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Tour: Valencia underground

Our tour will start visiting the air raid refuge in Serranos Street, which is located in El Carmen neighbourhood. The refuge is lintelled. This means that the roof is not vaulted and that the floor is long and supported by pillars. It still preserves the benches that are adjacent to the walls and pillars. The refuge has two main gates. The first one is located in Serranos Street and still has the complete Art Deco sign “REFUGE”. The second gate can be found in Palomino Street. Once you enter the building in the ground floor, you will have to walk down the stairs until you reach the refuge, which had capacity for 400 people. After the war it was used as a banana storehouse and as Casal Fallero of Falla Santa Cruz. This is the reason why the benches were painted and the building was slightly remodelled. More than 200 paintings were recovered from the walls of the refuge during the restoration process: human figures, names and signatures, bombed houses and combat aircraft are depicted in the paintings, that represent the feelings of those who sought refuge in there.

Later, we will visit the crypt of Saint Vincent Martyr. We will speak about the history of the Saint and the history of this location. Archaeological excavations discovered the remainders of all the historical periods of the city. Some of the most important remainders are those of the Visigoth episcopal ensemble. A funerary complex, part of the apse and two monumental tombstones are exhibited. The chapel is incredibly well-preserved and was built as sepulchre for a Valencian Bishop, probably Justiniano. Under Muslim rule the building was transformed into palatial baths. When Jaume I entered the city in 1238, the northern part of the funerary monument was still visible. The Gothic chapel was built above it because in the 15th century popular tradition identified it as one of the prisons where Saint Vincent was locked up.  Inside the crypt there are also a piece of Roman mural paintings illustrating Mercury, part of a Paleo-Christian sarcophagus, Visigoth rood screen and pieces of 10th and 11th century palatial furnishing. This incredible, magical and intimist place makes the visitor feel like he was living in the times of Vincent Martyr.

Finally, we will visit the archaeological centre Almoina, which is located next to the cathedral. It is a large subterranean museum in which you can take a look to the most incredible vestiges of Romans, Visigoths and Arabs in our city. This location is more than just a visit to an archaeological excavation. La Almoina is a museum of urban history in Valencia and is considered to be one of the best archaeological centres in Europe. Within, remainder of buildings of the founding period are still standing such as the Temple of Asclepius, a horreum and thermae. The city was destroyed by Pompeius in 75 B.C. However, it was rebuilt one century later. The curia, the basilica and the porticoed of the forum are the remainders of the Roman Empire. The main paths are the backbone of the visit. From the Christian period we can observe the baptistery, an apse linked to Saint Vincent’s worship and several monumental tombs. There are also remainders of the Muslim fortress: the waterwheel, the courtyard with its small pool and part of the fortifications. After the Christian conquest, Almoina building, that names the place, was built to help the poor.

Finally, we will go to the refuge of the City Council. This refuge did not have a public nature like the one in Serranos Street, but an educational nature. In Valencia there was a great interest in building refuges near or inside schools, so that children could take shelter from the bombs. Actually, this refuge was built in 1938 and had capacity for 700 children. The objective was protecting the group of children who were studying in the City Council. The restoration process shows the real aspect of the refuge, although boards and screens have been added to provide information.

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