After James I of Aragon had taken Valencia in 1238, Gothic churches and monasteries were built in Valencia and all along the coast. Almost all these buildings were later altered in the baroque style and thereby frequently disfigured, This fact also applies in part to Valencia cathedral. In 1262 the foundation stone was laid for the building, on whose site there had previously stood a Roman temple of Diana,a Visigoth church and after this a mosque.

Table of Contents - Valencia Cathedral

Is it worth visiting the Cathedral in Valencia?

This is for sure not one of Spain´s most beautiful Cathedrals but it has a few highlights which make it unique and which would not want to miss. Nothings less that the holy grial is meant to be at Valencia Cathedral! Not bad if you would like to feel like Indiana Jones for a moment. 

The 2 towers (the Miguelete and the Cimborrio) are also unique. The Cimborrio can only be really admired inside and we are sure you will not regret your visit. It is simply amazing!

You will also have a chance to get to the top of the Miguelete tower to enjoy one of the best views of Valencia!

Plan your visit to the cathedral

It is easy to arrive to the Cathedral using public transport (you can get close to the Cathedral from nearly all metro lanes) .

You can visit the Cathedral, or the cathedral plus museum, or also add the Miguelete tower (207 steps to get to the 50 meters of height at the top to enjoy views from the terrace in the Miguelete tower and 65 meters to the Espadaña at the very top).  Despite 207 steps does not seem like a big deal, please bear in mind they are very large steps and that much more tiring than standards stairs. We recommend to stop every 5 minutes to enjoy the views and, while you do it, question yourself about the excellent shape of the bell-ringers during that used to climb them 6 times each day!

Best tour to enjoy Valencia Cathedral

This a very good option to visit with a local expert and enjoy details and secret stories about the history of the Csathedral of Valencia. It is great value for money.

Portals – Outside the cathedral

The Cathedral has 3 portals and out of them, the late Romanesque Puerta de Palau in the East transept is the oldest (13 Century). With its beautiful archivolts and  delicate ornaments, it belongs to the first phase of building and clearly shows Catalan influence.

The Puerta de los Apóstoles in the Western transept is part of the Gothic phase of construction, which ended in the 15C. The portal is decorated with numerous statues, including six Apostles under tabernacles and, in the tympanum, the Virgin with musicians and angels. Above the portal there is a rose-window with magnifcent tracery. In accordance with an old custom, which is said to go back to the time of the Moors, the Tribunal de las Aguas (“Tribunal of the Waters’) meets each Thursday at noon sharp in front of this portal. The Tribunal meets when noon time is announced from the Miguelete (the famous bell tower of the cathedral). The tribunal settles disputes arising from the distribution of water in the Huerta. No appeal is possible against the decision reached by the judges, who are themselves peasants.

The main entrance, an 18C baroque portal, is on the South side of the cathedral. It is also called the Puerta de Hierros, because of the grille which closes the portal forecourt. It is actually a three-storeyed façade and portal. Narrow and concave in form, it is the work of the German artist Konrad Rudolf, a pupil of Bernini, and was completed by Ignacio Vergara, who was also responsible for the statues. The top storey of the magnificent façade bears an Assumption of the Virgin.

The cathedral’s free-standing octagonal bell tower, known as Miguelete or Micalet, stands beside and to the left of the baroque portal. This sturdy tower, 223 ft. high (built 1380 – 1420), is the landmark of Valencia. Above the three undecorated storeys of red brick is a fourth storey with 8 windows, crowned with Gothic style. 

The bell, hung in the bellcote (a later addition), formerly regulated the irrigation of the Huerta. From here there is a fine view of Valencia, the Huerta and the sea.

Why is Valencia cathedral famous?

There are 4 main reasons why the Cathedral is famous. 

  1. The holy grail (mentioned already before)
  2. The Miguelete. This tower is the symbol of Valencia and it offers breath-taking views of the city
  3. The Tribunal de Aguas. Valencia is famous for having the best orchards in Spain. With orchards water problems may arise. The water tribunal gathers every week next to the cathedral for centuries!
  4. The Cimborrio. This octagonal tower in flamboyant style if unique in Spain.

Inside the cathedral of Valencia

The Cimborrio, the octagonal tower above the crossing, is in Flamboyant style. The eight tracery windows are incomparably beautiful. The cathedral displays Renaissance elements in addition to the Gothic and the baroque. The two-storeyed round gallery surrounding the choir apse is in Renaissance style. The interior of the cathedral was altered in baroque style and is somewhat excessive. The length of the nave is 322 ft. and that of the transept is 177 ft. The crossing contains the monumental high altar with its pillars and baldacchino. The twelve panel paintings on the enormous altar wings date from the early 16C and show scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary. They are the work of Hernando Yáñez de la Almedina and Hernando Llanos, who were both influenced by Leonardo da Vinci.

The cimborrio has retained its Gothic structure, and is much more impressive when seen from inside the church. The Capilla del Santo Cáliz (Chapel of the Holy Chalice) is also Gothic.

Tradition has it that Christ’s chalice at the Last Supper is preserved here. After being brought to Rome by St.Peter, it is said to have come to Huesca two and a half centuries later during the persecution of the Christians under Emperor Valerius. During the period of Moorish rule, the chalice was in the monastery of San Juan de la Peña and finally, after some further travels, came into the possession of the cathedral of Valencia. The chalice, a bowl set with precious stones and pearls, is borne through the streets of Valencia in a solemn procession on Maundy Thursday. The chapel where the Holy Chalice is preserved dates from the 14C and has a splendid stellar vault and twelve alabastér reliefs showing scenes from the Old and New Testaments by the Florentine master Giuliano (early 15C).

 

This church is by no means uniform in style. However, the cathedral itself and its various associated buildings contain a number of important works of art, including some by famous painters e.g. Ribera (Adoration of the Shepherds), Ribalta,

Macip (Baptism of Christ), Nicolás Florentino (Adoration of the Magi, 1469) and there are 2 paintings from Goya  with episodes from the life of St. Francis Borgia.

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