Visiting Valencia, Valencia Travel
When most people think about what they look for when visiting Spain, then they will often look for two main things. Either they will be thinking about the fantastic beaches that Spain has to offer, or the magnificent architecture and culture that Spain has to offer. What Valencia has to offer though is the best of both worlds. Not only is it perfectly situated on the Costa del Tarongers, literally translated the Orange Tree Coast, but it also has a wealth of architecture, ranging from the traditional to the modern, and some fantastic attractions to visit.
When you first visit Valencia, you will be looking to see the sights of the city and this is one area where Valencia certainly is not lacking. It is a city where most of the architecture in the Gothic style, but there are both Baroque and Romanesque aspects to the city as well. The first time that you enter Valencia, if your guide is of quality, then coming past one of the original medieval gatehouses which still stand as part of the old city walls will give you a real sense of the history and the conflicts surrounding the city which needed these imposing towers to defend the city.
As with most historical architecture in Spain, it has generally been inspired by the two main driving forces in the country, its leaders and its religion. One of the first places to head if you are sightseeing is the stunning St Mary’s Cathedral, which was first consecrated in the thirteenth century and dedicated by James I. You may however have to join a long line of pilgrims when you visit the cathedral, because in one of the chapels in the cathedrals is a chalice which has been generally acknowledged by most Christian scholars to be the most likely candidate to be the holy chalice that was used in the last supper of Christ.
Another of the places you must visit whilst in Valencia is the famed silk market, which has been acknowledged by UNESCO to be a world heritage site. It was a project which took over 50 years spanning the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and built at the height of Valencia’s economic prosperity. The main difference with the silk exchange as opposed to most other buildings from that period is that it is a secular building constructed by an union of the traders of the city, rather than one inspired by leaders or religion.
After a hard day’s sightseeing around Valencia, then it is certain that you will have worked up a healthy appetite, and there is no better place to investigate the local cuisine. One of the best known local dishes you will find in Valencia is paella. It is a rice based dish, and combines meat or seafood along with peas and peppers. Dishes combining rice and cuttlefish are also common fare in the coastal city.
However, Valencia also enjoys a variety of meats which have historically been easily accessible, so barbecuing lamb chops or sausages is also a very popular meal.
After a restful night in one of the hotels overlooking the sea, you will certainly be eager to venture back in to the streets of Valencia to see more of what this wonderful city has to offer. Many of the streets within the medieval city are limited to pedestrians only, so are a wonderful place to go for a relaxing walk in the morning, away from the hustle and bustle of the modern city.
Dotted around the city are also its famous bakeries. Pastries and cakes make a wonderful break from travelling around the city, and will give you time to relax and watch as the rest of the city continues to move around you. The sweet treats are typical of this part of Spain, and as well as being delicious, will give you that boost of energy to go on to the next part of your visit.
After spending time amongst the historical and gothic architecture of Valencia, there is another stunning side to this city, which is entirely more contemporary. There are a number of modern buildings which have been designed by some of the world’s most accomplished architects and have helped transform the image of Valencia from the industrial city that it was until the early 1990s, to the modern metropolis that it is today.
Among the best examples of this city is found in the City of Arts and Sciences, a complex of buildings which has at it’s heart L'Hemisfèric, a wonderfully flowing building which houses and IMAX cinema, planetarium and laserarium. When viewed from across the artificial lake at night, when the building is fully lit and reflecting on the water, it is a sight that will take your breath away, and stay with you forever. In the same complex you will find the oceanographic aquarium, designed by Felix Candela and is another magnificent example of modern architecture. Designed to mimic the shape of a water lily, its practicality as Europe’s largest open-air oceanographic aquarium is also unrivalled.
If you are fortunate enough to be in Valencia when there are performances taking place at the El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, it is a magnificent venue which will add magic to the already spectacular performance of opera and theater which take place there. Another wonderful venue in Valencia is L'Àgora, which is home to the Valencia 500 tennis event, and hosts many other magnificent sporting occasions in the city.
Whilst many people will love many of the sports on show in the city, Valencia is really one of the powerhouses of football in Spain, and its team has been consistently competing at national and European levels, and beating some of the best teams in the world. If you are a true football fan, then combining your stay with a visit to the Mestalla ground to see a game, or even the local derby against Levante, Villareal or Hercules will show you an atmosphere which is both passionate and noisy.
After another busy day in Valencia, if you still have the energy to go out in the evening, the wonderful restaurants of the city will give you a variety of tastes and styles of cooking to try, and having both seafood and agriculture prevalent around Valencia, much of the food that you will be able to eat will have been sourced locally. There are also many vineyards in the area, so it’s possible that both your food and wine will have a low carbon footprint and will have been produced within a short radius of where you are dining.
After a revitalizing meal, you may well start to look for the local nightlife, and the clubbing scene in the city is particularly vibrant, with many of the clubs and discotheques playing music until dawn if you have the energy to dance the night away. ‘La Floridita’ and ‘El Carme’ are two of the most popular nightclubs in this city which is as modern and cosmopolitan as it is historic.
One of the best times of the year to visit Valencia if you enjoy a celebration is between the twelfth and the nineteenth of March every year, as this is when the ‘Las Fallas’ festival takes place. There are towering statues which are the culmination of months of work by many of the artists in the city which become part of a parade, and there are hundreds of thousands of fireworks and firecrackers which are released in the culmination of the vibrant and noisy celebration that heralds the arrival of spring.
After all that Valencia has to offer in the city itself, you will likely be looking forward to a more relaxing day or two, and where better to enjoy these than on the long sandy beaches surrounding the city which are all easily accessible from the centre of the city. A dip in the Mediterranean’s clear blue waters can be wonderfully refreshing and relaxing, and the Pineda and Malvarrosa beaches both have blue flags and are wonderful for some time out from the hustle and bustle of the city itself.
Slightly further down the coast is La Albufera Natural Park, which also has some fantastic beaches at Saler and Devesa. If you prefer your beaches a little more rural and isolated, then these are the places to go, with both having a blue flag, and Devesa being a nudist beach.
Once you’ve decided that you are looking for a holiday, then it is the time to start looking for places that will tick all the boxes you’re looking for. Whether you are looking for the destination that gives you golden sandy beaches, beautiful sunshine and great nightlife, or if you’re looking for a historic and beautiful place to go with plenty of attractions to visit and see, why not choose the city that has all of these things. That city is the cosmopolitan gem sitting on the beaches of the Orange Tree Coast, Valencia.