Galeria del Tossal: Hidden Islamic Architecture

Islamic architecture in Valencia you say? Yes, but don’t expect it to be featured in many official tourist guides. This is where a local, like moi, comes in handy.

The splendour of Islamic architecture in Valencia was practically reduced to rubble and what little is left is either in a dire state of conservation or hidden inside buildings, many of which are not even open to the public. Galeria del Tossal (Tossal Art Gallery) located under Plaza del Tossal (Tossal Square) is one of the few exceptions.

Before discovering this hidden gem I had walked on top of it so many times, mainly on nights out while being rather (ahem) inebriated , and never realised what that weird glass door was. I actually thought it was just a random door perhaps leading to underground parking; how wrong was I? galeriatossalexteriorOnce you go through the mysterious glass door and descend the steps of the gallery you are transported back to Moorish Valencia where there are remnants of Islamic era walls and tower. The section of Islamic wall and tower that we can see in situ was part of a fortified enclosure of the Bab al Hanax (Hanax Gate) built in the 12th Century. The wall, made of rammed earth (limestone, sand and stones), is 2.5 metres wide and the tower would have stood at approximately 11 metres. Galeriatossal1Following the reconquest of Valencia from the Moors, most of the Islamic wall surrounding the city was town down so that it could expand. However, on this section of the Islamic wall there was a defensive trench that was also used as a drain and therefore the Christians made use of it and transformed it into a branch of the Acequia de Rovella (Rovella Irrigation Channel). The arches that we can see attached to the Islamic wall were built in the 14th Century in order to support the vault of this trench. galeriatossal2

Rating: 8/10 I hold in high esteem those who decided to actually protect these remnants of Islamic architecture; shame the same can’t be said about the countless other examples throughout the city.

Where: Plaza del Tossal (no number)

Opening Times: Tuesday – Saturday: 4.00pm – 7.00pm / Sunday & Bank Holidays: 10.00pm – 2.00pm

Entrance Fee: Free on Sundays and Bank Holidays, otherwise 2€



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