Photo of Valencia

Visit Valencia

Valencia is capital of the province of Valencia in Spain's region of Valencia and Murcia. Valencia is Spain's third largest city. It is famous throughout Spain for its nightlife and for its festival, Las Fallas. It also has a lovely old quarter and a new and very impressive new cultural complex, the Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias, City of Arts and Science.

Valencia was founded by the Romans in 137 BC but became a Muslim city for five centuries with a brief interruption when El Cid took the city. Its muslim past is is reflected in its architecture. Valencia was a prosperous centre for silk, paper, leather and ceramics under Muslim rule. In 1238 James I of Aragon took the city which became part of his Catalan kingdom. It still has very strong Catalan ties.

In the 15th and 16th centuries Valencia became a very prosperous city but lost importance after both the Spanish War of Succession and the Spanish Civil War as it was on the losing side on both occasions.

Explore Valencia

Spain This Way Comment: Valencia has a charming old centre, a vibrant atmosphere, a seafront location and a stunning new very modern Arts complex. It is also firmly on the cheap flights destinations and so no wonder it is enjoying a boom in popularity.

Plaza Ayumiento Valencia

The main sights of Valencia are contained within a curve of what was once the river Turia (rio Turia). The river has however been diverted and the old river bed is now a 7km long park.

The oldest quarter of the town is the Barrio del Carmen. In this quarter there are lots of little streets and alleys to explore. Following a lengthy decline this area is now being renovated and there are lots of cafés and bars allowing you to pause and admire the old town houses lining the streets.

The Plaza del Ayuntamiento is the main square of Valencia and most of the sites are near to here. On one side of the square is the stunning town hall flanked by lots of beautiful buildings. On the opposite side is the post office building with its metal tower.

Inside the square are a number of charming flower kiosks displaying a colourful variety of cut-flowers. At the lower end of the square the fountain has a continuous display of cascades of water and on a night these are coloured too.

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Continue northwards of here and you get to the huge, modernist style Covered Market, the Mercado Central, which is beautiful both outside and inside. Inside the range of fruit and vegetables and fish and cheese etc is quite astonishing and extremely colourful. A great place to put together a picnic!

On the other side of Plaza del Mercado is La Lonja de la Seda. This is a 15th century Gothic Silk Exchange and has a magnificent Hall of Columns. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A little further north east is the cathedral of Valencia. The cathedral has a Baroque main entrance but it is a mix of architectural styles, including Renaissance and Gothic. Inside the cathedral in the chapel of the Santo Caliz is what is claimed to be the Holy Grail - the chalice of Santo Caliz. This is said to be the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper.

In 2006 the pope used the chalice during a Mass taken in Valencia's cathedral. The cathedral has a museum containing many paintings and a tabernacle made of gold, silver and precious jewels. Don't miss a climb up the cathedral's 68 meter high tower the Miguelete for spectacular views.

Valencia covered market

On one side of the cathedral is the beautiful Plaza de la Virgen. This square was once the Roman Forum. Its central fountain is a popular spot and the cafés around the fountain are a popular meeting place.

As well as the cathedral on the edge of the square there is also the church of Nuestra Senors de los Desamparados. Inside the church is a statue of the Virgen of the Helpless who is the patron saint of Valencia. During Valencia's famous Las Fallas festival a display of flowers is laid in the square in honour of the Virgin.

If you have time go to the Almoina Archaeological Centre on the east of the square where you can visit Roman, Arab and Christian remains underneath the cathedral area.

Also near here is the Gothic Palau de la Generalitat, the government building for Valencia.

If you continue north toward the Jardines del Turia you will get to the Torres de Serranos which, along with the Torres de Quart to the west of here, are all that is left of the medieval walls that once surrounded the city. These majestic towers give an idea of the scale of the original walls. The Torres de Serranos was once the exit from Valencia to Barcelona. You can visit the tower for free. The Torres de Quart was once a prison for women!

Other key sights include the Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas which is one of the best examples of the Baroque architecture which abounds in the city. Its doorway is particularly flamboyant. Inside this building is the National Ceramics museum displaying ceramics from around the world.

Also the Museo de Bellas Artes, the train station and the bull ring are all impressive buildings adding to the beauty of the city. 

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The old centre of Valencia is a warren of narrow streets and lovely squares and wandering through the city is a pleasure.

On the outside of the old centre the Mercado de Colon is another Modernista building, now full or shops and cafes.

No visit to Valencia is complete without a visit to the breathtaking Ciudad de Las Artes Y Las Ciencias, Valencia's City of Arts and Science. Designed by local architect Santiago Calatrava (who also designed the transportation terminal for the new World Trade Centre In New York) it includes an IMAX, a planetarium, an interactive science museum and a large Aquarium, the Oceanografic.

The Ciudad de Las Artes Y Las Ciencias was voted one of the top twelve 'Treasures of Spain' in a national TV and radio competition in 2007. It was one of only two modern buildings in the top twelve.

Garden fans will enjoy a wander around Valencia's Botanic Gardens.

Football fans can visit Valencia's impressive Mestalla stadium when Valencia FC do not have a match.

Valencia's old town

Museums in Valencia

Museo de Historia de Valencai, 2000 years of the history of Valencia. Includes lots of interactive displays.

Museo de Bellas Artes, the Fine Arts museum of Valencia is one of the best in Spain and has work by Goya and El Greco. The building itself is lovely. The museum is next to one of the biggest parks in the city, the Jardines del Real, home to a small zoo. There are often open-air concerts in the park in the summer.

Spain's National Ceramics Museum is housed in a wonderful Baroque palace in the heart of the old town of Valencia.

Instituto Valenciano d Arte Moderno, home to an impressive collection of 20th century Spanish art.

Museu Fallero, each year in the Festival Las Fallas the best structures are saved from the flames and exhibited here.

Museo del Artista Fallero, come here to find out how the 'fallas' are constructed.

Las Fallas Festival in Valencia

Valencia is known throughout Spain for its festival Las Fallas. It is a riot of music, fireworks, bonfires and night-long partying. Each neighbourhood makes a 'fallas' which is a giant papier maché sculpture depicting newsworthy events and local traditions. The main event takes place on the 19th March when the fallas are burnt at midnight. Partying though takes place from the 1 -19 March with nightly firework displays.

Beaches in Valencia

East of the town centre are the beaches of Playa de la Malvarrosa and Playa de las Arenas. These are sandy beaches with the sea on one side and a boulevard with a few restaurants on the other. The large port of Valencia is also part of the scenery! For something a bit quieter head south to Playa El Saler.

Frankly you would not come to Valencia for the beaches however if you are in Valencia for more than a couple of days you might find the idea of a swim and some sunbathing appealing.

Where to visit near Valencia?

From Valencia you can take a boat trip to the island of Nova Tabarca, just 3km off the coast. As well as views of the Valencia coast you will be able to see the island's 18th century fortress and picturesque church.

The peaceful Albufera Nature Reserve is just 10 km south of Valencia and is ideal for walking, cycling and bird watching. Or take a tour of the paddy fields in the reserve to see where the rice comes from for the delicious paella you wiill likely sample whilst you are here.

The extremely scenic Xativa Castle in the pleasant town of Xativa is an easy bus journey or car drive from Valencia and well worth the trip if your visit to Valencia is more than 3 or 4 days.

Requena, home of the Utiel Requena red wine is worth a visit and is about an hours drive from Valencia. Sagunto is a historic town with a Moorish castle and is worth a visit.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Valencia and Murcia guide.

See also: 

Photos of Valencia

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Map of Valencia and places to visit

 
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Valencia places to visit

National Ceramics Museum

National Ceramics Museum

Spain's National Ceramics museum is housed in a beautiful Baroque building in the heart of Valencia's old town.

National Ceramics Museum guide
Valencia Silk Exchange

Valencia Silk Exchange

The Silk Exchange of Valencia is a magnificent example of civil Gothic architecture and UNESCO listed.

Valencia Silk Exchange guide
Valencia Fine Arts Museum

Valencia Fine Arts Museum

The Fine Arts Museum of Valencia has an excellent display of Valencian and Spanish artists. The display includes beautiful golden altarpieces from the 14th and 15th century.

Valencia Fine Arts Museum guide
City of Arts and Sciences

City of Arts and Sciences

Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences is a spectacular collection of modern buildings housing arts and science exhibitions.

City of Arts and Sciences guide
Valencia Aquarium

Valencia Aquarium

The Oceanografic Aquarium of Valencia is the largest in Europe. It is located in the wonderfully modern City of Arts and Science on the edge of the city of Valencia.

Valencia Aquarium guide
Albufera Nature Reserve

Albufera Nature Reserve

A beautiful wetland site to the south of Valencia. It is home to a large bird population.

Albufera Nature Reserve guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Valencia and Murcia

 
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