Valencia oozes history. A walk around the old quarter will transport you from the days of the city’s Roman foundation in the year 138 B.C., whose remains are preserved in the museum of the Almoina, to the times of El Cid and the Moors, witnessed by the medieval wall gates of Serranos and Quart, and beyond. The beautiful Gothic building of La Lonja (Silk Exchange) is a reminder of the city’s Golden Age in the 15th century, when Valencia was the heart of the silk trade. And you will also find jewels of Modernist art like the Central and Colón markets, as well as extravagant Baroque churches and palaces like the Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas, now home to the Ceramics Museum.
But the city also has a very modern side, where you can spend the days in department stores or high end boutiques, and the nights sipping cocktails like the typical Agua de Valencia in the trendy bars of the bohemian Ruzafa district. The Turia Gardens were created on the Turia Riverbed after a disastrous flooding diverted its course in 1957, and are today lined with futuristic buildings. Here, the stunning City of Arts and Sciences, a complex designed by the renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, has become the city’s number one tourist attraction.
Above all, Valencia is a city that embraces the sea and offers an authentic Mediterranean atmosphere. The beaches of Las Arenas and Malvarrosa are buzzing in the summer, and also at weekends throughout the year, as locals head for a stroll in the sun followed by a paella at one of the restaurants along the seafront. Nearby you will find the old fishermen’s quarter of Cabanyal, with its colourful tiled buildings and traditional tabernas. The Marina Real Juan Carlos I, revamped to host the America’s Cup in 2007 and 2010, is now becoming the new gastronomic and cultural hub of the city.
One more thing is guaranteed in Valencia: wherever you go, you will find a warm welcome from locals who are immensely proud of their city and their traditions, and happy to share them with visitors.