You're sure to be impressed by Valencia's variety of craft industries, providing products made with imagination, skill and artistry. Copper green and blue colorants in ceramics first arrived with the Reconquest in the 13th century; and the socarrats of Paterna - unique tiles with patterns or designs burnt onto the surface - were first made in the 15th century. Manises and Paterna contend as capitals of the ceramic trade, with Manises being well known for its large number of factories and expositions open to the public, and its attractive Ceramics Museum. Hand-painted lans with ribbing in carved ivory or exotic woods are another Valencian speciality. Woodworking has long been traditional in the area, and guitars, castanets and pipes are some ot the articles still made today. Leatherwork and silk have a long history behind them, and now find one of their major outlets in adornments for the fallas ( 27Kb ) and in church vestments. Metalwork ol yesteryear is now applied in the manufacture of jewellery, goldsmithing and lampmaking. Furniture is another ot the outstanding representatives of Valencia's famed artisans numbering in the thousands. The creations ol famous Valencian designers are easily within reach at excellent quality/price ratios.
Coinciding with the city center are the main shopping streets: La Paz, Colon and Plaza de Ayuntamiento. There are shops here specializing in the very latest design trends.
On Sunday mornings, the milling crows in Plaza Redondda (behind Plaza de la Reina) denote feverish commercial activity. anything can be found there, from parrots to leather bags or second-hand watches. Customers are warned, however, to check that the article they are buying lives up to the promises of the expert salesman.
Many of the central streets are named after the trades that ware carried on there in former times, and there are still some vestiges of popular handicrafts today. For fine wickerwork, go to the well-known calle de las cestas (street of the baskets). There are also a lot of fan-markers and goldsmiths, but the region's main handicraft is without a doubt ceramics. The pottery and ceramic shops are all over Valencia, and sell their wares directly to the public.