In my first post about Valencia (and my first blog about Spain too!) you’ll read about ten unmissable attractions without which you trip would not be complete.
The only thing I regret is that I wasn’t visiting the city during festivals: the Fallas, Valencia’s main festival, the Mascleta festival, or La Tomatina. A good reason to return, right?
1 Valencia Cathedral
Saint Mary’s Cathedral, or Valencia Cathedral, connects two most visited city squares: Plaza de la Reina and Plaza de la Virgen. It was erected on a place that was believed to be sacred first by the Romans, then by muslims, and, finally, by Catholics. Built on the site of a Roman temple, which later became a mosque, the origins of the cathedral date back to the 13th century.
Apart from being very attractive from the outside, it has some treasures within too. First of all, it contains a cup which is acclaimed to be a Holy Grail which witnessed the Last Supper itself. No one can truly verify it (religion doesn’t require proof anyway does it?) – however, in the cathedral there are indisputable art treasures as well: those are Goya paintings in the San Francisco de Borja chapel.
You can also climb the 13th century Miguelete bell tower which name comes from the main clock bell called el Micalet. The city panorama must’ve been lovely but we opted to miss this opportunity.
2 La Llotja de la Seda
Absolutely incredible 15th-century Llotja de la Seda, or Silk exchange, is definitely worth being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its gothic architecture is astonishing: the Great Hall, or Sala de Contratacion, with twisted columns reflects its wealth in the 15-16 centuries trade. They look like proper decorations to some historical movie don’t they?
I fell in love with its orange garden too – for the girl who was born in severe Russian climate, the gardens like this look like proper Eden on Earth.
3 Valencia’s Central Market
Although you might’ve been surprised that I put Central Market, or Mercado Central, so high on the list, but this one is definitely worth a visit! You can try all sorts of local food, the tills are bursting with fresh fruits, freshly squeezed juices, fish and meat. Besides that, the building dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, is too pretty itself as well!
4 The narrowest building of Europe
Visiting the narrowest building of Europe (and possibly of the world, but no one knows for sure 🙂 ) is less amusing that, say, the narrowest street in Prague which has its own traffic lights, but is still worth doing it. It is located on the Lope de Vega square and is adjacent to La Estrecha bar.
Interesting: there is a street in Bratislava, Slovakia, that is also argued to be the narrowest in Europe. The narrowest building in the world is said to be Brazilian Casa del Metro.
5 Torres de Serranos gates
As every decent old city, Valencia had massive fortifications in Medieval times. Only two gates out of 12 are remaining today. We decided to climb the Torres de Serranos built by Perl Balaguer in 1392-1398 and to enjoy the panorama of Valencia from it.
This triumphal gate was used to be the main gate above all and still play its role in the more modern history of the country too – for instance, during the Spanish Civil War. The Fallas festival also starts here.
Torres de Quart date back to the 15th century. Both remain in a very good condition and still blend perfectly into the surrounding architecture.
6 National Ceramic Museum
I sincerely advise you to pop into the Museo Nacional de Cerámica for several reasons. First of all, its alabaster facade representing two local rivers, Turia and Júcar, is a real piece of art. I liked it so much on the pics I googled before our trip – but imagine my disappointment when I found it … in scaffolding! The silver lining for you is that, most possibly, it’ll be freshly reconstructed when you visit Valencia.
Secondly, it’s a real-life 15th century palace – the Palace of the Marquis of Dos Aguas – that once was considered one of the best in Valencia. Since then details and architectural elements in different styles were added, and you have an opportunity to explore them all during you visit.
Finally, the collection of ceramics itself from prehistoric times is really good! But please don’t ask me about the creature on the first plate, I’m not sure what is that 🙂
7 City of Arts and Sciences
No way you’ll be left unimpressed by the City of Arts and Sciences, a complex of several futuristic buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félx Candela!
It reminded me of Dubai a bit – all in white and blue, they were even visible from our plane. There are several buildings divided into zones:
As we were limited in time and we fancy all sorts of fauna, we went to the latter – and had so much fun! This marine complex is a home to fish, turtles, sharks, dolphins, numerous birds, belugas, penguins and many more other marine animals from all over the world, and the educational side of it is quite good too. I sincerely suggest you to dedicate a few hours for visiting it!
If you have spare money and more time, I’d suggest you to visit the underwater restaurant as well – a perfect piece of Atlantis The Palm in Spain – check my blog about Dubai if interested!
8 Turia Gardens
Up to the 50s, the river Turia was cutting the city into two. Howerer, to prevent future floodings (there were precedents in history), it was diverted, and now a magnificent park called The Turia Gardens occupies its old bed. Just walk there, do some sport activities or…
9 Bridges over Turia’s old bed
There are a few astonishing bridges that connect what used to be banks of Turia river once (see above). Some of them are quite new, others are astonishingly ancient. I suggest you to explore at least Puente del Mar, Puente del Real and Puente de las Flores. I sincerely don’t understand why they are so rarely mentioned in Valencia’s guides!
Valencia is well-known for its beaches and transparent waters of Mediterranean Sea, and the most famous of them all is called La Malvarrosa.
Even if you’re not interested in lying all day long on the sand, at least have a brief seaside walk and explore the port of Valencia!
Interesting: You can also pop into the Iglesia de Santa Maria del Mar near the port!
What else to see:
Bioparc, Valencian Institute of Modern Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of the History of Valencia, Parque Gulliver.
Hope you liked today’s blog!
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Anna | London & Beyond
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