish who came from Aragon. His grandfather Azariah, was founder of the Jewish community of Daroca, and moved to Valencia for commercial reasons , where he settled nearby the parish of St. Thomas. His son Luis Santángel was enriched through the leasing fees and taxes for the crown to the Genovese community. When he died, his son Luis Santángel Vilamarchant was granted by King Ferdinand of Aragon the printing money supervision from 1479 to 1481 when he was charged with general supervision of Royal Finances. Luis met with a Cristobal Colon discouraged in his projects at 1486 and Santangel intercession was essential for the acceptance of the “Capitulaciones de Santa Fe”, signed by the same Santángel, who advanced part of the sum for the expedition. Columbus himself will write to him the first letter with the relationship of the discovery of the New World. In 1497 Santangel obtained a status of limpieza de sangre (Blood cleaned statute), a privilege that protected him before the Holy Office. Louis died in 1544.
Three such important Louis for so small neighborhood, don't you think?


Hinojosa, José , la judería de Valencia en la Edad Media, Valencia 2007.

Niclós,José Vicente, Tres culturas tres religiones en la Península Ibérica, Salamanca 2012, pp.285-340.
 Rodrigo y Pertegas, José, La judería de Valencia, apéndice a la obra de José Sánchis Sivera, La iglesia parroquial de san Esteban, Valencia 1913, pp.245-267.

Sanz Ruíz, Fernando,“Guía de recorridos históricos de Valencia”, Valencia 2006.

Teixidor de Otto, Mª J.-Boira i Marqués, El entorno urbano de la Universitat, pp. 164-165.

“Un paseo por la judería de Valencia”, Levante-Emt, 28-01-2006

“Los judíos en la Valencia medieval”, Las Provincias, 23-09-2012

"Plano de la judería", Esther Blanco Tamayo (UPV), basado en plano de Rodrigo y Pertegás.


miércoles, 12 de septiembre de 2012

Saturday September 8, 2012 Journal of a bike tour, the day of the triathlon in Valencia, suburban adventure

Out of Valencia in bike into the park of the Albufera represents recovering the the landscape of childhood and also our people, linked to irrigating water and the wetlands
back the futuristic architecture of Santiago Calatrava at the City of Arts and sciences, we ride our minds to the past centuries in history. Three farmhouses around a common courtyard just off the city's perspective 
 reminds us of the great Hebrew or Arab family clans that share the essentials in Mediterranean Lands.

The observation point at Pinedo Beach allows us to observe the rice fields and the green pines of the Meadow innland's, and the blue september sea to the right, with camels-like loaded ships waiting for the download at the Port.

We reach the beach of El Saler where we enter a forest that combines the saline depressions of former wetlands with pine trees wrapped in honeysuckle mantle,

Further away the gorge of El Saler opens and closes its doors, like a giant opens his arms, to grade the level of water in the rice fields that surround the lake.                          

Exhausted Bikes after 15 miles riding seem to look into the sea and likedt to jump into the water as their enthusiastic owners.
The aerial view from the
perspective of a friend's appartment allows us to combine seashore and pine-forest with the prospect of the rice fields and their engines in line, as patients guard-corps.  
Finally, the sun set in the west of the lake will invite us to say some promises as the golden atmosphere purifies our soul.

jueves, 23 de agosto de 2012

The horse and the crop: rice in Valencia for next paella

THE horse and the rice mowing: summer in Valencia.

Summer mowing has been a religious festivity for peoples of the Mediterranean Seashore during thousands of years, with offerings and contests of all kinds about bravery, generosity and gallantry.. The offering of the first fruits of the mowing and harvesting was already regulated in the ancient codes of the Hebrew Bible. Songs, dances, body expression and emulation among young people to conquer maidens and boys was another feature of these festivals of prehistoric times.
We focus this summer on the equestrian competitions of both shores of the Mediterranean Sea. First at the North of Africa, Morocco give us an example. During the harvest of the month of may culminates the harvest of wheat with popular exhibitions of crafts and an increase of human relationships. To the South of Tangier, a few kilometers away from Larache, at the end of may is held a competition of riding horses bareback by young people competing for a doll, as a token of love for a beloved one. The festival takes place as the culmination of the spring and as a symbol of plenty and blossoming of young forces of nature.

We return  to the Middle-South of Spain, to Valencia. To the end of summer and the mowing of another important product in our Mediterranean diet, the rice crop. During the 15th August at Pinedo, at the entrance of the rice fields and Natural Ressorce Albufera Lake, on the golden sand of the Beach at sunset another similar competition of horsemen and horsewomen takes place. The stage is somehow special, to the north the Valencian Port and Sport Marina and the Avandgarditst Komplex of the City of Arts and Sciences, to the west the green rice fields as a no end green meadow. .
The contender fight for the prize, just a tissue or yellow handkerchief (mocador, jóia or jewel).
For some people, the festival dates back to the end of XIXth century and represents the competition between beasts of burden. According to others they compete to test the speed of farm animals. . Analogies with the careers of Morocco allow us to also identify as a feast of the harvest which demonstrates the skills of young people for a prize in the presence of female fans. Only one modern change. Pinedo allows the presence of the Amazons in these challenges between two or three riders, and it is women who now get the best positions, when one thoroughbred ridden by a courteous rider let her by.

jueves, 14 de junio de 2012

Valencia Tours and guided Visits: Surrounding rice fields preparing for paella

A brightly day on past mid-January I and a friendly group visited the paddy fields of the Albufera Valencian Natural Resources.
 Peasants let water flood the future rice-fields, from November until the end of January. It reminds me the natural flooding of the Nile that Herodotus and other classical authors describe and I had the chance to contemplate during my visits to Egypt as a tourist guide. 

Both phenomena represent an opportunity for fertilization of the land by the mud and silt. A friend of mine, peasant and owner of an engine-well in the area, Vicent, describe the agrarian labors during the annual cycle:

"The perellonà means the furrows separating a flooded closed-area (tancat)." The tancat is an area of farmland to a level below the lagoon. On November 1 the gates of the "golas" (gates) connecting the lagoon with the sea become closed. Then, this fields are flooded and receive the mantle of humus and minerals rich soil that allow a new year of fertility, without exhausting the land by intensive agricultural efforts. Additionally, the flood marks the so-called Vedats or hunting areas out, in which hunters chase the migrants birds of the Lake, such as mallards and a variety of ducks. After the withdrawal of the water in the month of February, the fields are drying and peasants begin removing the mud with a little amount of water (fanguejar) or with the plough and work the land during the months of March and April with hooks or tractors.
 Then they return to flood the fields and placed the sacks of rice to soak on the banks of the canals or ditches so rice pre-germine in 24 hours. The next last step is sowing "mixed rice". And the last step is Collecting the rice during the month of September with great festivals and bull-running in many of the towns that have marjal or fields of rice in their region."

As I guide, I have oft noticed the same marvelous process in Egypt. With this difference: the flooding of the fields does not occur in January, but in July, and second, in the Land of Pharaohs it is not an artificial phenomenon according to human mind at work. The Nile is the Lord, whose changing phases affect nature and becomes the creator of a new civilization. It is said that the Greek historian Herodotus (Book II, History) tells first about this fabulous River that flooded the lowlands for one hundred days after the summer solstice. Although to Herodotus attributed, it really was Hecataeus of Miletus who called Egypt "gift of the Nile". The annual flooding of the Nile in July and August always intrigued the Greek wise-men who gave fabulous causes. The truth we know at present is that the increase of Nile volume of flow is produced by the African monsoon that in springtime discharge their waters in the Highlands of Ethiopia. This Variations create an overflowing which results in generous and fecund silt covers on its banks. This determines to get generous crops and free time for creating a new civilization, dependent of the sun which is the soul of it, and water, the nutrient matrix of this life. Without much personal effort of their farmers, as narrates another ancient historian, Diodorus of Sicily, "people, freed from work during the time of the overflow, are dedicated partly to festivals and pleasure”, partly to arts and crafts.
Jose-Vicente Niclós
After our trip trough Albufera natural resource park, as I meditated on those things, we
ride our bikes to the small and only slope of the land ( Muntanyeta dels Sants) to admire the spectacular flooded landscape of Valencia. We visited the adjoining Baldoví Ullal (source), one of the most spectacular springs that provide still water irrigation to the fields of a crystal clear water. We returned to Sueca admiring the spectacular sun-setting over the flooded waters, waiting for the Valencian rice planting.

martes, 17 de abril de 2012

Valencia Tours and guided Visits: East in the West-Arabic Baths

I know one Tourist guide, who had the privilege of being pilgrims-guide in the middle East and returned to Valencia City (Sapain). For him, things of the past awakes back in his heart ancient memories of the common past of arabic times. I am going to submit our readers a tale he told me once:
“Walking through Damascus, during the time of the group purchases at the common Market, I started to wandering through the city Souk and I stopped by chance at the gates of an ancient aribic Bath or Hamman, “Nour Ed-Din” its name, of the 12th century. Still fonctioning at present, I looked carefullyy at his hall in the form of an square andalousian patio ,as men were sitting there and chatting away, a cup of Turkish in their hand and the shisha or oriental pipe at their mouth.
I undress myself and with a simple white towel I pass through different rooms. The hot room where water was taken by me almost boiling with a saucepan and pulled then over the body. Next, in the warm room, I received an exfoliating massage by a specialist of this complex that, not without some scratch, left my skin smooth and soft as that of a child. Finnaly the cold room where I received a relaxing massage by the trainer, who gave me an entertaining arabic conversation, but in an extremely difficult way for me to understand his wise arabic sentences. In the meantime, some of the men present talked among themselves about their business while others seemed concentrated in a deep cleansing of their body, for a holiday or some weekend event.”
As Valencia guide I take some special small groups to the so-called "Arab baths" of the city or “Admiral baths”. It is however a Christian building, built in a piece of land granted by James I in 1313 to the Vilarrasa famimly. The restaured Building, with its quadrangular lobby, gives way to the cold room, with the tub for the reserve of cold water, the room for renting cleaning stuff such as sponges, towels, clogs, soaps and other utensils. And the latrine.
The warm room is the best illuminated by three small domes with eight-pointed stars windows and horseshoe arches. Now covered by soft glass, in its origin came the light through multicolored glass. What effect of hot water, warm, cold, with steamed blurred by some glass irisados in shades of pink and violet. And the hot room where one must walk with clogs and  collect water with buckets from the small hot pool.
The guide tells us that it was a place of socialization, as that one in Damascus that visited my guide-friend. A fine feast for the senses. Jose Vicente Niclos