Featuring a population of around 2,000,000 residents, Valencia is Spain’s 3rd largest city after the capital and Barcelona. Thriving in the sector of constructions, the city has inherited several architectural gems over the recent years, including a spectacular complex partially designed by local celebrated architect Santiago Calatrava.
Valencia’s lively day life is complemented by a dazzling nightlife, which makes the city one of Spain’s most vibrant metropolises. Walk around the scenic old quarter by day light, then recharge to wash the night out by enjoying some exquisite cuisine and delicious cocktails at sophisticated restaurants and hip bars.
Most of Valencia’s popular attractions are located within, or around, the old city centre, so walking is always an option. An efficient metro system covers most of the city’s points of interest, while night buses keep running after the metro closes down around midnight. Taxis are easily found in most central streets.
The old quarter of Valencia
Valencia’s old quarter is one of Spain’s largest historic centres, attracting thousands of visitors every year.
Come here to admire the imposing Cathedral, which combines several architectural styles from different periods. Initially built during the 13th century over the remains of an older Visigothic church, it features Almoina Gate in Romanesque design. The Gate of Apostoles and most of the current structure are in Gothic style, while the main entrance bears baroque decorations. Enter the cathedral to take an up-close look at two of Goya’s paintings and some interesting frescos.
Close to the cathedral, stands the medieval building of Llotja de la Seda, meaning Silk Exchange. Included in Unesco’s World Heritage Sites, it is designed after Llotja of Palma in Mallorca Island. Enter this impressive 15th-century building to see the golden-letter inscriptions at the Hall of Columns.
Part of Valencia’s medieval city-walls, Torres de Serranos, or Serrano Towers, is a well preserved city gate. The walls once featured 12 gates, but only Torres de Serranos and Torres de Quart survived up to date. Featuring two octagonal towers, the gate is one of Valencia’s most well-recognised landmarks.
Art in Valencia
Although Madrid is definitely Spain’s dynamic artistic hub, Valencia has its fair share of fascinating art museums and innovative galleries. Start with Museo de Bellas Artes, where you can gaze at one of Spain’s finest collections when it comes to medieval and Renaissance art. Paintings of Goya, El Greco and Velazquez are on display here. Works of El Greco can be also found at Museo del Patriarca, which mostly focuses on Spanish and Flemish paintings.
For challenging modern and contemporary artworks, visit IVAM (Institut Vlencia d’Art Modern) which hosts two main permanent collections of paintings and sculptures. Fascinating temporary exhibitions take place in IVAM throughout the year. Several privet galleries host excellent exhibitions by promising contemporary artists as well. Try Valle Orti, Rosa Santos and Luis Adelantado.
Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the City of Art and Science is one of Valencia’s most popular sights. Thousands of visitors come to admire this temple of modern architecture. However, several city attractions, housed under the complex, are worth a visit as well. L’Oceanografic is probably the most impressive section of the complex, featuring a stunning open air oceanic park. Here you will be able to take an up-close look at hundreds of marine creatures, from colourful tropical fish to arctic wildlife, including playful penguins.
Children and grownups alike, have a chance to learn about science through amusing interactive displays at Prince Philip Science Museum. If traveling with kids, also pay a visit to L’Hemisferic. Constructed to resemble a gigantic human eyeball, it houses a planetarium and laserium, where children are entertained with dazzling laser shows.
Finally look for the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, the stunning building of Valencia’s opera house, and take a relaxing stroll around L’Umbracle, a fascinating garden which features local plants and modern sculptures.