El Tribunal de las Aguas

Trip Start Jul 14, 2011
Trip End Aug 15, 2011

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Flag of Spain  , Valencia,
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Today was a much more successful trip into the city.  I was supposed to meet up with the 15 other members of my class and the professor at 11:30 to see  El Tribunal de las Aguas.  I decided to arrive early so that I could walk around more, take photos, and learn the city center better.  We are going to be going to many places in the old city center next week, so it seemed like a good idea to know the area better.

I got off the bus at the Plaza de Ayuntamiento (City Hall Plaza).  It is a plaza with the city hall on one side and the post office on the other -- both are very beautiful buildings.  I went back into the post office (site of yesterday's disaster) to take a few photos.  I took one of the stained glass ceiling and was going to take one of the people doing post office business in the beautiful building, but a guard told me that you are only allowed to take photos of the upper floors and the ceiling.

From the Plaza de Ayuntamiento I went back to the Estación del Norte to take a few photos and see if I could find a tourist office because one of my colleagues had told me that there were free posters in the tourist office.  I didn´t find a tourist office there so I continued walking around and exploring.

Found a small tourist office near the cathedral where I got a better map than the one I had.  On the map I saw where there was a bigger tourist office which I realized was the one my colleagues had gone to for the posters.  I realized I had just enough time to walk to that tourist office before I had to meet up with my group.

I met up with everyone right at 11:30 in front of one of the doors of the cathedral.  The Tribunal wasn´t due to start until 12:00 but it gets very crowded, so Michael Gerhli (our professor) had suggested that we meet up at 11:30.  While we waited he told us all sorts of interesting things about Valencia and some of the traditions.  The closer it got to 12:00, the more crowded it got until finally we were standing in a huge sea of people.  I began to feel a little claustrophobic, so I was glad that the Tribunal itself was such a short affair.

At 12:00 on the dot, the Tribunal began.  A man dressed in black, with a hat, and carrying a big staff came out of the building next to the cathedral.  He announced the arrival of the judges who then came out of the same building and they all proceeded toward the door of the cathedral where special chairs had been set up for them.  The Tribunal is something that dates back to when the Muslims ruled Valencia and the present day cathedral was a mosque.  The Tribunal is to settle water disputes.  Since the time of the Muslims Valencia has been an agricultural province, irrigated by canals that the Muslims built.  There are very specific rules as to who gets to use the water and for how long.  Every Thursday the Tribunal meets and if there are any disputes, they are heard and decided on the spot with no chance of appeal.  When all the judges had taken their seats, the man with the staff asked if there were any disputes.  (He asked in a very formal matter.)  There are 8 main canals, so he called each canal by name for people to come forward with their disputes.  This week there weren´t any, so the Tribunal didn´t last very long.  

After the Tribunal, we walked around a bit with Michael (the prof.) because he wanted to show us the different places we will be visiting next week.  He also pointed out different restaurants and cafes that he is particularly fond of.  When the group disbanded, I went with 3 other women to a horchatería that Michael had pointed out.  A Horchata is a refreshing Spanish drink made from a tubor.  It is white, slightly sweet, and has a bit of an almond taste.  It was a nice little break to sit at one of the outdoor tables and drink horchata and get to know the other 3 women a little better.  When we were done, 2 of them women were going to go to another cafe for something else, but I decided to catch a bus back home.  

I´ve just finished another really delicious meal at home.  I feel like taking a nap, but I have got to get my things collected so that I can go to class.  I think I´ll get a cup of coffee when I get to class.  Yesterday I got very sleep in class until I got a coffee at break time.

Tomorrow and Saturday we have all day trips scheduled to towns near Valencia.  Tomorrow we are going to the town of Sagunto and Friay we are going to Xativa.  Muslims introduced paper making to Europe and Xativa was a major site of paper-making in the Muslim world.  The paper was made here and then shipped all over the Muslim empire.

Off to class now.
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Stuart on

What a fascinating day! The photos are superb.
very interesting about the water mediation. I assume there are not disputes raised any longer, so it is strictly ceremonial?
Neat about paper-making. Bernie V should go there.
I am so happy the food and accommodations are going so well--as well as the academic & cultural studies

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