A WORLD TO
where you can share your trips
At the end of November 2016, I went to Valencia for 3 days for a congress. Although I didn't have much time to visit the city, I could
take a guided tour of the historic centre and a night walk in the area of the City of Arts and Sciences. This first approach was a pleasant surprise
that made it clear that I have to return soon to get to know the city and its surroundings better.
Getting There & Around
We went to Valencia by train from Barcelona, with the Euromed line. The journey, from Sants station in Barcelona to Joaquin Sorolla station in Valencia,
with stops in Tarragona and Castellon, takes between 3 and 3.5 hours. The seats are very comfortable and spacious, leaving plenty of space to stretch your
legs. Luggage can be placed on a shelf above the seats or in the compartments between the cars.
Where to Stay & Eat
We stayed at the Hotel AC Valencia (Marriott), a 4-star hotel with all the comforts of its category: well-kept rooms with minibar and desk,
bathroom with a large bathtub, and a good breakfast buffet. Located at the confluence of Calle Menorca and Avenida de Francia, it is a five minute
walk from the City of Arts and Sciences.
Most of the meals were organized by the congress at the university, but we did have dinner a couple of days in some restaurants:
Located near our hotel and the City of Arts and Sciences, we really liked this restaurant, especially for the quality of the food, which was delicious.
Although the prices on the menu were somewhat expensive, there were night menus at a good price (although drinks were not included) with original and
In the heart of the historical centre, in Cavallers street near the Plaza de la Virgen, it also offered night menus and the food was quite good
(although not as good as in the previous one). However, they were very slow and we had problems to pay separately.
What to See & Do
Despite the limited time we had, we could discover some of the main hidden treasures in the historical center of the city, as well as take a tour around
the well-known City of Arts and Sciences.
CITY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
- City of Arts and Sciences
This modern and mastodontic work of architecture is a world famous symbol of the city of Valencia. Built by the architect Santiago Calatrava, the
complex has unmistakable touches of his style, such as the domes of the buildings or the bridge. The buildings house spaces dedicated to scientific
and cultural dissemination: the Hemisfèric, which contains a cinema and IMAX; the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum; the Reina Sofía Palace of Arts;
the Oceanogràfic (the largest aquarium in Europe); the Umbracle, an elongated semi-covered space full of palm trees, or the Agora events building.
The visit at night is even more aesthetic than during the day, as the lighting of the buildings and fountains creates a funny game of light and shadows
over the water.
- Plaza del Mercado (Market Square)
A small triangular-shaped square, which today barely resembles a square and gets lost in the alleys. A place where diverse functions were developed
throughout history (public executions, bullfights, markets, or a place where parents went to look for work for their children), today it is surrounded
by three important buildings from different historical moments: the famous Lonja, the Church of the Santos Juanes and the Central Market.
- Church of the Santos Juanes
Gothic in origin, it suffered several fires and the Baroque reconstructions give it its definitive appearance. Its clock tower is crowned by a weather
vane called "Pardal de Sant Joan" ("Saint John's Bird").
- Llotja de la Seda
One of the most important historical monuments in the city, this 15th century building has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The detailed sculptures in the portico represent in detail the capital sins, and had an educational function at the time, to show good and evil to the people.
Also noteworthy are the battlements and the curious gargoyles, one of which is shaped like a woman with her hands on her genitals and indicates the direction
of the brothel of the time.
- Central Market
Modernist building, which currently still serves as a marketplace. The interior is decorated with orange symbols (a well-known element in Valencia).
It also has a weather vane, in the shape of a parrot, known with the funny metaphor with a double meaning of "the parrot of the market", which also appears
in the logo of the market.
- Portal de la
Dated around 1400, it is a gate that the Christians opened on the ancient Arabic wall, to facilitate the passage of the inhabitants. While the spectacular
Torres de Serranos and Torres de Cuarte, among other sections, still remain from the Christian wall, the Portal de la Valldigna is one of the few remains
of the Arabic wall. In medieval times, this gate linked the old part of the town with the Moorish quarter.
Nearby there is a commemorative plaque in the place where the printing press used to be, where the first book in Spain was printed in the 15th century
(during the Spanish Golden Age). It was also at this time, at the height of trade, that the University of Valencia and the Lonja were created.
- Carrer dels Cavallers
Historical pedestrian street, which leads to the Plaza de la Virgen. It leads to many narrow streets in the old town and today is a commercial and gastronomic hub,
with a wide range of restaurants and bars where you can drink the famous "Agua de Valencia" (a drink made from orange juice, vodka and cava). The Palau
de la Generalitat Valenciana is also located at the end of this street.
- Plaça de la Verge
Located on the ancient Roman forum, today it houses the Almoina Archaeological Centre, which displays the Roman remains found under the square.
From these we can deduce the location of the two main routes, the baths and the bases of the columns of the forum. The imposing Font del Turia is now located
above the Roman temple. However, this square, surrounded by the cathedral, the Basilica of the Virgen de los Desemparados and other historical monuments
of interest, was an important site also in later times and even today, hosting the floral offerings of the Fallas, a festival known internationally
and recently declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
- Cathedral of
Santa Maria de Valencia
Predominantly in the Valencian Gothic style, this cathedral clearly mixes a series of influences, which are reflected in its unique architectural elements,
such as its three doors (one in Romanesque, one in Gothic and one in Baroque style), the bell tower, popularly known as "El Micalet";
or the north-western arcade, called "Obra Nova", in the Italian Renaissance style resembling a Roman amphitheatre.
The Water Tribunal, an institution of justice to solve the problems of the irrigation channels, was created around 960 and continues to meet
every Thursday at noon in front of the Gothic door of the cathedral. It has been declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The Romanesque or l'Almoina door is the oldest one, and its upper part features stone figures showing the heads of 7 couples.
Legend has it that they are the 7 couples that came from Lleida to repopulate Valencia after the expulsion of the Arabs from the peninsula.
- Basilica of Mare de Déu dels
Located in Plaça de la Verge, this is the sanctuary of the Virgen de los Desamparados, Patron Saint of Valencia, affectionately known as
"la Geperudeta" (the hunchback), because of the shape of the figure, since it originally had a lying configuration, with a pillow to raise its head,
and when it was raised it looked inclined, creating this effect.
In the back streets of the cathedral and the square, you will find this old grain store of Arab origin.
- Prison of Sant
Small rectangular building nearby, with a chapel dedicated to St. Vincent and a column where they say the martyr was whipped.
- Casa del Punt de
Adjacent to the previous one, this building corresponds to the modernist period, and on its façade it has the entrance to the chapel of San Valero.
Plaça de la Verge, Font del Túria and Cathedral