The third biggest city in Spain enchants with its cultural diversity – impressive monuments, modern art and sport emotions. It is a place where history, nature and trade intertwine and create a magnificent whole.
The city’s name comes from Latin valens, which means “strong”. Valencia was founded in 138 BC by Romans ruling the present territory of Spain. A few centuries later (from 712 until 1238) Valencia was under Arab rule, after which the power was given to James I the Conqueror, the king of Aragon. The intensive development of the city’s economy and culture was, however, influenced primarily by the new inhabitants who arrived to Valencia between the 14th and 15th centuries. It was at this time that many buildings, which are today considered gems of architecture, were erected. Although centuries have passed since then, Valencia is still an important industrial, cultural, scientific and financial centre of Spain. Tourists are attracted to the intriguing maze of streets with restaurants or inns, where they can rest and have a glass of wine – it is where the locals spend some lazy time and foreign visitors savour traditional cuisine. The city, however, is mostly famous for extensive squares, monuments, museums and parks. It is both bustling and calm, encouraging a slow feast for all senses.
Most famous for:
spring Las Fallas: “Festival of fire” that takes place in March.
Famous historical monuments:
La seu cathedral, Jadri Botanic, Basilica de la Virge dels Desamparats.
Most interesting architecture styles:
A breakthrough moment in history:
James I the Conqueror seizing the city; Christianisation and an influx of people in the 14th and 15th century.
One definitely needs to see:
Fallero Museum – a one-of-a-kind Fallas Museum.
Something for gourmets:
aromatic olives prepared in accordance with local recipes, paella valenciana – rice with chicken meat, rabbit, saffron, artichokes, beans and green peas.
A place for a walk:
the southern part of the Gulf of Valencia together with a lighthouse.
Off the beaten track:
the town of Buñol, located 50 km from Valencia, where on the last Wednesday of August, Tomatina – a tomato fight – takes place.
The Holy Grail of Valencia
The Cathedral, called in Catalan La Seu, is considered the greatest medieval sacred monument in Valencia. It replaced the mosque which had been in this place until 1229. The Cathedral had been built for over 400 years, and thus its structure comprises many architectural styles: French and Mediterranean Gothic is intermixed with Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassicism. It is decorated with the characteristic Miguelete tower, the symbol of Valencia.
One of the chapels, named the Chapel of the Holy Chalice, hides a priceless relic – the Holy Grail that, according to the Catholic tradition, is the chalice used during the Last Supper.Every Thursday, the Tribunal of Waters, which is an institution of Justice to settle disputes arising from the irrigation and distribution water of the Turia, meets at Puerta del Palau, the oldest entrance to the temple – this custom is entered on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The Palace of the Marquis of Dos Aguas is a gem in the crown of Valencian architecture – this stunning, superbly well detailed building is an example of Spanish Rococo style. The entrance to the palace is decorated with two statues of Hercules, at whose feet you can find jars with water
that symbolically flows to two Valencian rivers: the Turia and the Júcar. The building houses the National Museum of Ceramics with enormous number of exhibits and a collection of Pablo Picasso’s artworks.
Lonja de la Seda, that is, the Silk Exchange, is one of the most valuable monuments of the Medieval Europe. The building was erected in 16th century and served as a place
for trade of high-quality silk fabrics. It astonishes with is 16-meter high column hall, which leads to an orange garden and a tower that surmounts the building.
Gardens instead of a river
The Turia Gardens are recreational areas created in the old bed of the river Turia. In 1957, the river flooded Valencia, and therefore it was decided to divert it in order to protect the city from possible further floods. Today, the Turia’s path is altered
to be safe for the city and its inhabitants. The old riverbed was transformed into a green area – tourists may use the alleys, well-equipped playgrounds, skate parks, and sports fields – all of them additionally enriched with numerous sculptures and small architecture.
Leisure, sciences and art
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, i.e. the City of Arts and Sciences, is the symbol of Valencia (not only in the architectural sense). Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, this building complex is made up of a 3D cinema, impressively big concerts halls, the museum of science and technology, and the largest oceanographic aquarium in Europe. You can hide from the heat
Jardín Botánico, where alleyways are shaded by patulous palm leaves. Of course, Valencia also offers excellent rest and relaxation on the beaches of the Balearic Sea, e.g. Playa de la Malvarossa – the golden sand, the sound of the waves, and the sunlight will help you instantly regenerate your body and mind.
Valencia CF football club
Triumphator of Primera División, led by captain Enzo Pérez.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento
The town hall square is the biggest square in Valencia with an impressive, baroque style town hall building.
Mercado Central Market
A market where you can buy fruit, bread, fresh fish, sea food and traditional Spanish ham.