The province of Valencia is the largest of the three which go to make up the Valencian community. It is situated in the centre of the spanish Mediterranean coastline. It overlooks the spacious Gulf of Valencia and is skirted at the back by a group of medium-high mountains and rolling plains leading to the lands of Aragon and Castile-La Mancha. It is opposite the Balearic islands and equidistant from the country’s two major decision-taking centres: Madrid and Barcelona. Valencia is identified with the Mediterranean Sea because the culture deriving from the old Mare Nostrum is manifest in its patterns of social behaviour. It is the administrative capital of the Valencian community and the centre of the reagion of L’Horta. It is the most densely populated town in the Valencian community as it is encircled by a wide belt of medium-sezed municipal districts which form an unbroken built-up area with an average density of 1,600 inhabitants per square kilometre.
Sightseeing around the city begins in the old quarter. Until the mid-nineteenth century, it was defended by a wall, the inner route of the number five bus. Still standing as proof are the graceful Torres de Serranos, the spacious Torres de Quart and some remains of the apron wall in the basement of the Valencia institute of Modern Arts. The most outstanding artistic heritage is to be found in the districts of Seu and Xerea, where the marks left by thr Romans lie hidden beneath Arab ruins and modern churches and palaces.
The Mercat district took shape around the commercial life of the city’s inhabitants. Accordingly, its two most emblematic buildings are used for trading purposes. The Gothic building of La Lonja, declared by UNESCO as a heritage of humanity, features a beautiful columned room where the old tables on which trading transactions were finalised are still in use today. Outside the destroyed wall grew the Valencia of the bourgeoisie, with its wide pavements, broad landscaped thoroughfares and countless instances of modernist architecture. On the other side of the Turia’s old riverbed lie the nursery gardens, along with the Fine Arts Museum and the ultramodern part of the city which, on account of its size, serves as a nexus between the coastal townships and the old quarter. The futuristic face of the city is mirrored on the old riverbed through the Gulliver Children’s park and the leisure and culture complex., Ciutat de les Arts i de les Ciencies. Life in the city spreads down to the seafront with the harbour are and the beaches of Las Arenas and La Malvarrosa.
The Old Town
Valencia’s old part of town is limited by the rails of the tramway, which run where have been the old town-walls until 1865. Most monuments date to the time after the reconquest of Valencia from the Moors, in 1238 by Jaime I.. That was the town’s most blooming epoch. The Cathedral is mainly of early gothic style, though some parts of it were added in later eras. Its three portals are Romanesque, gothic and baroque respectively. The main chapel, Capilla Mayor, is in baroque style, the two lateral chapels are neoclassic. The octagonal bell-tower, called Micalet or also Miguelete, is the landmark of the city. From there you have a great view over all Valencia, and Victor Hugo has counted 300 more bell-towers in all the city (to control if this number is right could be a challenge to patient and unstressed visitors …??)
In the Capitulary you can see the Holy Chalice, of which Jesus Christ and the Apostles are said to have drunk during the Last Supper.
In the Cathedral’s Museum are exposed works of Goya, Jacomart, Cellini, Paggibonsi as well as paintings of valencian school of 15th to 17th century.
Close to the catherdral there is the Basílica de la Virgen de los Desamparados (“Mare de Deu dels Desemparats”), a church consecrated to the patroness of the city, and the Almudín, a medieval granary that is nowadays used as a museum. In the closeby church Iglesia de San Esteban are said to have been married the daughters of legendary Cid. Some more interesting buildings in this area of town are the Palace of Almirantes de Aragón, the church San Juan del Hospital and the Convento de Santo Domingo.
Well worth seeing are the three old bridges, Puente del Real, Puente de la Trinidad and Puente de Serranos, the latter with the Torres de Serranos, 15th century towers that have been part of the old town-walls and combine the elegance of a triumphal arch with the solidity of fortifications. The river Turia actually was deviated around the city after a catastrophal inundation in 1957. The old river-bed today is used by the population for all kinds of sports and leisure-time activities. The IVAM (Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno), located at the river-bed, is one of the leading museums of modern arts in Spain and so a must to visit for everybody interested in this subject.
La Lonja and Surroundings
At Plaza de Manises is located the Palacio de la Generalidad, a 15th century palace that today is used as seat of government. Of high interest are the wall-paintings in its Salon de las Cortes, Salón Dorado and Galería de Retratos de los Reyes de Valencia.
Through the street Calle de Los Caballeros you arrive to the town-gate Torres de Quart, of 1441, and to Plaza del Mercado, the square where is located Valencia’s probably best known monument, La Lonja , the old stock-exchange building of 1483.
At its side there are the baroque church Iglesia de los Santos Juanes, with important wall-paintings of Palomino, and the bell-tower Campanil de la Iglesia de Santa Catalina.
Through Calle Torno you arrive to the Palace of the Marquis de Dos Aguas, in rococo-style and with a very highly individual portal designed by Hipólito Rovira. The Patriarca College, of 1603, is typical for the austere ambience of religious Renaissance buildings in Spain. Valencia’s University and its extraordinary Law Court are of neoclassical style. Another monument of quite recent date is the bridge Nuevo Puente of 1995, nicknamed La Peineta, “side-comb”, due to its form.
Barrio del Carmen
This district represents like no one Valencia’s way of living, if you don’t know it you don’t know the city. Here you’ll find numerous shops, café-theaters, bars, restaurants, flower-stands…. it is the center of everyday life and a unique scenery for the visitor.
A walk through this more modern part of town, inhabited mainly by bourgeoisie and officials, may give you an impression of today’s Valencia.
“Valencia es la tierra de las flores..”, “Valencia is the land of flowers”, says an old folk-song, and the parks and gardens of the city demonstrate it in an impressive way. The Jardines de la Alameda and Jardines de Monforte are romantic parks of 18th century. “Real” Gardens, which include also the Zoological Garden, have beautiful cultures of roses and large pine-woods. Inside them you can find the ruins of an old king’s palace. The Botanical Garden shows a variety of exotic plants.
Comunidad Valenciana, the land of orange groves, paella, sangria and fiestas!…
You will find the greatest Macro-discotheques along the main roads and of course many vacation hotspots. There is even a special kind of house music made here called Makina, that can be defined as a kind of industrial techno music.
The people from the Community Valencia love to party and they will grab any excuse to celebrate anything. This region has a rich history. You can still find roman and Islamic influences like in the rest of Spain. But it is the middle ages that characterize the region that we know today. You will still find many medieval castles and fortifications in this region. Some of them are not more than ruins nowadays but many others are worth while a visit and include archaeological museums or expositions.
People here are very proud of their region and heritage. Besides Spanish, or “Castellano”, local people also speak Valenciano, a language that resembles a mixture of Spanish and French. You will notice that even towns have two names, for instance: Alicante (in Castellano) and Alacant (in Valencià). The closer to teh region’s capital city, the more people speak Valenciano, the prouder they are, the bigger the chance that they just will refuse to speak Castellano.
This is the land of orange groves, paella, sangria and great fiestas. The coast of the province of Alicante is the Costa Blanca with towns like Benidorm and Altea. Go fiesta in Valencia.
Province of Valencia (Costa de Valencia)
Yes, one of the Provinces of the Community Valencia is also called Valencia. The city Valencia is the Capital of the region and the province.
There are also many unique traditional fiestas that are celebrated here with passion. Las Fallas are without a doubt the most impressive. Enjoy Valencia