While I wouldn’t claim to be the most religious person, I do love visiting a good church on holiday. They’re always so awe-inspiring and, I find, they provide a peaceful haven, even in the middle of the most bustling city. As a result, you’ll often find me taking a minute out to light a candle or simply reflect in the middle of a trip abroad.
There’s so much to do and see in Valencia. But, if you’re like me and can’t get enough of opulent churches, Valencia seems to boast one on almost every corner. However, if you’re not sure where to begin, I’ve compiled this handy list of my favourite five.
1.The Church of San Martin Obispo
This baroque beauty was the first stop on our whistle-stop tour of Valencia’s best churches. The opulent chapel dates from the 14th century but has benefited from a large-scale renovation in recent years. Inside, the building’s gleaming white walls are offset with intricate gold details, emphasising its religious significance.
Located slightly south of Plaza de la Reina, San Martin is within easy walking distance of the city’s main sights. So, it’s ideal for a quick stop. And, moreover, it’s free to visit.
2. Valencia Cathedral
Just up from San Martin lies Valencia’s Cathedral, or, to give it its proper title – the Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia. The predominantly Gothic building is home to an impressive range of artworks and artefacts. However, one object stands out as its jewel in the crown.
Located in a side chapel in the cathedral sits the Holy Grail. You know, just the actual chalice Jesus supposedly used at the Last Supper. I have no idea how the experts know that this is the chalice, but they do seem pretty sure about it.
When it first came to Valencia, the church didn’t seem too bothered about preserving the artefact’s historical value. In fact, legend has it that priests once used the cup during holy communion in mass. And, one time, one bishop apparently dropped and broke it. According to our tour guide, the crack can still be observed today. However, the chalice is now kept well away from clumsy hands in a glass cabinet.
It’s €7 to enter the cathedral and slightly more if you want an audio guide.
3. Church of San Nicolás
Considering how beautiful this church is, Valencia is hardly making a song and dance about it. A good deal of Googling will reveal visitors have compared it to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Rome. However, finding the chapel once you get to Spain isn’t straight forward. We got to it via a tiny side street off Carrer de Quart. But, it was well worth the mission.
Founded in the 13th century, San Nicolás boasts an intricate painted ceiling which depicts the stories of various saints. In fact, everywhere the eye wanders there’s something exquisite to look at.
Recently restored to its former glory, the entry fee is €5. However, this includes a half-hour audio guide which is both interesting and concise in its explanation of the church’s various frescos.
4. Basílica de la Mare de Déu dels Desemparats
On Plaza de la Virgen, slap bang in the centre of Valencia, visitors will find the Basílica de la Mare de Déu dels Desemparats. Inside, a statue of Our Lady stands pride of place. And, this depiction of the Virgin Mary is in fact the patroness of Valencia. Citizens of the city celebrate her in a festival which takes place on the second Sunday of each May. However, she also features in the famous Fallas every March, during which attendees adorn her with a skirt of flowers as an offering to Our Lady.
5. Iglesia del Patriarca o del Corpus Christi
This was the last church we visited in Valencia and, strictly speaking, it’s not a church. At least not any more. The chapel sits within a former Roman Catholic college where members of the clergy were once trained. However, today, the whole building is a museum. But, that doesn’t detract from its loveliness. The church boasts glorious depictions which are illuminated via an impressive domed roof.
So, that’s it. My top five in a nutshell. But, I know for a fact I only scratched the surface when it came to beautiful churches in Valencia. Did you come across any others in the city? If not, where’s the most awe-inspiring church you’ve visited? I’d love to hear all about it, so pop a comment in the box below!