Valencia and its attractions

Valencia (in Valencian and officially, València) is a municipality and a city in Spain, capital of the province of the same name and of the Valencian Community. With a population of 801,545 inhabitants (as of 2020), which rises to 1,581,057 inhabitants if its suburban space is included, is the third most populated city and metropolitan area in Spain, behind Madrid and Barcelona.

The city is located on the banks of the River Turia on the Levantine coast of the Iberian Peninsula, right in the center of the Gulf of Valencia. At the time the Romans founded it, it was located on a river island in the Turia, about four miles away from the sea. About ten kilometers south of the city is the Albufera de Valencia, which has been owned by the Valencia City Council since it was bought in 1911 from the Crown of Spain for 1,072,980.41 pesetas.

The Albufera is one of the largest lakes in Spain with about 2,100 hectares of surface and an additional 14,100 hectares of marsh dedicated to rice cultivation. Due to its cultural, historical and ecological value, this natural area was the first natural park declared by the Generalitat Valenciana in 1986.

Its historic center is one of the largest in Spain at approximately 169 hectares, and its historical and monumental heritage and various scenic and cultural spaces make it one of the cities with the greatest influx of national and international tourism in the whole country. Among its most representative monuments are the Miguelete, the Cathedral, the Serranos and Quart Towers, the Lonja de la Seda (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996), and the City of Arts and Sciences.

Further, Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia is the most important pictorial museum in the Valencian Community and is the second art gallery in Spain, and the Valencian Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) aims to investigate and disseminate the art of the twentieth century.

Due to its long history, this is a city with innumerable festivals and traditions. Of particular note is Falles, declared as a festival of international tourist interest on January 25, 1965 and labeled as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO on November 30, 2016. Valencia is also home to the Tribunal de las Aguas, also declared in 2009 as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

In addition to this, Valencia has been and is currently the scene of various world events that have contributed to shaping the city and giving it an international reputation, such as the Regional Exhibition of 1909, the 32nd and the 33rd Copa América de vela, the European Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Open 500 tennis, and the Global Champions Tour of Horse Riding.

Main attractions

The Cathedral of Valencia is dedicated, at the wish of Jaime I in following the tradition of the thirteenth century, to Santa María, being consecrated in 1238 by the first bishop of Valencia Fray Andrés de Albalat after the reconquest. It is located on the old Balansiya mosque, which had been raised on the old Visigothic cathedral. The predominant construction style of this cathedral is Valencian or Mediterranean Gothic, although it also contains elements of Romanesque, French Gothic, and Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical.

A special value of the cathedral is the Holy Grail, one of the main Christian symbols.

The Basilica of the Virgin of the Forsaken. During the seventeenth century, numerous baroque constructions were erected in Valencia, most of them religious, and old Gothic buildings were transformed both internally and externally. The Royal Chapel of the Virgen de los Desamparados, categorized as a Basilica since 1872, was built between 1652 and 1666 by Diego Martínez Ponce de Urrana based on the designs made by the most important architects of the time, approved and very possibly guided by Juan Gómez de Mora, the King’s court painter.

The temple dedicated to Santa Catalina Mártir, located in the Plaza Virgen de la Paz, was built on a previous mosque.

In 1245, it had already acquired the rank of parish. It consists of a single nave, with lateral buttresses between which the chapels were placed. It is the only one of the city’s Gothic churches with an ambulatory at the head, just like the cathedral.

The primitive church of Santos Juanes was built in the suburb of the city known as La Boatella, where an old mosque was located. The old hermitage was built before 1240 over the mosque. It was located outside the walls of the Arab city, near the gates of Bab al-Qaysariya and La Culebra, and when the Christian wall was built, it already included Valencia.

The church of San Juan del Hospital was the first church built in Valencia, after the Cathedral, as a priory of the knights of the Order of San Juan de Jerusalem. Its founding is due to the concession made by King Jaime I during the conquest of Valencia to the San Juanist knight Hugo de Folcalquier, lieutenant of the Master of his order in the Crown of Aragon.

The Monastery of San Miguel de los Reyes is an important work of the Valencian Renaissance that, according to some authors, can be considered as a precedent of the El Escorial monastery, similar to the Jerónimo monastery, a cultural center and commemorative church of the memory of its founder. The first stone was laid in 1548 by the bishop and Ferdinand of Aragon, Duke of Calabria. The construction of the monastery lasted throughout the 17th century, starting the church of the monastery in 1601.

The Lonja de la Seda building is a Valencian civil Gothic masterpiece located in the historic center of the city. Declared in 1996 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is located in the Plaza del Mercado in front of the Church of the Santos Juanes and the Central Market of Valencia.

The Torres de Serranos are one of the twelve gates that guarded the old wall of the City of Valencia. Their name seems to come from the fact that they are located approximately to the northwest of the old town and, therefore, were the natural entrance that connected with the roads that went to Los Serranos.

The Palace of the Marqués de Dos Aguas, as it is known today, is the product of a radical reform carried out on the old manor house of the Rabassa de Perellós, owners of the Marquis of Dos Aguas, in the 1740s (18th century) in a bold Rococo style.

Palace of Justice of Valencia is another building from this period, originally the Royal Customs House, which was built in the time of Carlos III between 1758 and 1802. When the building was the Royal Customs, all the maritime trade went to Valencia, since it was one of the economic poles of 18th-century Spain.

The Plaza Redonda, with a singular round perimeter, was built in 1840 by the Valencian architect Salvador Escrig and is located next to the Church of Santa Catalina and the Plaza de la Virgen, in the historic center of the city.

Valencia’s bullring was built between 1850 and 1860 (19th century) on the site of a previous plaza that, due to budget problems, was never completed. It is neoclassical, inspired by Roman civil architecture, the theater of Flavio Marcelo (Colosseum), and the amphitheater of Nimes (France). It was built by the Valencian architect Sebastián Monleón Estellés. It is a 48-sided polygonal body, more than 17 meters high and 52 meters in diameter. With these dimensions, it is one of the largest squares in Spain.

Valencian Modernism

The Valencia Town Hall integrates in a slightly trapezoidal block, two well-differentiated period and style buildings: the House of Education, built on the initiative of the Archbishop Don Andrés Mayoral between 1758 and 1763; and the body of the building (the main façade), made between the second and third decades of the twentieth century in a marked modernist style. On March 1, 1962, through decree 474/1962 (BOE 9-03-62), the building was declared an asset of cultural interest (BIC); at the same time, it was declared a national historical-artistic monument.

Another of the most important modernist buildings in Valencia is the Estación del Norte, built between 1906 and 1917, taking advantage of the urban transformations of the city at the end of the 19th century to settle on a huge remaining site. It is one of the monuments most emblematic of the civil architecture of the city. The work, designed by the architect Demetrio Ribes, is framed in the modernist style, where the influences of the European side of the Sezession are appreciated, characterized by a modernism of straight lines in contrast to the most typical sinuous forms of Valencian modernism.

The Central Market building is another Valencian Modernist style construction. The construction began in 1914 by Francesc Guàrdia i Vial and Alexandre Soler i March, both trained at the Barcelona School of Architecture and having worked on the team of collaborators. It was also worked on by Domènech i Montaner, an architect who was characterized by his own style within the lines of modernism.

The Colón Market is another clear example of Valencian modernism from the early 20th century. This market was designed and carried out by the architect Francisco Mora Berenguer between 1914 and 1916. The market was inaugurated on December 24, 1916, Christmas Eve, and according to chronicles in the municipal newspapers, this was a spectacular event.

In the port area, there is another of the most important works of Valencian modernism: the Sheds of the Port of Valencia. The author and promoter was the engineer Federico G. de Membrillera, deputy director of the Port of Valencia at the end of the 19th century. Until the second half of the 19th century, the only existing port infrastructure in the Port of Valencia had been a simple wooden dock, and due to the increase in freight traffic in the port, there was a need to expand the infrastructure; therefore, the construction of six sheds was planned.

Santiago Calatrava Works

The Nueve de Octubre Bridge was built in the 80s of the 20th century by the then-not recognized Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, being this the first work of the architect in the city. This bridge stands out for the originality of its forms and for the four abstract sculptures that adorn its entrances.

Another work designed by Santiago Calatrava is the ensemble formed by the Bridge of the Exhibition and the Alameda metro station, which is located under the old Turia riverbed to which you have to go down to access the station. These works were inaugurated in 1995. As a curious note, the construction of both elements was simultaneous, with the work of the metro station being carried out in its final location, while that of the bridge was carried out in nearby land.

Finally, we must highlight the complex of the City of Arts and Sciences, one of the most popular areas of the city, designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. This complex was inaugurated over a decade, from April 16, 1998, when the Hemispheric was inaugurated, until October 31, 2009, with the opening of the Agora, although some details of this building are currently still being finalized due to demolition problems on the outskirts of its construction.

Museums

The city of Valencia, rich in monuments and architectural spaces of great interest, has more than fifty museums and exhibition halls, many of which were created thanks to the contributions of individuals through donations and private collections.

The most important plastic arts museums in the city are the San Pío V Museum of Fine Arts and the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM), which are spaces where permanent collections and temporary exhibitions can be seen and where different activities are designed for all citizens and visitors who come to the city. They are managed by various public administrations, corporations and private associations.

The González Martí National Museum of Ceramics and Sumptuary Arts, installed in the former Palace of the Marqués de Dos Aguas, an imposing Baroque building, contains the most complete collection of ceramic objects in Spain, and one of the most important in Europe.

There are also several historical museums, such as the Casa de las Rocas, which was built in the 15th century to serve as a museum; the Valencia History Museum, inaugurated on May 7, 2003 in a building that was originally the first deposit de Aguas de Valencia, which was built by Ildefonso Cerdá and Leodegario Marchessaux from an original design by Calixto Santa Cruz; or the Almoina museum, which was inaugurated on December 20, 2007 in the basement of the square of the same name, where numerous archaeological remains dated from the different civilizations that have inhabited the city are exposed—Roman, Visigoth and Islamic remains.

The collections of the paleontological museums are also historical. These have been exhibited since 1908 in the museums such as Almudín Museum; the Natural Sciences Museum; Viveros Gardens, where you can see unique geological and paleontological pieces; the Bullfighting Museum, next to the Plaza de Toros; the Rice Museum; or the Fallero Museum, mainly operating during fallero celebrations.

Others are dedicated to illustrious Valencians, such as the famous writer Blasco Ibáñez in his museum house, located in his old villa on Malvarrosa beach, or the Benlliure House Museum on Blanquerías Street, and the most recent of all, the House Concha Piquer Museum on Ruaya Street.

Avant-garde art finds its oldest space in the Sala Parpalló, dependent on the Diputación de Valencia, which was founded in 1980, being a pioneer in serving contemporary art. The benchmark for modernity is the City of Arts and Sciences, since it brings together several disciplines of art and culture in the same space, including several museums, aquariums, exhibition halls, projection rooms and recreational spaces, both open and in conditioned facilities.

In Valencia, there are also 39 municipal libraries, with more than 300,000 volumes, including the Valencia Public Library and the Valencian Library, whose headquarters are in San Miguel de los Reyes. In addition to this, in the capital of Turia, there is the Archive of the Kingdom of Valencia, which contains six centuries of the history of Valencia, first as a kingdom and currently as an autonomous community. This archive is managed by the Valencian Generalitat, although the state retains ownership of the documentary collections and the building. Another archive is the Municipal Historical Archive of Valencia, which is located in the Palacio de Cervelló and contains the documentary collections of the city.

Shopping

Central Market

This modernist construction is a must-see for shopping lovers, given its ample selection of foodie delights and architectural beauty. HOURS: from 7 AM to 3 PM

Poeta Querol Street

This shopping district boasts the city’s most exclusive stores, including famous international designers and luxury Spanish brands.

Colón Street and Eixample

Shoppers will find well-known high street brands and exclusive jewellery and interior design stores dotted along Calle Colón and its surrounding streets, as well as around Colón Market.

Ruzafa

The Ruzafa neighbourhood has enjoyed an upsurge in commercial activity in recent years, and its eclectic shopping establishments are certainly worth a visit.

Address: Calle Sueca, Literato Azorín, Cádiz and surrounding streets.

Avenue of France

Avenida de Francia, the extension of Calle Alameda and the exit towards El Saler, comprise a new shopping district which is home to a number of shopping centres, in addition to other stores with interesting offerings.

Cuisine and gastronomy

Valencia is known for its gastronomic culture. The paella (a simmered rice dish with meat (usually chicken, rabbit or seafood) was born in Valencia. Other traditional dishes of Valencian gastronomy include fideuà, arròs a banda, arròs negre (black rice), fartons, bunyols, the Spanish omelette, pinchos (or tapas) and calamares (squid).

Valencia was also the birthplace of the cold xufa beverage known as orxata, popular in many parts of the world, including the Americas.

There are 34 Michelin list restaurants in Valencia. More

Beaches

Valencia, the third largest city in Spain, fascinates with a unique flair, lots of charm and many impressive attractions. The wonderful beaches of Valencia also contribute to the fact that this city has become a really popular spot for city trips in Europe. Along a palm-lined promenade, there are kilometers of velvety-soft, sandy city-beaches; some of them are even awarded with the blue flag. More

Economy

At present, the city’s economy focuses on services; in fact, about 84% of the employed workforce belongs to the service sector. However, the city maintains an industrial base with an employed population percentage of 5.5%. On the other hand, agricultural activities, although having relatively minor importance with only 1.9% of the active population employed, survive in the municipal area in a total of 3,973 hectares, which are mostly occupied part by crops of orchard and citrus. More

Transport and how to get to?

Transport system in Valencia is regulated by a municipal ordinance on traffic, which was approved by plenary agreement on May 28, 2010.

The main highways in Valencia have a radial route, such as the V-21, the V-31, the A-3, the V-15 / CV-500, the CV-35 or the CV-36. But Valencia also has a series of ring roads around it, these are the By-pass, the V-30, which joins the A-7 with the city’s port, or the CV-30, which borders the northern area from the city. More

Education

With regard to regulated education, the Constitution states that there is a distribution of powers in educational matters among the various entities and administrations present in Spain. In this way, the General State Administration reserves the exclusive purpose to regulate the structure of the different educational levels and the conditions for obtaining, issuing and homologating academic and professional qualifications, while the Ministry of Education of the Generalitat Valenciana is responsible for:

The academic organization of early childhood education, primary education, compulsory secondary education, high school education, special regime education and adult education.

The elaboration of the official curricula corresponding to these teachings. More

Main information

Area: 134.6 sq. km (municipality)

Coordinates: 39°28′12″N 00°22′35″W

Population: 801 545 (municipality)

Languages: Spanish, Catalan

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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