Look at the big bird

The other news from Valencia

There is a story that my father told us when we were little, whenever we went to the Central Market, which was almost every Saturday. I do not know if it was a covert threat behind a historical curiosity, but I always found the bittersweet character of the story interesting.

My father did not enter into details of dates or place us in a specific historical period, it was one of those stories that surely had reached his ears as part of the oral tradition … my father was always very dedicated in that sense.

For the details provided, I will establish the time around the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, during one of the golden stages of the city of Valencia (not in vain, it was called the Golden Age of the Valencian Letters). Along with the great literary feats, such as the printing of the first literary book in Spain, La Lonja de la Seda was one of the economic epicenters of almost the entire crown of Aragon. There all kinds of deals, contracts and re-contracts were closed. It was a place where all the Valencian bourgeoisie and the rest of the Crown came. The city of Valencia became the second most populated city on the peninsula! behind Granada.

Framed the historical moment, it is understandable that a demographic growth like the one that had the city of Valencia in those years, would bring associated in some way considerable social differences. The humblest families grew in numbers and members, helped by the lack of methods of family control and religious pressure (those “wonderful years” of the Inquisition).

Well, the story tells that the parents of those humble families, unable to feed their children or to use them in the fields or other tasks, came to Valencia in search of a better future for their children and to save some spikes. eager for food … Normally after giving an unsuccessful return to the crowded surroundings of the Central Market in search of someone who needed a servant or an apprentice or whatever, they ended up on the steps of La Lonja (on the corner of this one with the current Calle de Pere Comte, which goes to the Plaza del Doctor Collado) accompanied by the family surplus, usually small children or preadolescents. From this particular point the auction of the central market, better known as “La Cotorra” or “El Pardalot”, is clearly visible.

Before such a view, usually the father, told his children “Mireu ahí dalt! Mireu el Pardalot !!” (look up there! Look at the Big Bird!!). There stood La Cotorra del Mercado Central, bright, twirling in the sun swaying in the wind.

The young people, surprised by such wonder, stayed ojipláticos staring at the metal bird at the top of the vault of the Central Market, at which time the parent took to slide like a cat on a zinc roof to the Plaza del Doctor Collado and disappear among the crowd.

When the children wanted to realize it, the father had already left, paraphrasing Dorian’s famous song, anywhere else.

This seemingly heartbreaking story, totally from other times, currently inconceivable (Vizzini, The Bride Princess), had its kind part … more or less:
It was very common for a merchant from the Central Market or a bourgeois who left La Lonja to close a prosperous business, pick them up as servants to perform tasks in his palace or for the most annoying work in the back room of the fish market.