Plaza de La Virgen square
Arts and Sciences Centre
L'Oceanogràfic building at the Arts and Sciences Centre
, typical house in Valencia
There are few cities like Valencia, able to harmoniously combine the remnants of its farthest past, dating to the year 138 BC, with the most innovative and avant-garde buildings from the new millennium.
Valencia is trade and culture, cinema, theatre, museums, magic, business. It is the centre of international and avant-garde design, and one of the most active cities in Europe regarding fairs and conferences.
Thanks to its location, Valencia has historically been Spain’s Mediterranean port and has that special charm of cities that are also seaports. And the fine sand and clean water, the vastness of the sea and the closeness of the coastal mountains make the Valencian coast uniquely attractive.
There are outstanding beaches and dunes at Canet d’En Berenguer, where the coastline becomes leisurely and residential, as it does to the north of the Valencian capital, where small tourist town (La Pobla de Farnals, Alboraya, and El Puig) have emerged where only a few years ago fruit and vegetables were grown.
In addition, still within the city of Valencia, the beaches of La Malvarrosa and Levante offer a wide variety of places to dine and enjoy a quiet evening by the sea. To the south, nature becomes predominant at Saler Beach and in the L’Albufera Nature Reserve, where the sun can be enjoyed in unique surroundings. The beaches of Cullera, Gandía and Oliva combine beautiful landscapes with a number of sporting and recreational facilities.
Interesting routes await you inland, such as the one defined by the course of the Turia River, or charming towns like Buñol, Requena and Xátiva.
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Valencia For you
From the Roman forum to the Arts and Sciences Centre
When walking around Valencia, visitors can feel the pulse of many centuries in its walls and under the ground. From the remains of the Roman forum founded by Junius Brutus and now in the Plaza de la Virgen which gave rise to Valencia, to the emblematic Arts and Sciences Centre, the city has transformed its appearance whilst rescuing monuments that are witness to past eras.
Valencia Cathedral is built in the same place where the first temple stood in the Roman times, and later on, a mosque. Because it was built between 1262 and 1426, and because of the extensions and renovations carried out later on, there are different styles superimposed on the predominant primitive Gothic.
The Miguelete Tower, the tower that is usually identified with Valencia outside, is the cathedral's Gothic bell tower. It is 50.85 metres high, which is the same as its perimeter. It is a steep climb up the 207 steps, but worth it when you get to top and see the splendid views of the city.
In the same square, Plaza de la Virgen, there is also the Virgen de los Desamparados Basilica, and nearby, the Santo Domingo Convent, commissioned by the Dominicans in the 13th century, with the approval of by King Jaume I. In Valencia's historic quarter you can find other interesting churches, like Santa Catalina, San Nicolás and San Martín.
Civil architecture is very important in the city. Two old gates to the city remain from the old medieval wall - Serranos and Quart towers.
The Palau de la Generalitat (Palace of the Autonomous Government) is a Gothic-style structure, built in the 15th century and later extended in the 17th and 20th centuries. The building stands out because of its large Renaissance tower that leads to the Plaza de la Virgen.
Yet beyond all doubt, the most remarkable building is the Lonja de la Seda (the Silk Exchange), an elegant Gothic structure built towards the end of the 15th century that has been declared World Heritage Site. This ancient trading place holds authentic treasures in its interior, such as the monumental Salón de las Columnas, the Torreón Central and the Sala de Juntas del Consulado del Mar. The City Hall, located in the city centre, occupies the old premises of the 18th century Real Casa de la Enseñanza. Modernism has also left a legacy in this city, with beautiful examples like the Central Market, made of iron, stained glass, and ceramic tiles; the Colón Market; and the magnificent Estación del Norte (North Railway Station).
In addition to this huge architectural legacy, a myriad of museums grace the city. One of the most symbolic is the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of the Arts and Sciences), a futuristic complex housing the L'Hemisfèric Cinema-Planetarium; the Palace of the Arts, devoted to promoting and publicising art; the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum; and the Universal Oceanographic Park.
Valencia occupies one of the top places on the Spanish art scene, thanks to the Institute Valencian Institute of Modern Art (IVAM). This centre has nine galleries that include permanent collections of the works of Julio González and Ignacio Pines, as well as other temporary exhibitions of painting, photography, and modern art, from the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century to the present.
Located inside a Baroque building, the San Pío V Museum of Fine Arts is one of the most outstanding in Spain, thanks to its collection of the work of early Valencian artists; its collection includes Valencian school painters such as Hernando Yáñez de la Almedina, Juan de Juanes, the Ribaltas, Ribera, Espinosa, Vicente López, Sorolla, and Pinazo; and other artists of the stature of Pinturicchio, Andrea del Sarto, Van Dyck, Murillo, Velázquez, Bosch, El Greco, and Goya. The museum also has sculptures by Mariano Benlliure, as well as interesting archaeological artefacts.
Another remarkable art gallery is located in the complex of the Corpus Christi Seminary. The Patriarch's Museum has a 16th and 17th century painting collection, as well as works by Juan de Juanes, El Greco, and early Flemish painters. The church preserves Ribalta's "Last Supper" at the high altar, as well as a Flemish tapestry in the Communion Chapel. The González Martí National Ceramics and Sumptuary Arts Museum is located in the Palace of Marqués de Dos Aguas, built in the 15th century, and refurbished in the 18th century. The interior displays a vast collection of ceramics from Manises, Paterna, and Alcora, some of which date back to Christian times. Just as remarkable are the ancient pottery collection; the "socarrat" ceramic collection; the Chinese and Japanese pieces; and the pieces signed by figures like Picasso. The festive nature of the people of Valencia is represented in two museums: the Museum of the Fallas keeps the "ninots" (papier mâché figures) which have been spared from burning in the annual Valencia fire festival for every years since 1934, and other elements that illustrate the history of the Fallas; and the Falla Artist Museum, where sketches, posters, photographs, and more spared "ninots" on display. Do not forget the City Museum, or the Municipal History Museum, or the homes of famous personalities such as Vicente Blasco Ibáñez and José Benlliure.
Endless possibilities on the shores of the Mediterranean
The mild Mediterranean temperatures make it an ideal destination for outdoor sports at almost any time of year. Valencia has great sport facilities so you can keep fit, such as the modern Turia Gardens facilities.
The Valencia Real Náutico Sailing Club becomes the ideal place for sailing, although the 112 kilometre long coast in the province offers the chance of practising many more types of water sports, such as scuba diving or windsurfing.
Valencia is a real paradise for golf lovers - there are six courses, four of them with 18 holes: El Saler, El Bosque, Escorpión and Oliva Nova.
The inland mountains also provide the ideal setting for sports such as hiking, cycle touring, canyoning, kayaking, horse riding routes, microlighting and paragliding.
Savour the taste of the market gardens and the sea
Paella is the typical dish of Valencia and the best known in Spain.
It represents the triumph of the flavours of the market gardens, the sea and the mountains, combined to produce an excellent result, which can vary every time - there are so many types of paella that you can enjoy a different one every time, and even if you spend a long time in Valencia, they will always be different.
For young people
Throughout the year there are many festivals, concerts, and events.
Valencia offers all kinds of fun and leisure alternatives for young people. During the Fallas festival there is a programme of activities that are specially designed for young people, such as concerts at night which take place in the Viveros Gardens.
The large open space in the centre turns into an improvised auditorium for recitals - especially during the July Fair - and in spring, the paths fill up with marquees for the Book Fair and other cultural events.
As well as these events, the restaurant terraces fill up during the Fallas, and they often remain that way until October. Thanks to its mild Mediterranean climate, Valencia is a city where nightlife is lived to the full. There are many places to enjoy the lively atmosphere: from different bars, pubs and discos, to many clubs that have appeared on the seafront and have turned La Malvarrosa beach and the promenade into an important leisure area.
If you prefer, some of the most famous discos in Spain are in the province, especially on the route from Valencia to Cullera, situated next to the beach. The old course of the Turia River opens up for young people to enjoy one of the largest leisure areas in the capital. The Turia Gardens can be visited on foot or cycling, and the sports facilities there can also be used. Here you will also find the Arts and Sciences Centre, a place of leisure and culture where young people will be able to enjoy the 3-D films at the Planetario-L’Hemisfèric, visit the installations at the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, and marvel at L’Oceanogràfic, Europe’s largest aquarium.
Valencia para jóvenes
Other events, such as Valencia Escena Oberta, which takes the performing arts into the streets, or the International Youth Film Festival, which shows films made by new, rising filmmakers, should also not be forgotten. Those into alternative culture will find their spot in the Alternative Music Festival in July, which, in addition to concerts, includes theatre performances, fashion shows, volunteer work, etc.
Valencia opens its museums and exhibitions to young people by offering them special prices. Holders of an International Student Identification Card - ISIC card, or a student ID will get significant discounts at the doors of most museums and exhibitions. Going around the city, youngsters also have it easy, as there is a monthly public transport pass, with a special price for minors.
A city which has everything to offer its younger visitors
Valencia offers numerous possibilities which are tailor-made for children. Throughout the whole length and breadth of the city there are numerous parks and gardens to enhance the urban landscape and offer a setting for recreation.
Younger visitors are guaranteed fun in the Parque Gulliver (Gulliver’s Park) children's play complex, with the giant himself transformed into slides, and also containing a model of the city and surrounded by a mini golf course, giant chessboard, skating ramps, and endless games to enjoy throughout these gardens in the heart of the city. Other outstanding green areas to visit include the Botanical Gardens, considered one of the best-stocked and most interesting botanical gardens in Europe; the Monforte gardens, in the neoclassical style; or the extensive Turia gardens. Animal lovers should definitely make for the Bioparc, one of the new generations of zoos based on the concept of zoo-immersion, where visitor are submerged in the wild habitats, and all the bars separating the animals from the humans are completely concealed.
In the tributaries of what was once the old riverbed stands one of the most avant-garde symbols of modern Valencia, the Arts and Sciences Centre. Surprising both for its dimensions and its architecture, this site offers visitors the chance to enjoy 3-D films and other screen offerings in the L’Hemisfèric Cinema-Planetarium, learn interactively about science in the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, and marvel at the L’Oceanogràfic, Europe’s largest aquarium.
Valencia’s festive calendar also offers lots for children, who take an active part in the children's fallas bonfire festival, which includes all kinds of special activities for younger visitors. What’s more, most of the cinemas in the city screen films in special children's matinees on weekends and public holidays. And throughout the year –but particularly in summer– children and grown-ups can enjoy the wonderful urban beaches of Levante and Malvarrosa.
The streets of Valencia are filled with shop windows exhibiting everything from handmade arts and crafts to the latest fashion designs. Fans, lace work, Manises ceramics and clothes are just some of the things you can buy in Valencia.
Whatever your likes and dislikes, in Valencia you are bound to find what you are looking for. The shopping possibilities are endless. Both the arts and crafts shops in the Ciutat Vella and the more modern establishments around Colón, the street markets and numerous shopping centres offer the visitor a wide and varied range of products.
Other useful information
Timetables: most shops open from 10am-2pm and from 4.30-8.30pm. The shopping centres open from 10am-9.30pm.
Sales: the winter sales generally begin in the second week of January and go on until the end of February, and the summer sales begin on 1 July and run until the end of August.
How to pay: most people pay in cash or with a credit card, when you must show your passport or identity card.
Tax free: residents from outside the European Union are entitled to have Value Added Tax (IVA) refunded on purchases of more than €90.15.
Valencia Card: this card can be bought in many hotels, estancos (licensed tobacconists) and newspaper stands, and it gives you interesting discounts in many shops, restaurants, shows and leisure centres. It also gives you free access to public transport in Valencia.
A meeting point for big professional events
Valencia has become an outstanding convention centre for the whole of Europe, and a first-class meeting place for those who wish to expand their business, or take part in conferences and trade fairs.
Facilities equipped with all that is necessary to hold all kinds of conventions and business meetings; an excellent communications network providing easy access to the city; a wide variety of accommodation; and an excellent climate all year round guarantee a perfect stay to those who come to Valencia on a business trip. All this in a cosmopolitan city that makes it possible to combine business with pleasure, and to enjoy the many leisure and cultural activities available, as well as the outstanding cuisine.
The Valencia Convention Centre is a prime example of the city's capabilities and consolidates Valencia as an ideal venue for any commercial activity and cultural exchange. This space perfectly combines audacious design with the most advanced equipment and technology available. Auditoriums will all kinds of facilities, conference rooms, restaurants, cafeterias, etc. all framed by 7,000 square metres of green space, with ponds and fountains that are ideal for rest and relaxation.
Feria Valencia, a pioneering Spanish trade fair centre, holds more than forty annual events, with an attendance of 10,000 exhibitors from all over the world and more than a million visitors. The centre is equipped with a complete infrastructure for holding conventions and conferences.
The Valencia Concert Hall and Convention Centre, in the gardens of the old bed of the River Turia, is an excellent venue for holding conventions and exhibitions, right at the heart of the city.
Valencia is a city where you can enjoy the nightlife to the full. There are a whole host of places where you can sample the lively atmosphere: from the various bars, pubs and discos to the numerous clubs that have sprung up along the seafront, transforming the La Malvarrosa beach and the promenade into a nightlife hotspot. Here are a few ideas to guide you when you set out to enjoy a night out on the town, from the early evening until the sun comes up.
Valencia’s nightlife is full of people who are raring to get out and have fun, feel the music and dance. The most popular area is the neighbourhood known as the Barrio del Carmen, right in the old part of town, although the clubs and bars around the Avenida de Aragón, and Cánovas, Honduras and Xúquer squares are also very well known. And the younger student vibe is to be found centred around the Avenida Blasco Ibáñez. If you’re visiting the city in July and August, check out the beach areas and the Paseo Neptuno promenade, as this where is the partying goes on for longest in the summer.
In the province of Valencia you’ll find some of the most famous discos in Spain, especially on the beachfront on the route from Valencia to Cullera.