Way back in 2013, I wrote a post about the Water Court, or the Tribunal de las Aguas. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: some things are worth seeing in person, even if they are not big, flashy events. Typically, the Water Court is something of an antiquated tradition that is continued out of the sheer weight of history. I mean, do YOU want to be the person who says we need to stop something that has been going on since the year 960AD?
No, I didn’t think so. Your mother would definitely not be proud.
No, this is a tradition that should continue, as it does every Thursday at noon. Unlike previous years, however, the increase in tourism in Valencia has led to a veritable mob of people attending the tribunal, and basically showing a level of inconsideration that I was frankly unprepared to witness. Gentle reader, don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of experiencing new cultures and traditions, but this went a bit too far.
The crowd was rude. It was loud. It was filled with people trying to shove past one another, large bike tours squeezing through the crowd, vendors selling horchata and fartons (more on that in my next post!), and idiot translators talking constantly (ahem!) in my ear in a volume that speaks of a lifetime of inconsiderate behavior.
Sadly, this would have been an interesting one. Only rarely does someone show up with an actual dispute, and this week, there were three people trying to argue for their rights to use water for their crops and livelihood. I have no idea how the judges heard the arguments, as the crowd was so loud and boisterous that nobody could hear anything. (And a special message to the tour guide / translator lady basically yelling to her clients in Russian in my ear: Would you please SHUT UP?)
I think the pictures tell much of the story. However, if you are there, please get there early, find a good place to wait where you can see the doors of the cathedral even if there is a crowd, and then be patient. This court is a unique tradition that is at the very roots of the Valencia community. If nothing else, pay homage to the history of water and its importance for every city and village in the world.
Want to know more? See better pictures? Click here for my previous post.
Click here for the official site.
Yes, I think you can get a front-row seat! 🙂
Fascinating!! Water is certainly critical everywhere, but this is the only tribunal I’ve heard of…funny—if one is fined, how does one pay in the original currency??
Totally beats me. I’m sure there is some magical list of currency conversions that are used specifically for this situation. It’s really a unique historical event!