Plaça de la Mare de Déu, or Plaza de la Virgen de Valencia, is the quintessential Valencian square. Until last March, the only pedestrian of the great squares of the city. In addition, it is one of the emblematic places with its neighbors the Palau de la Generalitat, the Basilica and the Miguelete.
It is the place where thousands of Valencians come together in the Falla Offering. Heir to the Roman Forum, an allegorical source to the Turia river presides over the square. It is made in bronze, it represents the Turia river surrounded by eight naked female figures and wearing the headdress of Valencian farmers. These symbolize the eight great ditches of the renowned Valencian orchard: Quart, Benáger i Faitanar, Tormos, Mestalla, Mislata, Rascaña, Favara and Rovella i Chirivella.
Monumental and full of fervor
Precisely, in that same square, a few meters from the source, at the door of the Apostles of the Cathedral of Valencia, the Tribunal de las Aguas meets. Declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (2008) “for being the sole witness of a living cultural tradition: that of justice and the democratic and self-managed government of water by the peasants”. Indeed, every Thursday this customary court meets in public session to settle the conflicts between the irrigators who feed their crops with the water from those eight major irrigation channels.
The monumentality of the environment is incomparable. The Cathedral and the Basilica preside over the square, forming one of its facades. The Palau de Benicarló-headquarters of the Valencian Cortes- just a few meters away and the Palau de la Generalitat Valencia, seat of the regional government, are in another of the limits of the square. On the other edge is the Almudín Museum, and even the view of the upper part of the Miguelete, give Plaza de la Virgen a unique character, epicenter of the Ciutat Vella, the historic neighborhood of Valencia.
A visit to the interior of the Basilica of the Virgen de los Desamparados, to admire the image of the patron saint of Valencia, is an unmissable event. The fervor that the Valencians profess to the Geperudeta (for the hump looking at her son in her arms) is spectacular. It is a tradition among pregnant women to go when they go out to do nine laps around the inside of the Cathedral. The turns take place inside, by the ambulatory, behind the High Altar. They seek the protection of the Virgin from the good birth that a chapel has there.
Kilometer zero of the city and outdoor life of the Plaza de la Virgen in Valencia
However, the sun is the main protagonist of the square, which gathers a multitude of people. These are swirled on the terraces of the various cafes or sitting on the steps that delimit it. They enjoy the light of one of the largest open spaces in the city, a corner also preferred by many couples to immortalize their wedding.
The flow of people passing through the square mixed with those who enjoy the place having an ice cream or a soft drink, constitutes one of the most common and iconic images of the city. Without a doubt, we can say that the Plaza de la Virgen de Valencia is kilometer zero of the city.