23 September 2015
València, Spain: Fallas, Fireworks, and Paella

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, after Madrid and Barcelona.

That’s pretty impressive company.

But Valencia can stand on its own as a wondrous old city, the former capital of the Old Kingdom of Valencia.

The birthplace of paella. The deathplace of the fallas.

The host city for the America’s Cup in 2007 and 2010.

And home to a massive modern architectural project by Santiago Calatrava.

The roots of Valencia reach back to a Roman colony founded in 138 BC on an island in the Turia River.

The Moors held this part of Spain from the 8th to the 13th century, with the exception of about five years from 1094 to 1099 when Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar—El Cid—broke their hold in Valencia.

Despite being on the Mediterranean Sea, there is still a local expression that says “Valencia has always lived with its back to the sea”, meaning that the spirit and the core of the city is not necessarily oriented to the water.

One of the most famous aspects of Valencia is a tradition that dates back several centuries, the Night of the Cremà, which takes place in March.

This is the burning of the Fallas, large wooden and papier mache dolls or effigies—sometimes representing politicians or celebrities or allegorical figures.

It is believed the tradition dates back to the carpenter’s guild of Valencia, who would celebrate the Festival of their patron Saint Joseph by gathering in front of their workshops to burn old tools, other wooden utensils, and candleholders they used to give them light during the winter season.

To me, a much more worthy exercise is the acquisition and consumption of Paella, the signature dish of Valencia.

The dish is named after the pan used to prepare it. You can, if you wish, think of it as a Spanish version of a wok.

Paella originated in the mid-nineteenth century near Albufera lagoon in Valencia. In many ways it brings together the Roman and Arab and indigenous flavors of the region.

Copyright 2015 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.