If you have already listened to some of our audio guides, you’ll know that the Christian Kings of the Reconquest loved to build churches wherever there was a mosque. And if it was a cathedral, the better.
Valencia was no exception. In 1238, Jaime I took over the city, and soon the old Muslim temple was consecrated as the cathedral seat, although the works for the new building would take some years to begin.
It seems that it all started in 1262, but over the centuries, as always, the immense monument would be completed little by little under a phenomenal and interesting stylistic salad. So there is a lot of Gothic, but also Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque and even Neoclassical.
The oldest part is the Puerta de l’Amoina, which means the Door of the Alms, clearly Romanesque and different from the rest of the temple. It was the place where help was given to the neediest and hence its name. The heads of seven couples are sculpted in it, whom, according to tradition represent the first people who repopulated the reconquest city, although other sources contend a less romantic version, as it could well be the people who donated more money to construct the building.
In the fifteenth century the Miguelete, or Micalet, was erected in this cathedral, which is more than just a tower, it is also an icon of the city. And also at that time, Rodrigo Borgia commissioned beautiful paintings in the vault of the main altar, which during the Baroque period would be covered by a lot of filigree and additional elements. You know the way fashion goes. In 2004, almost by chance, they were rediscovered, and everyone was amazed by them.
But we still have the most famous attraction of the Valencian temple: the Grail, the Holy Chalice, the Sacred Cup or whatever you want to call it. The relic that brought over here such fictitious characters like the knight of the Round Table, Sir Lancelot, and as real as Hitler. That and no less is what they say is kept in this cathedral.
Tradition tells us of a long journey that begins in Jerusalem and, after passing through Rome, Huesca and Zaragoza, and through kings, popes and saints, it ends up in Valencia in the fifteenth century. Whether it is the authentic Grail or not, we couldn’t tell you, but that it has an ancient and accredited history is absolutely true. So true that, in 1744, it fell from the hands of a priest during the celebrations of the Holy Week and suffered some damage. The Chalice was repaired, but the bad vibes it gave to the religious man, were such, that the poor man fell ill and died a few days later. Was it a coincidence? Who knows …