I went to Valencia with a group of art history students and we met up with some art history students from the University of Valencia. They showed us around in the city and one student even gave us a private tour through the Valencia cathedral!
The Valencia cathedral is beautiful from the outside.When you approach the church from the Plaza de la Virgen, you’ll see a beautiful entrance from the 15th century. No less than 48 apostles, angels and saints are depicted here. You’ll have to enter the church from the Plaza de la Reina though, where there is another beautiful entrance from the 18th century in a more Baroque style. Don’t forget to look at the doors when you enter the church, because there’s a beautiful relief on them.
When you enter the church, you’ll find the Chapel of the Holy Chalice on your right. This is where the relic of the Holy Chalice is kept and there’s even evidence that the chalice comes from the time that Jesus lived. Fittingly, there’s also an altarpiece with scenes about the Eucharist, painted by the Italian artist Ghiberti. And if you’re wondering why there are so many chains on the walls, so was I, because those are not typically used as decoration in a church. The student explained to us that these chains were from Marseille and that they were a sign of victory after Valencia won a war with Marseille.
Further in the church, there’s a chapel with paintings by Goya of San Francesco de Borga. His story is a little distasteful: when his wife died, he wanted to bury her in a special place and so he travelled a long distance to take her to her final resting place. However, when he got there, her body was almost entirely decomposed and he didn’t recognize her anymore. He then decided that he no longer wanted to serve a mortal king, since mortal kings would all end up like this. Instead he wanted to serve God, so he joined the Jesuits.
Other interesting things in the cathedral include a large reliquary to carry the host with during a procession. It is said that when people carry the reliquary, they can feel the weight of their religion. The huge altarpiece in the middle of the cathedral was made by the students of Leornardo da Vinci and while you’re admiring it, don’t forget to look up in the beautiful dome with marble-colored stained glass windows.
Behind the altar, there’s another somewhat distasteful detail: You can see the arm of the martyr San Vicente. His martyrdom was horrible. He was broken on the wheel, beheaded and quartered (I am not sure in what order and I’m not so eager to find out). A much nicer detail behind the altar is a nice statue of Mary, who protects pregnant women. They bring her little flowers, so there are usually a few flowers laying around the statue.