The Muslim Valencia
Guided tour to the Muslim Valencia
A little history:
The Islamic period of Valencia begins with the progressive arrival of new settlers of Arab, Syrian, Berber and Egyptian origin at the beginning of the 8th century to the city and its surroundings.
So that the the Islamic period began in 711 with the conquest of Toledo by King Tarik and Muza.
There was no Muslim invasion of a warlike nature. The Visigothic-Roman society that dragged and suffered the consequences of its internal political and economic social conflicts, willingly accepted the technical and intellectual advantages that those Muslims brought with them.
The orientalizing was mixed with the local Latin-Goth substrate.
It would not be a homogeneous period, this important stage would be divided into large phases.
Little is known about Muslim Valencia, upon arrival the Muslims renamed the Roman Valentia as Balansiya.
Nevertheless, the name with which it was best known during the first 3 dark centuries was Medinat-al-Turab, which means “city of mud “Or” city of dust “, for being built on a floodplain.
One of the few historical references that we have was the creation in the Ruzafa of a palace surrounded by Gardens, carried out by Prince Abd-Allah “al Balansi” during the s. IX.
After the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba, at the beginning of the s. XI Valencia becomes the capital of a Taifa kingdom and experiences significant urban growth. During the reign of Abd-A-Aziz -1021 to 1061- (Almanzor’s grandson), the new walls were built. According to the geographer Al-Uldrí, no city in al-Andalus was known with such perfect walls.
The Muslim domain would extend until 1238, year in which Jaime I conquered the city. Under the name of “Vicus Sarracenorum”, the king created a neighborhood to house the Muslims who decided to stay in the city.
The purpose of that neighborhood was to control the population and prevent them from being attacked by Christians since the king allowed them to continue living with their religion and customs.
Meeting point for the guided tour to the Muslim Valencia: “The Serranos Towers/Gate
This is where one of the gates of the Islamic wall, “Bab-al-Qantara”, would be located. It owes its name to the fact that there was a bridge in front of it, and Qantara means bridge. (It would be located in the actual “plaza dels Furs”, behind the Serranos Towers).
We are going to follow the streets where the Islamic wall ran and we will see some sections and towers of this, which are still preserved embedded in buildings, and we will see where their main doors were located.
Then we are going to pass through the Portal de Valldigna
It is a portal opened in 1400 on the 11th century Arab wall, and that separated “the Moreria” (the Muslims quarter) from the Christian city of Valencia.
And visit the Tossal Gallery inaugurated in 2001
After a long process of archaeological renovations to bring to light the remains of the Islamic wall of the XII century and part of the Rovella canal.
Enter to the Colegio Mayor Rector Peset
This is located in a noble house, that in 1997 was rehabilitated and adapted to its new university function. There have survived some elements of interest in its basement, like a huge fragment of the Arab wall. It has been perfectly integrated into what is now a room used as an exhibition hall.
After seeing other sections of the Islamic wall, we will arrive to los Baños del Almirante (the Admiral’s Baths)
This was built in medieval times.
The Baths were founded in 1313 as public baths, during the reign of Jaime II, though the layout of these, was similar to that of Arab steam baths or hammâm:
a hall or rest room, three vaulted rooms, lavatories, a boiler room and a store room.
They are the only ones in the city of Valencia that functioned as public baths for more than six centuries.
At the end of the visit we may have a drink in an original place where there are also remains of the Islamic wall.
This visit is ideal for people who like history.
See you soon in Valencia!!
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