National Geographic : 1965 Mar
At Valencia new suburbs spread wide and flat onto the crop-carpeted plain. But old bridges on the Rio Turia spanned centuries as well as water. A mellow archway loomed on the riverbank, a remnant of the old wall and city gate. From that point streets grew snug, and the city fitted its still-popular name: Valencia del Cid, or Valencia of the Cid, honoring the 11th-century knight who fought the Moors and became the ideal of Spanish chivalry. We saw this opulent sea-scented city with Vicente Giner Boira, scholar, lawyer, loyal son of Valencia, and "your enthusiastic member of the National Geographic Society." "Careful of the low archway," warned Sefior Giner. "This is the old city wall stormed by the Cid nine centuries ago." We stood in a Provincial potte private patio where clothes National Cerami preparation of pan dried on a line; broomweed the indoor well w bristled on top of the thick ten-foot wall. "Christians lived on this side of the city, and so the Cid stormed this wall hoping for inside help." We joined Sefor Giner for a drive. "Aqui. The Cid died here-where you see the va cant lot. Soon we shall raise a plaque saying here is the Cid's death place." On a Thursday morning, I met Sefior Giner at the Va lencia Cathedral door to see a Moorish legal relic still alive and working, the Tribunal of the Waters (opposite). "A court unchanged in its details since A.D. 960," said Senior Giner. "See those chairs?" He pointed to eight black thronelike seats beside the Gothic portal. "For the judges-each elected by farmers in a canal district." A crowd was gathering, a mixed group of sunburned farmers and camera-bearing tourists. Across the street the jurists were putting on their black robes. "This court may be even older than a thousand years," said Sefior Giner. "In other forms it might have existed in Roman times. We feel sure that Hannibal used a water dispute to set off the Second 305 Punic War-just north of here, at Sagunto." Thus Spain became a battleground in the long struggle between Rome and Carthage. The crowd was now blocking traffic in the narrow street; everyone stirred as the judges filed to their seats. "Now I must leave you," said Sefior Giner. "I am also the administrator of the tribunal." He dissolved into the judicial crowd. The court case was a simple one: A farmer charged his neighbor with flooding a field and damaging the crop. The neighbor had his say. Then the judges put their heads together. The charge, they announced, was valid, and a fine would be levied later. ry and tiles brighten a model kitchen in Valencia's :s Museum. Girls in silk and lace demonstrate the ella, Valencia's most popular dish. Water drawn from ill steam rice, chicken, and seafood.