Old Town, El Carmen
This historic El Carmen, old town neighborhood., receives the name of Carmen, because its epicenter corresponds to the one known as Plaza del Carmen. Since in this place the old Convent of Carmen was located, now the Carmen Cultural Center. With the difficulties involved in defining the boundaries of a neighborhood. We can say that its area is included in the following circle: Torres de Serranos along Paseo de la Pechina to the Torres de Quart. On Quart Street until Tossal Square, continuing on Caballeros Street to reach Manises Square where the Generalitat Palace is located. From this square we go up Serranos Street to reach the Serranos Towers again.
Valencia in its best times had not only one but two walls. The first was built by Muslims, specifically by order of the Arab king Abd-Al-Aís in the eleventh century. This was a wall that protected a really small area of what the city is today. So it was that after Jaime I took the city with blood and fire, one of his successors the Christian king Pedro II. The Ceremonious, decided in 1356 the construction of a second wall that would include the suburbs of the city. The original Arab wall was preserved as a second defensive ring and today its foundations can be seen in the Archbishop’s Square, right next to the Cathedral.
There is no remainder of the Christian wall but two of the entrance doors to the City: Las Torres de Serranos and Las Torres de Quart
The first to be built were the Torres de los Serranos. Which were the main entrance of the city now part of the Carmen old town neighborhood. They were built during the period 1392 to 1937. The master builder was inspired by the Gothic style doors that were being built in different cities of the Kingdom of Aragon.
During the Spanish Civil War, when the legitimate government of the Republic moved to Valencia. These doors were used to keep, our national treasure, the masterpieces of the Prado Museum. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a first restoration was carried out. And in 2002 the stone was cleaned from the entire structure. The other doors, De Quart, are later and have a much more abandoned appearance. These doors, which were built between 1441 and 1460, have survived almost all war catastrophes in our country. Napoleon’s troops were baited with them, and many of the gaps that are seen are a gift from the French artillery to the city of Valencia. Tthen endured, the War of Succession, the Cantonal Wars and also the Spanish Civil War. In the rehabilitation process it has been decided to leave the holes in the pumps and not cover them.
From Quarts :
From the Torres de Quart you can start a walk along Quart Street, go through Plaza del Tossal and continue along Caballeros Street where some of the most beautiful palaces in Valencia are located. Some of these palaces have beautiful Mediterranean patios with palm trees and plants, which can be visited.
Continuing until the end of Caballeros Street we find the impressive Palau de la Generalitat, current seat of the Presidency of the Government of the Autonomous Community of Valencia. The building that was completely restored during the first autonomous socialist government of the Community chaired by Joan Lerma, is a magnificent example of late Mediterranean Gothic. It has three heights and windows with columns in the middle on the main floor. Its construction ended in 1421 and was extended in the 16th century when a large tower was added. The interior is richly decorated and can be visited in small groups upon request for an appointment at the Palace itself.
From the Palace, following Navellos Street, you reach the Plaza de San Lorenzo where the Valencian Cortes building is located. This ancient palace was originally the Ducal Palace of the Borja, also known in Italy as the Borgia, a Spanish dynasty originally from Xativa, which produced two of the most original popes who have sat on the throne of St. Peter. Many Spaniards still wonder how it is possible that Spain is such a Catholic country, which has done so much for Rome and for Christianity, since the Borja has not once again been a single Spanish Pope.
REACHING THE END
And finally if we retrace our steps to Plaza del Tossal. We can take a walk along Calle Alta or Calle Baja that lead us to the center of Barrio del Carmen. Visitors must be advised that the neighborhood does in fact have buildings in an unfortunate state of preservation. Because some even seem to be falling at any time. This is because the old town is really large. And although since the 1980s both the public administration and private companies are making a great effort to rehabilitate the Carmen. Given its size, it is possible but there are still enough years until this completely fixed.
However, it has areas already quite well-groomed. With very well restored buildings and a good commercial and leisure offer. Especially cocktail bars and restaurants. The Plaza del Carmen is a good place to have a snack or a drink at night. The terraces of the square itself is a good option. Or the nearby Museum Street or to visit the Carmen Church or the 19th Century Museum that has a beautiful patio .
So now is your turn to enjoy El Carmen old town neighborhood and be part of the history!!