Valencia, a city of over 800.0000 inhabitants, is the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona, and also the third Spanish economic and industrial center. It is one of the most dynamic cities in the nation. The city is located on the Mediterranean Sea and is also an important port, one of the most active in the Mediterranean, from where 20% of Spanish exports pass. In 2007 and 2010 Valencia hosted the sailing America’s Cup.
The origin of Valencia is traced back to the foundation of a Roman military settlement around 140 BC. During the empire it was one of the main cities in the province of Hispania Tarraconensis. In the Middle Ages, Valencia was occupied by the Visigoths and in 711 by the Arabs. During the Arab domination it was called Balansiya.
Valencia was liberated by Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (El Cid) in 1094. But it was again re-occupied by the Almoravids in 1102. In 1238 Valencia was definitively freed by Jaime I of Aragon. Thanks to the development of Spain, in the 15th and 16th centuries, Valencia was one of the main merchant cities in the Mediterranean.
WHAT TO SEE: THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF VALENCIA
Valencia still has monuments left behind by the different cultures that inhabited it. In addition, thanks to the sudden and intense development of recent years, the city has a rich heritage of modern architecture.
A HISTORICAL CENTER RICH IN ANCIENT MONUMENTS
In the historic center, the 13th century Gothic Cathedral, the Mercado de Colón, the Palace of the Generalitat are worth visiting. In addition to the most remarkable monument from the Valencian past, the Lonja de la Seda, a splendid 15th-century civil building declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. La Lonja was built between 1482 and 1533, originally used as a silk market, it has always been the center of the city’s trade. The building is a masterpiece of Gothic art, the power and wealth of Valencia in the 15th and 16th centuries are clearly visible in the grandiose Sala de Contratación.
Near the Loja there is the modernist Mercado Central and the church of los Santos Juanes. Of the city walls remain the Torres de Quart and Torres de Serranos both of the fifteenth century.
A WONDERFUL GOTHIC BASILICA
In the plaza de la Virgen you will find the Palace of the Generalitat (15th century), the Gothic Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados and the Cathedral. The latter is a Gothic-style building built in the 13th and 15th centuries, which houses the Holy Chalice inside. The cathedral has three access doors. The first door is in Romanesque style, and is called “Puerta del Palau o de la Seo”, dates back to the thirteenth century. The second is a Gothic door, called “Puerta de los Apóstoles” or “David”, and is from the 14th century. The third door is baroque and was built in the 18th century. Inside there are 4 chapels on each side in addition to those that open in the choir, transept and presbytery. The bell tower of the cathedral was built between the 14th and 15th centuries.
The ancient district of the Barrio del Carmen contains buildings from the Arab era. Much of the Eixample district is characterized by art nouveau buildings. The building of the main station, the Estación Del Norte is a fine example of art deco.
A NICE CORE OF MODERN ARCHITECTURE BUILDINGS
Valencia is a city projected into the future. Among the works of modern art, the many projects by the architect Santiago Calatrava, originally from Valencia, are remarkable. Among his works we can mention the Alameda metro station, the Peineta bridge and the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias). A recreational complex designed for fun, art, music and science, which contains a science museum, the oceanographic park (Oceanogràfic), with the largest aquarium in Europe, with 45,000 specimens of 500 species from every part of the planet, an IMAX cinema and the palace of the Arts.
In March, traditionally from March 15th to 19th, the Fallas festival is held in the city. Which is the most famous city festival, a spectacular festival that upsets the life of the city. In this period there are events, parades, fires, barrels, music, concerts are organized, dancing and singing in the streets. Papier-mâché monuments are built and placed in the streets, squares and neighborhoods of the city and then burned on the night of March 19th.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE SURROUNDINGS OF VALENCIA
The surroundings of the city are full of magnificent beaches overlooking the warm Mediterranean sea. Valencia is also one of the Spanish cities best known for entertainment and nightlife. In the city there are many areas such as Cánovas, the Barrio del Carmen and the Ciudad Universitaria full of bars, pubs and clubs. Valencia is then famous all over the world for the Valencian Paella, there are two types of Valencian paella, the “paella de marisco”, with seafood and the “paella mixta” with a mix of meat and fish.
Among the places to visit around Valencia we can mention the Monastery of El Puig to the north of the city. Continuing north we reach the remains of the Roman city of Sagunto with a beautiful Roman theater and an imposing castle.
Just 15 km south of Valencia is La Albufera, an area of lagoons and swamps, today a protected nature reserve where many species of water birds nest. Continuing towards Alicante, you first reach the Costa Blanca, and the important tourist center of Benidorm. Among the historic towns of the interior, Xàtiva with its castle. Unesco World Heritage are the approximately 300 rock art sites in the province of Valencia. To the north of Valencia, in the province of Castellon de la Plana, lies the Costa del Azahar, a spectacular coastal area.
HOW TO MOVE: UNDERGROUND AND URBAN TRANSPORT OF VALENCIA
Valencia’s urban transport is served by the FGV (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana) which manages the MetroValencia and the other rail and bus services of the city.
The metro network consists of over 160 km of line, of which 19 underground (those that cross the central area of the city) for a total of three metro lines and two surface tramway lines. The working stations are currently 178.
Valencia also has a city bus transport network, operated by the Empresa Municipal de Transportes. Buses run between 5:30 in the morning until 2:30 in the night.
HOW TO GET THERE: FLIGHTS TO VALENCIA
Valencia Airport (IATA: VLC) is located 9 km west of the city. This airport is the second most important airport in the Valencian Community (the most important is Alicante) and the eighth airport in Spain. Valencia is connected with the main European countries.
The airport is well served by public transport, subway lines 3 and 5 connect it with the center (15 minutes), the port and the railway station. In addition, there are bus lines (MetroBus) that connect it to the city center in around 45 minutes, and also shuttle buses (Aerobus) which only take 20 minutes to reach the center of Valencia.