Cabanyal’s Rice Museum
Valencia continues to surprise us. Although we had known about the existence of Cabanyal’s Museo del Arroz for years, we had never bothered visiting. It’s a rice museum, you know? It never captured our curiosity. But we shouldn’t have delayed so long, because this museum is fantastic.
The Museo del Arroz is situated in the former Umbert Rice Mill, which dates from the early 1900s. The mill ran for nearly a hundred years and the original equipment is still in place, almost all of it operational. The Polytechnic University of Valencia renovated the mill thoroughly before the museum was opened; each piece of equipment was taken apart, polished and repaired, and all the older mechanical components were replaced. So visiting feels like stepping back in time to see an old working rice mill, with all the whirring gears and pulleys set into motion.
The Museo del Arroz focuses not so much on rice itself, as on its processing. The information is all clearly presented, including English translations, and from the husker (which removes the shells) to the sorting sifter (which separates the grains by size), it’s easy to follow the rice grain’s journey from the field to your plate.
A rice museum might not sound exciting, but we recommend checking it out. The mill itself is beautiful, with its wooden beams ascending to four floors, the exhibits are interesting, and there are time-worn photographs of former workers on the walls. Visit right before lunch time, and you might have a different appreciation for the paella you’re about to eat.