The 1957 Valencia flood was a natural disaster that occurred on the 14th October 1957. Previous floods had been recorded in Valencia; up to 75 floods are estimated to have taken place in the seven centuries prior to the 1957 flood.
The 1957 flood resulted in significant damage to property and caused the deaths of at least 81 people.
In response to the tragedy, the Spanish government devised and enacted the Plan Sur (“South Plan”), which rerouted the city’s main river, the Turia.
The plan was approved in December 1961 and rerouted the Turia to the south of Valencia, three kilometres from its original course. The new course is 7.5 miles long and 175 metres wide. Work began in 1964 and finished in 1973.
A set of 11 different tax stamps for the rebuilding of Valencia were issued between 1963 and about 1985 to raise money for the project. Shown below are the ten correos versions and the single 1963 50 cts telegrafos (telegraph) stamp in this series of revenues.
Some of the images on the stamps feature different famous buildings or artefacts in Valencia. For example, the 1966 issue features the famous Miguelete Cathedral with its Gothic-style octagonal bell tower & a spiral staircase which affords great views over the city.
The1968 stamp shows the Holy Chalice – the cup that Christians believe Jesus drank from at the Last Supper. The chalice is stored in a special chapel within Valencia’s cathedral. This chalice with Arabic inscriptions dates from the 1st century, and was given to the cathedral by king Alfonso V of Aragon in 1436. There is obviously much debate as to its authenticity but it has been used by a number of Popes.
Two first day covers for the 1963 and 1966 tax stamp issuesare shown below.
Additionally, some Spanish governed colonies such as Spanish Sahara, Ifni and Spanish Guinea also issued stamps in 1958 bearing the words “Ayuda a Valencia” – Help to Valencia.
These stamps showed the emblem of Valencia with the flag and the famous Valencia ‘bat’.
The story goes that as King James I entered the city in 1238, liberating it from 500 years of Muslim rule, a bat flew from the sky and landed on the King’s head! This was seen as a blessing and the bat became the protector symbol of the City.
When the Muslims surrendered, they waved a red and yellow banner of surrender which can still be viewed in Valencia’s Museum of Municipal History. The striped square in the centre of the emblem signifies that surrender flag.
The birds featured are pigeons for Spanish Guinea, barn swallows for Ifni and white storks for Spanish Sahara.
After the river was rerouted, the old river bed was converted into public gardens. Valencia now boasts beautiful 6 miles long by 100 yards wide park that meanders right across the city culminating in the City of Arts and Science with its incredible architecture. Very much worth a visit!