The Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia (Iglesia Catedral-Basílica Metropolitana de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora de Valencia), alternatively known as Saint Mary's Cathedral or Valencia Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic parish church in Valencia, Spain. It was consecrated in 1238 by the first bishop of Valencia after the Reconquista, Pere d'Albalat, Archbishop of Tarragona, and was dedicated by order of James I the Conqueror to Saint Mary.
It was built over the site of the former Visigothic cathedral, which under the Moors had been turned into a mosque. Gothic architecture, in its Catalan or Mediterranean version, is the predominant style of this cathedral, although it also contains Romanesque, French Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-Classical elements. One of the supposed Holy Chalices in the world is revered in one of this cathedral's chapels; this chalice has been defended as the true Holy Grail; indeed, most Christian historians all over the world declare that all their evidence points to this Valencian chalice as the most likely candidate for being the authentic cup used at the Last Supper.
It was the official papal chalice for many popes, and has been used by many others, most recently by Pope Benedict XVI, on July 9, 2006. This chalice dates from the 1st century, and was given to the cathedral by king Alfonso V of Aragon in 1436. The cathedral contains numerous 15th century paintings, some by local artists (such as Jacomart ), others by artists from Rome engaged by the Valencian Pope Alexander VI who, when still a cardinal, made the request to elevate the Valencian See to the rank of metropolitan see, a category granted by Pope Innocent VIII in 1492.
Most of Valencia Cathedral was built between the 13th century and the 15th century, and thus its style is mainly Gothic. However, its construction went on for centuries. As a consequence there is a mixture of artistic styles, ranging from the early Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical. Excavations in the adjacent Almoina Archaeological Centre have unearthed the remains of the ancient Visigothic cathedral, which later became a mosque.
A project to renew the building was launched during the last third of the 18th century, whose intention was to give a uniform neoclassical appearance to the church, different from the original Gothic style, that was then considered a vulgar work in comparison. Works started in 1774, directed by the architect Antoni Gilabert Fornés. The reshuffle affected both constructive and ornamental elements: the pinnacles were removed outside, and the Gothic structure masked by stucco and other pseudo-classical elements.
In 1931 the church was declared a historic and artistic landmark by the Spanish government, but during the Spanish Civil War it was burned, which meant that it lost part of its decorative elements. The choir, located in the central part, was dismantled in 1940 and moved to the bottom of the high altar. The organs, which had suffered major damage during the war, were never rebuilt.