10 VISITS TO THE CITY OF VALENCIA IN SPAIN
In a dreamy seaside setting, this modest Mediterranean port city lives up to the local saying "a piece of heaven on earth". Under the warm southern sun, Valencia's palm-lined squares come alive and the colourful tile domes of its churches sparkle. As the former capital of the Kingdom of Valencia, the city is rich in cultural attractions. Magnificent historical monuments such as the 15th-century Silk Exchange, the 18th-century Marquis' Palace and the Museum of Fine Arts bear witness to a rich merchant and aristocratic past.
Valencia has a charming historic centre, the Ciutat Vella (Old Town), but the city has moved well into the 21st century. The elegant Academy of Modern Art and the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences immerse visitors in a new world of artistic and scientific discovery. Discover the best places to visit with our guide to the top attractions and things to do in Valencia, Spain.
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1. The City of Arts and Sciences
Explore a fascinating world of art and science in this futuristic complex on the periphery of Valencia The City of Arts and Sciences is one of the most impressive cultural and scientific exhibition centres in Europe.
Covering an area of two kilometres along the banks of the River Turia, the complex contains several fine examples of avant-garde architecture designed by the architects Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela.
Le complexe de la Ciudad comprend six espaces principaux : le cinéma IMAX Hemisfèric, qui projette des films numériques en 3D et sert de planétarium, l’espace paysager Umbracle, avec des allées ombragées, le Museu de les Ciències, un musée interactif présentant la science, l’environnement et la technologie, et le cinéma. l’Oceanogràfic, le plus grand aquarium d’Europe, l’opéra Palau de les Arts et l’espace de concert Ágora.
The Cité des arts et des sciences also hosts conferences, exhibitions and workshops on scientific and artistic subjects.
2. Las Fallas Festival
Valencia is one of the best places to visit in March For two weeks in March, the Fiesta de San José is a lively religious festival, filled with creative spirits and fun events, which transforms the city into a joyous celebration. The festival includes traditional music and food (paella), parades, fireworks and unique art exhibitions. The festival is known for its innovative installations called fallas, large floats with paper figures. The works were placed in the streets before being burned at midnight on the last day of the festival.
This custom originated in the Middle Ages, when carpenters and other craftsmen burned the remains of wood and other materials on St Joseph's Day. The Museo Fallero (Fallas Museum) in Piazza Monteolivite gives you the opportunity to see ninots (people) created over the years. It is interesting to see how ninos have evolved with technology, from the first wax figures wearing real clothes to modern cartoon figures made of paper pulp and more recently polystyrene.
3. Oceanogràfic de València
Designed by the architect Félix Candela, this remarkable building is part of the Cité des arts et des sciences and houses the largest aquarium in Europe. It is in fact a complex of several buildings, each dedicated to one of the most important marine ecosystems and environments on the planet: Wetlands, Temperate and Tropical, Oceanic, Mediterranean, Antarctic, Arctic and Island, and Red Sea 45,000 marine creatures representing more than 500 different marine species can be seen in nine towers, giving you the impression of being underwater. The most remarkable are the tunnels, where you are surrounded on two sides and where swimming sharks pass over your head
Among the most popular sights are beluga whales, sea lions, walruses, penguins, seals, turtles and dolphins. While observing the marine life, you can discover mangroves, wetlands, kelp forests and other wetlands with their native plant species.
4. La Lonja de la Seda
Built in the 15th century, this imposing Gothic building houses the city's silk exchange, where the famous Valencian silk was traded with merchants (and sold throughout Europe) The monument is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
One of the finest examples of Gothic civil architecture in Europe, La Lonja de la Seda resembles a medieval castle with its sloping facade and formidable towers. The facade is adorned with doors, ornamental windows and gargoyles (grotesquely carved creatures that function as water spouts). The main hall has rich star vaults supported by twisted columns.
5. Go Shopping at Mercado Central
A few steps from La Lonja de la Seda is the Mercado Central (Central Market), a sprawling market built in 1928.
The Art Nouveau building is lavishly decorated with azulejos, decorative ceramics typical of the region. The market has hundreds of stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables and groceries from Valencia and other parts of Spain.
The magnificent historic Iglesia de los Santos Juanes is located in the Plaza del Mercado, next to the central market. This national historic and artistic monument was built between the 14th and 16th centuries on the site of a hermit church that replaced a former mosque.
6. Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari y San Pedro Mártir de València
This church is dedicated to St. Bari and St. Nicholas the Martyr and was founded in the 13th century on the site of the Roman sanctuary. The Romanesque church was renovated in Gothic style in the 15th century and its interior was completed in Baroque style in the 1690s.
Although the exterior is very austere and dark, the church has an ornate interior, one of the most ornate of all the churches in Valencia. The sanctuary has superb wall and ceiling frescoes designed by Antonio Palomino, while the actual painting was done by Dionis Vidal. The frescoes depict scenes from the lives of Saint Nicholas and Saint Peter the Martyrs.
7. Admire the Catedral de València
The Catedral de València (Catedral del Santo Cáliz) stands out for its architectural styles, making it one of the most unusual cathedrals in Spain. Initially, the site originally housed an ancient Roman temple and later a Moorish mosque.
In this historical place, the cathedral was built in the 13th. It was renovated in the 15th and 17th centuries.
8. Plaza de la Virgen
The elegant Neptune Fountain, located in the centre of the Plaza Virgen, is the work of the Valencian sculptor Sylvester Edita. Well lit at night, it is a favourite spot for locals.
There are several emblematic buildings around the square. Across the square is the Palacio de la Generalitat, and next to the Catedral de València is the Real Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados, Valencia's most important (and first) Baroque church The church is famous for its magnificent frescoes on the domed ceiling, painted by Antonio Palomino in 1701 and considered a masterpiece of Spanish Baroque art
9. Iglesia de Santo Tomás y San Felipe Neri
This beautiful church illustrates Valencia's unique Mediterranean style with its dazzling blue-tiled dome. The church of St Thomas and St Philip was built in 1725 and was declared a national historic site in 1982.
10. Animals at Bioparc València
Valencia Zoo covers 25 hectars in the north of a park created by diverting the river Turia. The landscape has been created to bring the animals as close as possible to their habitat, and the zoo is known for its large collection of African animals.
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