Sitting right on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Spain is Valencia, a city that’s best known for its “fallas” festival, its ceramics and its futuristic City of Arts and Sciences. Since 1982, the third-largest city in Spain has been working endlessly to reinvent itself by building wide new streets and continually investing in daring and unusual architectural projects. Valencia is also located in the heart of one of the most fertile regions in Europe where fields are bursting with crops like oranges and lemons, rice and more. Choose to visit Valencia and you are sure to get your fill of traditional Spanish culture and history.
Always an important city, Valencia was fought over for the agricultural wealth of its surrounding “huerta.” Founded by the Romans in 138 BC, Valencia later prospered as the capital of a far-flung Moorish kingdom until El Cid briefly recaptured it at the end of the 11th century. It wasn’t until 1238 that Jaime I of Aragón permanently wrested Valencia back. It has remained one of Spain’s largest and richest cities ever since.
The very impressive octagonal bell-tower El Micale is the landmark of Valencia, with its likeness displayed prominently in all souvenir and postcard shops. If you’re visiting the Valencia Cathedral, consider climbing the 207 steps of Torre del Micalet (The Micalet Tower). This 13th century bell tower takes its name from the main clock bell, El Micalet. At 167 feet tall, the view from the terrace is worth the climb, although on a warm day it can get somewhat stuffy on the way up. From the top you’ll get to see El Micalet up close. It’s one of 12 bells in the tower, which dates back to 1539 and weighs in at over 24,000 pounds. You’ll also get a nice view of Valencia’s cityscape with the blue tiled domes of the cathedral and other churches nearby, and the Mediterranean Sea off in the distance in the east.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this building was originally built back in the 15th century and served as Valencia’s silk and commodity exchange. When you tour the building keep your eyes peeled for the colonnaded hall full of twisted Gothic pillars and coffered ceilings.
The Bioparc is an incredible, innovative, eco-friendly and educational space where wild animals seem to roam free. Visitors are immersed into the animals’ habitats and not vice versa. They achieve this by not using railings and cages like many zoos, but instead use rivers, streams and rocks to keep the animals and visitors separated.
The National Ceramics Museum Gonzalez Marti is housed in a palace that dates from the 15th century and was refurbished in 1740 in the curving, ornamental rococo style with an incredible alabaster entrance that you have to see to believe. Inside, you can find the 18th century carriages, the 19th century rooms, medieval ceramics and an important collection of tiles made in the Royal Ceramics Factory in Alcora.
The City of Arts and Sciences is an ensemble of six areas that was designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava and started in July 1996. It is an impressive example of modern architecture. The "city" is made up of an opera house, performing arts centre, planetarium, garden, science museum and oceanographic park. Surrounded by attractive streams and pools of water, it and the surrounding areas of the "city" are typically used as a relaxing place to walk day or night.
If Valencia seems like the place for you, start planning your holiday there now! Before you jet off to Spain though, be sure to purchase an international travel insurance plan from Cover-More so you can rest easy during your adventures knowing our team of experts is available to help 24/7 whenever and wherever you are.