The futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, designed by the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava is made up of the Palace of Arts, the Hemeisferic, the Oceanographic, and the Museum of Sciences, each loacted in incredible buildings.
The Palace of Arts: an impressive building houses the main hall, an auditorium, the Martin Theater, and the the Soler. The palace was created with the purpose of recognizing, supporting, and promoting music and performing arts.
The Hemisferic: Because of it’s peculiar design, it’s known as the “eye of wisdom”. Inside there’s a planetarium, and Imax theater, and the laser theater, all created to surprise visitors with fantastic displays of new technology.
The Oceanographic: considered to be the best aquarium in all of Europe, the Fun, Learning and Investigation Park, contains 45,000 specimens of over 500 different marine species. It’s divided into 10 different areas. The marine sections reflect various habitats, including: Mediterranean, Arctic, Antarctic, tropical seas, islands, and the Red Sea.
The Museum of Sciences: impressive both on the inside and out. The imposing building looks like a dinosaur skeleton. It’s a spectacular learning center for the public, displaying recent scientific and technological discoveries.
La Albufera park is the best place for residents of Valencia to take friends and family when they come to visit. It’s 11 km outside of the city and has a magnificent vantage point (La caste del Pescador – the fisherman’s hut) on the highway around Saler al Perelló. Boats pass through the natural park and the sunset is tremendous from the wharf. Many people head here to spend the day on weekends, especially in the summer. It’s fairly calm there the rest of the year, making it perfect for a stroll. You’ll find a large variety of birds, as it’s one of Spain’s biggest wetlands. So, when you come to Valencia, be sure to check out the city, but to also make the trip to see this unique natural paradise.
This complex opened in 2002 and is part of what is called The City of Arts and Sciences. It is the biggest marine park in Europe. We will find here the world’s different marine habitats and we will be able to observe more than 40,000 animals of 500 different species, from sea lions to sharks to penguins or spider crabs, as well as numerous sea birds. We will also enjoy diverse documentaries about marine life and a wonderful dolphin show. It is an ideal place to discover with your family, and a must stop if you decide to visit the city of Turia.
Getting to Valencia, heading along the Azahares coastal area, entering into the marina neighborhood, where Malvarrosa beach gave me a great feeling up serenity and peace. The fine sand and relaxing sound of the waves creates a great environment.
When I asked my friend about Malvarrosa, she told me that it was full of malvarrosa flowers (hollyhocks). It’ just a few kilometers outside of the city (maybe 6 or 7), but is easily accessed by bus or the modern tranvia, or by bike.
The boardwalk is especially charming. You can enjoy the walk while stopping for a bite to eat or a drink at one of the numerous bars, restaurants, pubs, karaoke bars, clubs, etc., depending on the time of day. There are wooden walkways on the beach, umbrellas, chairs, toys for children, etc.
The amount of palm trees along the beach is striking. There’s also a good amount of ficus plants, the majority are somewhat tilted towards the land, which makes me assume the wind is almost always coming in from the sea. It’s an ideal beach for grabbing some R&R.
Situated in the heart of the city of Valencia, The cathedral of Valencia is worth a visit, known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria; its bell tower is a highlight, nicknamed the ‘Miguelete’ in Spanish or in Valencian ‘Micalet’.
The current cathedral was founded on the ruins of the first cathedral in Valencia dating back to the sixth century Roman-Visigoth. Although now you can mainly only see the Gothic influence, it also appreciates the Baroque and Renaissance styles’.
The interior features a painting by Goya in the Borja chapel, and it’s also worth a visiting the Cathedral Museum.
Well I made a quick trip to see Las Fallas, as I’d never been. I spent the whole of Thursday 19th watching las fallas, and then went to the Town Hall Square, where they burned the falla at 1 in the morning. My experience of day I would say was quite good, although that wait for nightfall to see the falla burning is very stressful.
The Valencia Central Market is curious, unique and beautiful (as many markets) in its tradition and architecture. Take a walk around here and see both the building itself, as well as the stalls and their disposition, it is a good way to pass the time.
The Central Market emerged in the Arabic Valencia, around the mosque ... much later, between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries it was a place for joust and equestrian tournaments... The current building is from the early twentieth century, the building is made of iron, glass and ceramics, and the central dome reaches 30 meters. The stalls are well organized ... fish and meat account for nearly half, followed by the deli and greengrocer, leaving a central part for spices, bakery and dried fruits. Everything looks very good indeed! There are still stands to be found outside to the sides of one of the main entrances, as if the market did not want to be locked in.
One of the things I've always loved is zoos. But then again, I also feel a lot of pity seeing the animals behind bars and in their eyes, a light that has slowly faded away.
With the arrival of the Bioparc, the city of Valencia joins a new concept of zoology with apparent freedom, surprising in its design and number of animals. Various environments from around the world, with their respective animals, are recreated on a circuit in which, on occasions, one needs to look at a map for orientation, like some sort of adventurer in the middle of the dry Amazon.
Now, I can visit the animals any number of times and not suffer seeing them in captivity, quite the opposite. Free.
The story of this garden is amazing, being that it is located on the old Turia riverbed. The terrible floods caused by the river brought so much misery to Valencia that they decided to get rid of it and in its place build a garden.
The result, inaugurated in 1986, is marvellous: over several blocks (the park has a total of 110 hectares) you can walk through a green park, crossed by antique bridges over 300 old years and dotted with fountains bordered by orange trees. The Turia Garden, much more than other urban public parks, is inhabited by a marvellous serenity.
This is due to it being at a lower level of the city meaning that the noises do not disturb. The Garden runs through the city from the Arts and Sciences complex to the Valencia Zoo.
This exceptional location, a UNESCO world heritage site, was built to facilitate trade in a period of economic expansion for Valencia. It is in the plaza del mercardo (market square), opposite the Church of the Two Johns, another work of art of the era.
The Silk Exchange was built between 1482 and 1533, and was used for the silk business, which contributed greatly to the expansion of the city. The room you enter first is the beautiful front office, where they set prices and is of a late Gothic style. It is a beautiful example of the power of the city at this time.
Later pass through the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange tree court) and another smaller room, which seemed to be some sort of restricted boardroom. The design of the exchange is inspired by that of Palma de Mallorca, built by Guillem Sagrera some thirty years earlier. The twisted columns and marble floors have been preserved very well.
It is very well preserved and admission is free. Do not miss it! An Example of the city’s power.
Miguelete Tower or Micalet tower (in Valencian) is known as the belfry of the Valencia Cathedral. It is a Gothic-style tower 51 meters tall (when we went up we had to stop a few times to get air), but I assure you it is worth since from above you can see all of Valencia.
The schedule is a bit tight (from 11:30 to 13:00), don’t believe that because the cathedral is open the tower will be too because it will surely be a let-down when we find it closed.
At specific times (such as the canonization of a saint) bell ringers ring the bells by hand, each one stands by one of the bells and plays a melody that can be heard for miles around. If we are visiting the tower at this moment they will let us stay to see how it’s done.
It is an imposing metal building of three aisles, the work of Francisco Mora, built in the early twentieth century. It is a good example of the European markets of the time and the modernist movement which arrived in Valencia belatedly. The renovation of this building was constructed in three phases, culminating a few years ago, it was very expensive but worth it.
It now houses florists, bookstores, coffee shops, etc... It's a nice place in downtown Valencia where you can go to hang out, drink coffee and buy a book; you can also admire a beautiful example of Valencian modernism.
Declared as a Historical Artistic Monument in 1931, these towers are part of the medieval Christian walls, as were the Torres de Quart, and their gates were symbols of power and importance. Pere Balaguer began construction on them in April of 1392, inspired in the other gothic gates found in Cataluña, and they soon defended one of the most used entryways to ancient Valencia. From 1586 to 1887 they were used as a jail for nobles.
The towers can be visited Tuesday to Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM and from 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM, Sundays and Holidays from 10 AM to 3 PM. The remain closed on Mondays.
The caste of Xátiva is simply surprising. If you go to Xativa with any other objective in mind, one of the first things you’ll notice is the Castillo standing on the top of the mountain, looking over the city.
Walking through the castle walls, leaning through what were once windows, walking through its patios and gardens, you can perfectly imagine how this place looked in the middle ages. It’s been very well conserved. The views of the area from the top of the castle are stunning, as well as the views of the rest of the castle from one extreme. It’s a very interesting visit if you’re new the city.
The Barrio del Carmen is one of the neighbourhoods that make up the historic old city of Valencia. It is an ancient precinct that grew between two walls: the Muslim and Christian new wall that protected them from the west.
Today it is a area that houses every category imaginable: from the typical hardware store where we can buy a typical Valencian paella frying pan to designer clothes shops. I recommend devoting a Saturday afternoon to this district to take a stroll around the streets with open trade.
It's a beautiful plaza, hidden behind the Valencia Cathedral. In the plaza you’ll find the Basílica de los Desamparados (the Basilica of the forsaken), a back door to the cathedral, that of the Apostles and other historic buildings, one is now the Palacio de la Generalitat (Government Palace), the other has become a public library ... All around the square is ancient, historical, and very harmonious. Furthermore, the plaza is quiet, pedestrian, like time has stopped. It's nice to come and sit in the evening when it is not so hot, children are playing, grandparents chatting, and life passes quietly.
In the centre of the plaza is the water fountain and main canal which represents the Turia River, now dry, and its importance to the region of Valencia. At night, it’s all lit up but not a harsh light, it’s warm, almost orange, reflected in the stone of buildings creating a very relaxed atmosphere.
Located in its surroundings are the civil buildings most representative of the city. Many still call it Plaza del Caudillo. The clock of the imposing Town Hall is known to give way to the mascletás during las fallas, at 14 hours, this is the plaza that is filled to overflowing with people ready to vibrate with fireworks during these holidays.
The Town Hall also houses the Municipal History Museum of Valencia, it holds the valuable Senyera, the banner of the Reconquista, the sword of James I and the Llibre dels Furs.
The Post Office is another gem recently finished, the stained glass windows are spectacular, don’t forget to come in and have a look.
The North railway station is in the vicinity of the plaza: it is one of the most valuable Art Nouveau buildings in the city, the Valencia themed mosaics make you to stop and admire.
The bullring, besides the station, is another important building. Neoclassical, with four arch galleries, it was built in 1860 and holds 17,000 spectators.
These classic buildings most representative of Valencia are concentrated in a small area.
The Plaza Redonda (Round Plaza) is a corner of Valencia, that wandering aimlessly, I found ... It has four entrances, one from the Plaza de Lope de Vega, and it is very near Valencia Cathedral.
As the name suggests, it has a circular plan. Forming another circle within the plaza, and around a fountain (also round :-)), there are painted wooden huts, antique, home to a business that in other cities is disappearing in silence: haberdashery. Indeed, it sells all kinds of threads, Pearls, lace...
Most traders are elders, and if you stay wandering around long enough taking photos or simply contemplating the ensemble, you can see how they sell, how they advise their clients, the old-fashioned way.
The outer perimeter, is made up of the houses themselves, it is also full of business’ premises, mostly selling crafts, one is a restaurant. You can see that it has been rehabilitated and they all show off wooden shutters that look good on this entirety.
Not to be missed, outside of all the usual tourist routes, it is worth a look, stay a while.