The Oldest Democratic Body in Europe: The Valencia Water Court

The Valencia Water Court in session
The Valencia Water Court in session
If you should happen to be in Valencia, Spain…in the Plaza de la Virgen….on Thursday…at noon, you will have a chance to glimpse the oldest democratic body in the world in operation: the Tribunal de las Aguas (The Water Court).

Dating back over 1,000 years to the time of the Moorish conquest, the water court was originally set up by farmers to the south of the city to resolve water disputes between them. They delegated certain men to hear disputes between farmers and this tradition continued after Valencia was returned to Christian control.

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