On October 9, 1238, King Jaime I captured the city of Valencia from the Moors, who had held the city for over 500 years. Originally a Roman colony since 138 BC, Valentia was previously inhabited by Romans (138 BC – 554 AD), the Visigoths (554 AD – 714 AD), and the Moors (714 AD – 1238 AD). When Jaime I of Aragon arrived as an arm of the Roman Catholic army, he worked for almost 20 years to unify Spain, and also brought Barcelona back into Spanish territory, at the time under a French suzerainty (wow, that is definitely the first time I have used that word!).

Here in Valencia, we celebrate his capture of the city as Nou de Octubre, or Ninth of October. Much like the American Independence Day celebrations, Valencia pulls out its most impressive activities and makes them free to the public. However, since October 9 is a bank holiday, the evening of October 8 is what really gets people excited. There are also public performances (in Valenciano) reenacting the events of the king and his advisors beginning the week prior to the celebration.

This year, I went with my friends to the City of Arts and Sciences, where a number of special events would be held in the iconic buildings in the Túria riverbed. Choral celebrations, expositions, opera demonstrations, and a 25-minute fireworks extravaganza punctuate the importance of this day. The buildings themselves are quite impressive, and unique both inside and out. Take a look below… there was a display of the theatre, an opera demonstration, and a choral presentation that were held in the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia.

A word about the theatre environment. We did not go into the main opera hall, but into a very unique black box theatre on the back side of the stage. Everything moves flexibly, including the seats. A four-column set came up out of the floor, and that was pulled to the side to make room for the water-tray set of the next performance while the entire audience seating area was moved forward for a better view. One singer, along with living room furniture, was suspended from the ceiling (while still singing in midair), and the event concluded with a funny ensemble performance.

I was extremely tired and decided to go home before the fireworks, but should have stayed… oh, well, there is always next year! The full moon over the city was spectacular, and overall, it was a lovely night!

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That’s the whole “palace” structure rising from the floor…

DSCN5752 copy DSCN5754 copy You can’t really see it, but the whole floor is set in about four inches of water.

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