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The original Valencia, Valentia Edetanorum, was founded in 138 a.c by the Roman Empire as a place of rest whilst on their European rampage. Today, in the 21st century, Valencia is a dynamic modern city so important in many ways that it has become the 3rd most important economy in Spain. Sitting on the mouth of the river Turia, Valencia is one of those unique places that has many to combine some of the most modern architecture with it’s rich historical jewels.
Some beautiful gothic buildings and medieval palaces along with one of largest historic town centres’ anywhere in Europe stand in the same city as more up to date and futuristic structures such as the Palacio de los Congresos designed by no other than Sir Norman Foster, there is an entire complex built in the city, home to the “Cuidad de las Artes y Ciencias”(City of Arts and Science) by Santiago Calatrava, which is so unique by design that you would be mistaken for thinking that it was from a movie set, all this without losing a shred of its identity.
This is the Port of Spain to the Mediterranean, open not only to the sea but to all who visit there also. Discover one of Valencia’s many beaches such as La Malvarrosa or Levante or simply stroll though its streets and gardens is a pleasure to behold. This with the fact that there is a gastronomic offering here to wonder at makes a trip to Valencia whether for leisure or business an absolute delight. The thought of Valencia instantly conjures the image of one of Spain’s most famous culinary creations, “Paella”, and nowhere on the peninsula, is it done better than here.
But with an endless list of rice dishes to try most of which married up with the local seafood offering you are in a gastronomic paradise. And if you want to party after the relentless eating out then you have come to the right place, the city is also known for its nightlife or “marcha” and has some of the best clubs and shows in the country.
Lonja de la Seda: One of the most beautiful gothic buildings in Europe, Pere Compte built this masterpiece for the most part, in the 15th century as a sign of the cities wealth. This fortress with its thick stonewalls, reminds you of a medieval castle however a glance its gargoyles and main centre tower reminds you of the importance it heralds to the city. Declared as a world heritage site it is made up of four main different parts, the tower, and the consulate of the sea’s hall, the Orange Patio and the community hall.
Catedral de Santa María: Initially a site of an Arabian mosque, then later, a roman temple today’s cathedral sits on some rich historic ground. The construction work started in 1262 until 1426, with continual facelifts right up till the 17th century, and for this reason the cathedral despite being of its original gothic origins has taken on a somewhat mixed architectural style. It’s main entrance or the “ Door to the Palace” is grand in itself but inside beautiful prayer hall you’ll discover the beautiful dome, crafted in the name of Saint Caliz. Here you will also find a glass from 1. b.c said to be used by Jesus Christ himself. This building is also home to “Miguelete” the impressive bell tower, which is one of the symbols of Valencia, if you are feeling fit, climb it’s 200+ stairs to get an excellent view of the city.
Iglesia de los Santos Juanes: Sitting right in front of the Lonja de la Seda, you find this beautiful little chapel, originally gothic in design, after a number of fires it has taken on a baroque look. Classed as a Historic Artistic National Monument the façade of this building, looking on to the square is what strikes you the most, take a close look however and you can marvel at the clock tower which is surrounded by the saints after which the chapel was named, there is also a beautiful central sculpture inside depicting the Virgin Rosario. Sitting right next door, quite in contrast to its neighbour but not looking out of place is the modern “Mercado Central”, a reminder of the style of this city that blends looks like a model on the catwalk.
Torres de Serranos: From the 16th century to the end of the 19th this building was a prison, home to some of the cities nobles and gentlemen. Originally built in the 14th century by Pere Balaguer on the ancient walls of the city it is a testament to medieval architecture.
La Alameda: More than a kilometre long this is the most significant park in the city, with it’s abundance of lush vegetation, the incredible fountains and the two towers, Saint Felipe and Saint Jaime today’s park runs from the Real and Aragon bridges. However prior to its reconstruction in 1932 it was the gateway to the royal palaces and was the only methods to enter the Palace from the sea, only to be used by nobles and royalty.
Museo de las Artes y las Ciencias: In the middle of the Natzaret neighbourhood you will find some of the most surprisingly stylish and modern buildings by design anywhere in the world. The whole complex a work of Santiago Calatrava this construction gazed upon from above in one of the nearby hotels, or for that matter, from any angle is a modern day masterpiece in architecture. Inside besides it’s 3d cinema Cine Planetario- L’Hemisferic you can find the biggest oceanographic in Europe. The interactive museum Museo de las Ciencias Principe Felipe is also another fantastic attraction to be found here. If bringing the younger traveller be sure to take them to the dolphin exhibition.
Parque de Gulliver y Zoo: Yet another 2 places for the children, Parque Gulliver are some of the best gardens to take the kids to with toboggans, skate parks and fun and games to keep them amused. The latter “Zoo” as you can imagine is a little more of a family affair, right in the middle of the gardens of Real Viveros enjoy the various animals on display from giraffes, urangutangs, etc., etc.
Museo de Bellas Artes: Home to some of the best works from primitive and gothic times, this is without doubt the 2nd most important museum after Prado. To be found on calle San Pio V, museum is classed as a place of cultural importance.
Mercadillos: Sunday is the day to visit the cities markets a couple of which are of particular significance, Surprisingly enough one of which can be found in the Plaza del Mercado or” Market Square” the second of which found on the steps of the Mestalla, home to Valencia’s main football club
Casino Monte Picayo: With fantastic views and just as impressive restaurant this casino offers just more than a night on the tiles. It’s a gamblers paradise with 18 separate playing table and only 20 kilometres even if you don#t gamble it is still well worth the visit.