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Tourist near the cathedral in the historic quarter of Valencia

Why Valencia is so much more than a beach destination


When you come to la terreta, as Valencia is affectionately called by the locals, you’ll be amazed at how many things to do and places to visit there are in the capital of the Valencia Region. This corner of the Mediterranean has much more to offer than the sea: design, culture, delicious food, and interesting local traditions will be the keys to making your trip unforgettable. 

Why not start off in Ciutat Vella, the historic quarter, and explore the city’s long history which goes back 20 centuries. You can even see a purported Holy Grail in the Gothic cathedral. Various documents and studies claim that this is indeed the chalice used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Without doubt the cathedral is an architectural monument well worth a closer look, both outside and in. Outside, you’ll see the bell tower, known as El Miguelete, because the biggest bell was baptised on the day of St Michael. Inside, take a good look all around you, but be sure to look up to admire the frescoes. These are considered some of the most important from the early Spanish Renaissance, and until just a few years ago they had been hidden from view. And if you're left wanting more, visit the church of San Nicolás de Bari, nicknamed the Valencian Sistine Chapel. 

Above: view of Valencia cathedral / Below: early Spanish Renaissance frescoes in Valencia cathedral ©goga18128

Another must-see is the silk exchange or Lonja de la Seda, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 15th century, the Golden Age of trade in Valencia. From here, head for the church of Los Santos Juanes, or perhaps to the Mercat Central market where you can try a few tapas or take a stroll around its 8000 m² of Art Nouveau architecture. As you wander through the streets of the city centre, you'll come to El Carmen district. Now a hipster neighbourhood, it was once one of the biggest medieval quarters in Europe. Here you'll find the Torres de Serranos, towers originally built for defence but also used as a triumphal arch, and the towers of Quart, the former medieval gates that formed part of the city walls. So what more is there to see in this district? A variety of artistic and cultural spaces such as the Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) and the Valencia Museum of the Enlightenment and Modernity (MuVIM).

Above: interior of the Mercat Central ©Madrugada Verde / Below: Lonja de la Seda ©Kemal-Taner

Looking for somewhere to do a spot of shopping and try lots of delicious food? Look no further than the Rufaza and Ensanche districts where you’ll find the trendiest places, and wander the streets, shops and cafes while you soak up the local art, culture and cuisine. All these things led to Valencia being chosen as World Design Capital for 2022.But there's one thing that absolutely must be a part of your trip to Valencia, and that's a really good paella. There are places serving paella all over the city, but tucking into this mouth-watering rice dish right by the sea is a very special experience. Lastly, before you head for home be sure to stop off at the City of Arts and Sciences. On the banks of the river Turia, it includes 9 square km of gardens, ideal for sports or walks, and it's also a reference point in terms of architecture, science, and technology.Could you possibly need more reasons for coming to enjoy Valencia apart from the beaches? 

Above: typical building in the Ruzafa neighbourhood ©Joaquin Corbalan / Below: City of Arts and Sciences
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