One of the most ancient sites of worship in Spain, the Visigoths built a Cathedral here in the years following the fall of the Roman Empire. This was built over by the Moors who erected a mosque which was, in its turn, built over in 1238 after the Reconquista reached Valencia. The Cathedral was built to the orders of James I the Conqueror and is dedicated to Santa Maria.
Most of what we see today was built between this time and the 15th Century and is largely in the Gothic style. Excavations have since uncovered the remains of the Visigoth Cathedral and the mosque that replaced it. The last major work dates to around 1459 when the naves were expanded and joined the Chapter House with the rest of the Cathedral.
The main door of the Cathedral, known as the Iron Gate, dates to 1703 but was left unfinished because of the War of the Spanish Succession. It was then completed some fifty years later. In the 1770s moves were made to change the appearance of the Cathedral to neo-Classical and some work was done towards this, giving the Cathedral a kind of hybrid appearance between two very disparate architectural memes.
In the Spanish Civil War the church was set alight and much damage was done to the interiors. In the 1970s work was begun to remove the neo-Classical work, although this was only done where the structure could withstand the changes.
Valencia Cathedral is home to one of the potential Holy Grails that are dotted around the world. Many Christian scholars suggest that the chalice in Valencia is the likeliest candidate for the true Grail. It dates to the 1st Century and was given to the Cathedral in 1436.
Photo - Shaun Runham
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