Capital of the Comunidad Valenciana this vibrant city is famous for being the place where El Cid (Spain´s national hero) fought against the Moors. Situated close to the Mediterranean Sea, it possesses two urban beaches still within the township plus several beaches just a bus ride away such as Cullera, Gandía and Oliva. Valencia also has a good, modern shopping center, a pulsating nightlife and plenty to interest the children . Gulliver Park Playground, Botanical Gardens, Zoo and l´Oceanogràfic that wonderful aquarium and the biggest in Europe. The most important fiesta of this city is that of the Fallas which lasts from 15th-19th March. Easter Week is also very much celebrated, with some splendid processions.
And, of course, Valencia offers plenty of culture and history! At the heart of old Valencia is the Plaza de la Virgen, once the location of the Roman Forum. Around this beautiful square is the Cathedral dating from 1262, and its octagonal bell tower called Micalet or Miguelete which is landmark to Valencia. In the Cathedral´s Museum are works by several wonderful artists such as Goya, Jacomart, Cellini and Paggibonsi.
Next to the Cathedral is the Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados a temple dedicated to the patroness of Valencia, built between 1652 and 1667. Close by are such buildings as Almudín, the Iglesia de San Esteban, Palacio de Almirantes de Aragón, Church San Juan del Hospital and the Convento de Santo Domingo. The River Turia was actually diverted around the city after a catastrophical flood in 1957 and the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno is to-day located in the old river bed. Well worth seeing also are its three old bridges named Puente del Real, Puente de la Trinidad and Puente de Serranos.
At the Plaza del Mercado you will find La Lonja, one of the best civil Gothic buildings in Europe. At its side is the Baroque church Iglesia de los Santos Juanes and the bell tower Campanil de la Iglesia de Santa Catalina. Other buildings of note include the Palacio de la Generalidad, the Town Gate or Torres de Quart and the Rococo-style Palacio del Marquis de Dos Aguas. The Barrio del Carmen is an area representative of traditional Valencian life, while El Ensanche is more representative of to-day´s Valencia. Valencia is also known as the land of flowers, and its parks and gardens reflect this with the Jardines de la Alameda, the Jardines de Montforte, the "Real" Gardens, the Zoological Garden and the Botanical Gardens. This Mediterranean city and land of orange groves you will surely enjoy! .
By: Linda Plummer