Country: Spain Language: Spanish Currency: Euro (€)
Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, and is often overshadowed by Spain’s larger two cities, Barcelona and Madrid. However, Valencia has just as much to offer, as it combines many of the best aspects of travel. In Valencia, enjoy the historic center, while snapping lovely photos of the architecture’s grandeur and appreciating the history that is built into the city walls; have a refreshing glass of horchata while soaking up the Spanish sun; visit the City of Arts and Science, exploring the museums and performing arts centers; or spend a day the beach, eating freshly caught seafood! Valencia can be explored in a day and a half, allowing you to see the sights and indulge in Spanish cuisine. However, spending longer is a great idea, as you will likely be reluctant to say goodbye.
CTW Must See
Torres de Serranos
The Serranos Towers, or Torres de Serranos, are one of Valencia’s twelve city gates that used to connect the ancient city wall. The towers are said to be the largest Gothic gateway in Europe, and they are one of Valencia’s best preserved monuments. The Serranos Towers were used as a defense tower, then a prison for Spanish nobility, and now serve as one of the city’s major tourist attractions. For a small fee, you can go to the top of the towers to enjoy a unique outlook over Valencia.
Plaza de la Virgen
Plaza de la Virgen is in the heart of Valencia’s historic center. This marvelous square is home to some historic and incredibly elegant buildings. The Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados is the beautiful pink building with the striking blue dome. It was one of the original Baroque buildings in Spain. The square also houses the Palau de Generalitat, a government building; the Turia Fountain, a large fountain at the top of the square that depicts Neptune; and a stunning look at the rear of the Valencia Cathedral. Plaza de la Virgen is the perfect place to enjoy the relaxed Valencian culture with a glass of sangria.
Plaza de la Reina
Plaza de la Reina is another picture perfect square in the city’s historic center. This square features the remarkable Valencia Cathedral and its bell tower, El Miguelete. Valencia Cathedral, consecrated in 1238, features Valencian Gothic architecture, and stands in the place of a former Roman temple. The cathedral’s quintessential bell tower, el Miguelete, stands 51 meters tall and can be seen from almost anywhere in Valencia’s historic center. The bell tower gets its name from its largest bell, Miguel. Visitors are able to climb the bell tower’s 207 steps to the top to gain another perspective of Valencia’s historic center. There is a fee to get in to the cathedral, with an optional add-on to go to the top of the bell tower.
Church of Santa Catalina
This beautiful church sits just off to the side of Plaza de la Reina, and features a prominent bell tower that was built between 1688 and 1705. The church goes back to the Middle Ages, making it one of the oldest in Valencia, but was almost completely rebuilt in the 16th century after a fire destroyed most of the building. There is a small fee to go to the top of the bell tower, but the views from the top are worth the cost and the effort, as you can look directly at el Miguelete.
Plaza de Mercado
Another square in Valencia, Plaza de Mercado, is very popular and provides a historic and fresh atmosphere. Plaza de Mercado’s main feature is the Central Market. This market is a beautiful farmers market, home to some of the freshest fruits, veggies, and cured meats in Valencia. The market was built in 1914, and displays beautiful ceramic tiles and a gorgeous central dome. Outside the market, you’ll find cafes, restaurants, and the Temple of Santos Juanes. The Temple of Santos Juanes is one of the oldest churches in Valencia, and features stunning Baroque architecture.
La Lonja de la Seda
La Lonja de la Seda, or the Silk Exchange, is a Gothic building and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building was built between 1482 and 1548, and the interior still contains some of its original furnishings and decal. You will find La Lonja de la Seda across from the Temple of Santos Juanes, but be sure to walk around the entire building, as it is quite impressive from all angles! La Lonja de la Seda will cost a small fee to enter, but it spans multiple levels and also allows access to a beautiful orange garden.
Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Tucked away behind the Silk Exchange sits this lovely church. This church was built between 1598 and 1631. Its interior is gorgeous, and features a beautiful baroque altar and many grand artworks. Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is worth a visit, especially as it is located just next to the Silk Exchange’s orange garden!
Plaza Ayuntamiento translates to ‘Town Hall Square’, so you can only guess what the main building of this square is. Valencia’s Town Hall of modernistic baroque style, features a decadent marble staircase and a ballroom. The town hall was under some scrutiny, as some did not think it fitted with Valencian architecture. However, the building and the square maintain a poised attitude, and provide visitors with a large, open square, also acting as a gateway to Valencia’s shopping district!
City of the Arts and Sciences
This is an incredible property located on the outskirts of Valencia’s historic center. The City of the Arts and Sciences is connected to the beautiful Turia Gardens, that surround the city. Coming from the historic center, the first building you will find is the El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia. This building is a performing arts center and opera house that was built in 2005. This building stands 14 stories high, making it the world’s tallest opera house! The next building, L’Hemisfèric, built in 1998, resembles an eyelid, with the IMAX cinema as the ‘eyeball’ in the center. L’Hemisfèric, was the first building built in the City of Arts and Sciences. It has many showings in the cinema, including films about Africa, dinosaurs, and the animal kingdom. Across from L’Hemisfèric, you’ll find the L’Umbracle, an open garden that holds plants indigenous to Valencia. This structure sits directly over the parking garage, and features a range of plants, providing a peaceful walk through nature. The next building in the line up is El Museu de les Ciències Principe Felipe. This science museum resembles the skeleton of a whale and features entertaining science education programs. Next, there is El Post de l’asset de l’Or, a bridge that stands 125 meters tall and is the tallest point in Valencia. After that comes l’Àgora, a concert and sporing stadium. This was built in 2009, and designed to hold everything from concerts and sporting events, to political rallies and exhibitions. Lastly comes l’Oceanogràphic, Europe’s largest aquarium. The City of Arts and Sciences is a beautifully landscaped set of buildings, offering a full day’s worth of activities for every traveler.
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