VALENCIA – A city of two integrated parts, is rapidly becoming one of the hottest destinations in Spain. The combination of Gothic and Modern architecture makes Valencia a visual and cultural feast. This new Valencia, whilst still embracing its past history and culture, is a city that far from getting outdated, is entering the new millennium as one of the most futuristic cities in Europe.
Valencia is full of tourist appeals which are eager to captivate them – Museums, Festivities, Beaches, Sports events, Catering and Leisure Centres, together with a rich and varied historical, cultural and natural heritage waiting to be discovered.
HOW TO GET TO VALENCIA – Valencia Airport (VLC) is located 9km from the city centre, and one has a choice of 2 buses (Aerobus is more direct) or a taxi ride (approx. cost 10euros).
BY TRAIN – mainly from Madrid or Barcelona, the Estacion Del Norte is located in the centre of the city.
BY ROAD – Approx. 2 hours drive from Valencia along the A7 main toll road and approx. 3 hours drive from Barcelona. There are many bus and coach trips that go into Valencia Bus Station, which is about 15 minutes walk from the centre.
BY SEA – There is a ferry service to the nearby Balearic Islands of Mallorca (about 3 hours) and Ibiza (about 2 hours). VALENCIA’S CITY OF ARTS AND SCIENCE – The city of arts and sciences, the Congress Centre, The Alameda Underground Station or the transformation of the port in preparation for the America’s Cup Sailing event in 2007, have brought to Valencia the talents of such great 20th century architects as Santiago Calatrava, Norman Foster and Felix Candela. Between them they have drastically changed the outward appearance of the integral port area, with steel, white concrete and ceramic panelling intermingling with water features, high planted areas and lush lawns.
Conceived as a place to make known scientific and artistic knowledge, the city of arts and sciences has five main areas – L’HEMISFERIC – A half sphere surrounded by some enormous metal “eyelashes” and which is duplicated through its reflection in the spectacular pool that surrounds it. With a semicircular screen of 900 metres square, where three-dimensional films in the Imax format are projected, this building seeks to instruct people in the subjects that are normally the province of scientists.
THE REINA SOFIA PALACE OF ARTS – This is the jewel of the city of arts and sciences, with 40,000 metres square distributed over three auditoriums dedicated to opera, dance, theatre and music in general. Like a large symbolic sculpture, its nautical shape is a contrast between the opaque and the transparent, giving rise to feelings that change as we move. This building created by Santiago Calatrave is full of architectural surprises, a place that according to its creator, seeks to “take people into a circular place so that they can move around music”.
THE PRINCIPE FELIPE SCIENCE MUSEUM – The educational approach inherent in the complex, finds its greatest expression here. In a centre that seeks to synthesise the contents of the 17 museums of this kind of Spain. It is an iron, glass and concrete structure that plays with light, creating the sensation of seeing the skeleton of a great white dinosaur. Modernity and Technology are combined at the service of a museum of the future, a place where the visitor ceases to be a mere spectator and is transformed into an interactive element in this new way of understanding science.
L’UMBRACLE – This huge covered central promenade of sculptured steel, fantastically pleasing to the eye, is a walkway of different trees and plants which blend in with the concrete and metal of its modern settings. A truly serene place to pontificate about life.
L’OCEANOGRAFIC – This is a new kind of aquarium, an underwater city of 80,000 square metres that makes it possible to discover the treasures of the seven seas. Designed by the late architect Felix Candela, the oceanographic park is considered the largest in Europe in the number and variety of its animal species and one of the worlds largest in volume of water.
THE HISTORICAL CITY OF VALENCIA – The historical centre of Valencia is the section of town which arose around the cathedral and was included within the medieval wall built in 1356, parts of which are still preserved.
The Casco Antiguo (old town) consists of five districts. Among which the Barrio del Carmen (Carmen district) is most outstanding and popular. Visiting the roman, Muslim and visigothic remains at La Almoina, the Portal del la Valldigno or the Banos Arabes del Almirante will allow you to go deeply into the historical roots to the evolution of the town. The archaeological remains around the Plaza de la Almoina take you back over 2,000 years to roman times. Valencia was originally a walled town with towers sited in strategic locations, with two still standing, the Quart and the Serranos towers. The Quart towers were built between 1441 and 1460, for protection of the Quart gate and the road to Castilia. The Serranos towers were built between 1392 and 1398 next to the bridge of the same name, for defending the road from the region of the Serranos, hence their name. Both towers have been used as prisons. Quarts as a womans prison in 1626 and Serranos for noblemen and knights between 1586 and 1887. Also of note is the cathedral of Valencia which was built between 1262 and 1356 on the site of a roman temple and later a Muslim mosque. One can view recently discovered 15th century frescoes by Francesco Pagano and Paolo De San Leocadio on exhibition.
For the history lovers there are many other beautiful historic buildings, plus a number of emblematic monuments, notably Plaza De La Reina. Also fantastic museums (24 in total) such as Museo De Bellas Artes (founded in 1683 and is the museum of fine arts), Almudin (built in the 14th century and between 1908 and 1991 became the museum of paleontology) and Museo De La Ciudan (for the full history of Valencia) to name but a few. LEISURE – For the Horticulturist there are some beautiful gardens (jardines) in Valencia, most inherited from the Arab culture. Some of the must sees are the Jardines De Viveros (nursery gardens) which previously belonged to the palace of Muslim king ABD Al-Aziz, Alameditas De Serranos which is a garden area on the right hand side bank of the river Turia, constructed in 1830 with many sculptures set amongst the varied fruit and palm trees and multiple flora. Jardines De Monforte (now classified as a national artistic garden) and Jardin De La Glorieta (the oldest garden in Valencia built between 1817 and 1844) BEACHES – Valencia is blessed with four beaches all with fine golden sand and range from 2,700 metres long to 4,940 metres in length. Two beaches, Pinedo, south of Valencia’s seaport and Arenas-Malvarrosa which are the city beaches, both have bars and restaurants along the adjacent avenues, whilst El Saler and La Devesa beaches are a short walk from car parking areas and therefore much quieter beach areas. GOLF – There are five golf courses set around Valencia, Club De Golf El Bosque (18 holes), Club De Golf Escorpion (27 holes), Club De Golf Manises (9 holes and the oldest club),Club De Oliva Nova (18 holes) was designed by Severiano Ballesteros, and Club De Golf El Saler (18 holes) is considered one of the best golf courses in the world. SAILING – Valencia has a fantastic port which has recently been significantly upgraded to host the Americas Cup and is open to the public with a host of activities, games, restaurants, bars and shops. MOTORCYCLE RACING – Valencia has its own circuit which has been named after Ricardo Tormo, the first Valencian rider to win a world championship.
NIGHTLIFE – Valencia offers a wide and varied entertainment scenario for the young and not so young, straight and gay. From theatres (14 in total), concerts, discos, casinos, flamenco and fiestas, it’s all here in large quantities.
HOTELS – Being Valencia there is, as expected, a huge choice of exceptional hotels from three to five stars. To name but a few, Hilton Valencia (5 stars), Hospes Palau De La Mar (5 stars), Sorolla Palace (5 Stars), Barcelo Valencia (4 stars), AC Valencia (4 stars), Husa Chil Art (4 stars), Husa Reina Victoria (4 Stars), Expo Hotel (3 stars), Beta Hotel Valencia (3 stars) and Renasa (3 stars). Other options are, Red Nest Hostel and Purple Nest Hostel which are good budget options in the city centre and Home Hostels have four hostels around the town. To rent an apartment go to Accommodation Valencia Apartments, who have over 40 centrally located and equipped apartments.
Valencia has much more to offer the tourist or historical buff. It must be ranked as one of the most dynamic and versatile cities in Europe. Come see for yourselves.