Valencia, Silk City 2016


Missionaries (and perhaps other merchants) did it before, but we all associate Marco Polo's famous trips as the first commercial trips to Asia, especially in search of those luxury products (silk, spices) that were the object of desire in Europe but ... did you know that part of the history of Valencia is intrinsically linked to silk since many years before and that in the Middle Ages it became so important that the industry came to create up to the Guild of Velluters? We take you today for Valencia, declared Silk City 2016 by UNESCO.

The big question is inevitable, how is it possible that there was silk in Valencia before the Venetian merchant opened the famous trade route to Mongolia and China?

The Silk Road, a little history

No one cheated if I admit that soy passionate about the Silk Road and it remains one of my traveling dreams to fulfill, the classic route from Venice to Chang'an (currently Xi'an) that passed through Persia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Alexandria or Constantinople (now Istanbul) contemplating more than 5,000 km declared World Heritage as any of its variants. Perhaps that is why I have always been attracted in my travels around the world to sit and watch those huge caravans, some abandoned and others converted, in Turkey, Iran or the ill-fated Syria

But the Silk Road goes far beyond the commercial network whose description of Marco Polo's journey leads to its splendor, already during the S.I.C. There were contacts between the Western world and India, or later between Romans and Asian merchants. What is really exciting is that600 years before Marco Polo there was already evidence of the existence of silk in Spain. How can this be?

The explanation, confirmed by the Valencian UNESCO group leaves no room for doubt,the arab caliphates they left in Spain an exciting cultural and architectural wealth but, above all, a heritage of great importance for Valencia ... silk through the African route!

A tour of Valencia, Silk City 2016

A new day dawns in Valencia and I realize, for the first time in my multiple visits, of the importance of silk in such a popular way. To travel its streets today is to go beyond its gastronomy, its beaches or its modern heritage, is to give a walk through the most artisanal history and traditional (Map of the Valencia Tourist Office)

He "Velluters" Neighborhood, now known as El Pilar, has the origin of its name in the fifteenth century when the majority of inhabitants were already silk artisans, thus transforming the tile industry and initial bricks. Streets such as Guillén de Castro, Hospital and Barón de Cárcer or Quart, leave references to the artisans who lived in its streets and who in the Middle Ages came to constitute the Velluters Guild.

The Hospital Library, he Carpenters Guild building, he Palace of the Tamarit, the former stately residence and sedero workshop, the Convent of the Virgen del Pilar, from Our Lady of the Incarnation waves Pious Schools They leave a pleasant walk along the "Silk Road" of Valencia that takes us to its main icon, The Silk Exchange, which deserves a separate chapter.

He Silk Art College It is well worth a stop, structurally and typologically Gothic mansion (thanks Antonio) with a sample of Baroque estuary facade, which was founded on the occasion of the boom in silk production in Valencia in 1479 with the participation of Genoese masters. Today there are 48 scrolls, 660 books and 97 archive boxes, the vast majority about the Guild of Velluters and which is currently under renovation, will bring one of the museums dedicated to the art of weaving and silk more impressive from Europe (reopening in spring 2016 but allows access to several rooms already)

With all this, it is not surprising thatSpain has requested a review of the historical maps of the route that ended in Venice to include Valencia, among other things with historical buildings such as the Lonja, an essential in any visit to the city

The Silk Market, its main icon

A location that in 2016 it will commemorate 20 years of its declaration as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO It is more than just a must-see, it is an icon in the city and also on this particular tour of the Silk Road. We are facing a masterpiece of Valencian civil gothic whose construction dates back to the end of the 15th century.

The Silk Exchange (also originally called the Merchants' Market) soon became the nerve center of more than 293 certified seeding masters in the city. People say that in the 18th century there were almost 4,000 looms in Valencia and about 70,000 inhabitants lived on silk Photos via Travel Guides

Your visit is essential for any traveler who passes through the city. There you will understand the main reason why Valencia is Silk City in 2016, highlighting the striking rear facade of the church of Los Santos Juanes, his imposing Columnary Hall wave Golden Chamber

Details like the first thing you find is a patio with orange trees whose explanation comes from the unfortunate epidemic that caused silk disappeared from Valencia already in the 18th century or each and every one of those strange sculptures with "macabre" creatures of the time Sele explains to us in his story (Antonio leaves us a great explanation in the comments also of his iconographic program)

Do you want to dig deepermore about silk culture in Valencia? Do not miss the tissues in the Amparo Fabra clothing store / workshop, he Handicraft Center of the Valencian Community or enjoy !! Failures!!

It is said that paella arose in the rural areas of Valencia between the 15th and 16th centuries due to the need of farmers to obtain a fast and easy-to-transport meal. Who knows? Perhaps if it had been a few centuries before the exchange would have been silk for one of the best dishes of Valencian cuisine. And you, What are you waiting for to know Valencia, Silk City 2016?

Isaac, discovering the origins of the Silk route in Valencia