VALENCIA – Valencia is one of Spain’s oldest and most important cities. It began over 2000 years ago when it was founded as a Roman colony.
Over the years there have been many influences. Not just the Romans, but also Moroccan and Arab Moors, Germanic Goths, and Christians. Each one introducing their religion, customs, and languages. You can see the various styles in the architecture and in the city vibe. To this day, Valencia isn’t a typical Spanish city. It even has its own language which is a dialect of Catalan.
Flamboyant, futuristic, breathtaking
Valencia is a port city and is the third-largest in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. It is the busiest cargo port in Spain. It is a vibrant city and has many futuristic and sometimes flamboyant designed buildings that sit alongside ancient ruins. One of the great things about visiting Valencia is how you may be walking casually down a normal street, but then suddenly come across a breathtakingly grand palace.
The City of Arts and Sciences put Valencia on the tourist map. This is an incredible, futuristic architectural complex, unlike anything you will have seen before. It includes several futuristic buildings and attractions, such as an opera house, a planetarium, a science museum, and an IMAX cinema. The complex is a popular tourist destination and a symbol of modern Valencia. Furthermore, it has been used as the backdrop for many movies, including Tomorrowland and Westworld.
Narrowest building in Europe
The narrowest building in Europe and the second narrowest in the world is in Valencia. (The narrowest in the world is in Brazil and measures 100cm wide). You can find it Plaza Lope de Vega, close to the cathedral. The facade is only 107cm wide and 5 stories high. Why would anyone build a house so narrow? It was basically a tax dodge to avoid paying property taxes which were based on the width of the facade. Therefore, this was a way to decrease the tax bill.
The cobbled narrow streets of the old town are the historic centre of Valencia. During Roman times, it was a walled city.
It´s no wonder Valencia is World Design Capital for 2022. The city has been selected as such because of its cultural legacy, history, and continued dedication to sustainability and design. With a focus on promoting sustainable urban growth, the city has become a center for design innovation, particularly in architecture, urban planning, and digital technology.
Not only is there amazing architecture, but also there are plenty of green spaces. These include the Royal Gardens, the Botanical Garden, and the Turia Gardens. You can also take a day trip to Albufera Natural Park, a nature reserve with a freshwater lagoon, rice fields, and up to 250 species of birds.
The holy grail in Valencia
You can visit museums (many are free to enter) and a cathedral. The 13th-century cathedral was once a Roman temple and later a mosque. The holy grail (the chalice from which Jesus drank at the last supper) is said to be kept in a chapel inside the cathedral. You can climb to the bell tower of the cathedral if you feel fit enough to tackle the 207 steps. But it will be worth it for the views when you reach the top.
La Lonja (the silk exchange), was build during the 15th century and is the only site in the city to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage. Although La Lonja is the only world heritage site in the city, Valencia has two other UNESCO listings. The Water Tribunal, which dates back 800 years ago, and Las Fallas Festival were added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The battle of the flowers
The flower battle at the end of every July where more than a million marigolds float through the air is something so beautiful to witness. Decorated floats pass up and down the Paseo de la Alameda in the centre of the city, and the crowds throw flowers at their occupants. In turn, they attempt to defend themselves by using tennis rackets as shields, whilst firing back with more beautiful blossoms.
Ernest Hemingway was a frequent visitor to Valencia. Seemingly Valencia calmed him, charmed him, and inspired him.
Valencia is also the birthplace of paella, which is famous throughout the whole of Spain. Authentic paella Valenciana is made with chicken or rabbit, white beans, and snails. Seafood and meat are also most popular here.
In addition to all the culture and cuisine that Valencia is famous for, there is also vibrant nightlife. One of the popular drinks in the area is Agua de Valencia. Now don´t think the nightlife must be boring if everyone seems to be drinking water. Agua here is a potent mix of cava, orange juice, gin, and vodka.
And don´t forget the beaches – Valencia has everything you could possibly wish for.