Valencia Tourist Attractions
Valencia, the old capital of the kingdom of Valencia and now chief town of its province, Spain's third largest city, the see of an archbishop and a university town, lies close to the Mediterranean on the right bank of the Río Turia (known to the Arabs as the Guadalaviar, the "White River"), in the fertile Huerta de Valencia.
Described in an ancient saying as "a piece of heaven fallen to earth", Valencia is a typically southern town with its bustling streets and the brightly colored azulejo domes of its many churches. The climate is unusually mild and predominantly dry.HistoryOriginally a Greek settlement, Valencia later fell into the hands of the Carthaginians, and in the second century B.C. became the Roman colony of Valentia, which rose to prosperity in the reign of Augustus. In 413 it passed to the Visigoths and in 714 to the Moors, who called it Medina bu-Tarab ("City of Joy"). After the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba Valencia and the adjoining coastal region became an independent kingdom, which was conquered by the Almoravids in 1092. Two years later it was recovered by the Cid, but in 1102 it again fell into Moorish hands. Under Mohammed ibn Said it became the capital of a Moorish kingdom until its reconquest by Jaime I of Aragon (Jaime el Conquistador) in 1238. During the War of the Spanish Succession at the beginning of the 18th Century Valencia supported the Habsburgs. In 1808 the town rose against the French. During the Civil War, in 1936-37, it was the seat of the Republican government, and it was the last Republican stronghold to fall to Franco on March 30, 1939, two days after Madrid.
Valencia's port of El Grao, 4km/2.5mi east of the city center, is mainly engaged in shipping the huerta's considerable exports of agricultural produce (oranges, raisins, oil and rice). There has also been a considerable development of industry (metal processing, shipbuilding, chemicals, textiles) in this area.
Every year in March Valencia celebrates the fiesta of San José, a spring festival during which large tableaux known as fallas, with figures made of papier mâché and rags (ninots), are set up in the streets and burned at midnight on the last day of the fiesta. The custom originated in the Middle Ages, when carpenters and other craftsmen used to burn up left-over scraps of wood and other materials on the feast of St Joseph.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento
The hub of the city's life and traffic is the long Plaza del Ayuntamiento, surrounded by hotels, cafes and offices, with a remarkable musical fountain. A colorful flower market is held in the square.
Facilities: On-site accomodations, Restaurant or food service
Bullring (Bullfighting Museum)
To the south of the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, beside the Estación del Norte, is the Plaza de Toros, one of Spain's largest bullrings, with seating for 18,000. Attached to it is the interesting Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum).
Calle de San Vicente
At the northern tip of the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, running northeast/southwest, is Valencia's main street, Calle de San Vicente, the northern part of which is particularly busy.
A mix of Gothic, Baroque, and Romanesque styles, the Cathedral was built between the 13th and 15th C. Inside are works by Goya.
West of the Cathedral
On the west side of the Plaza de la Reina is the Gothic church of Santa Catalina, with a richly decorated hexagonal tower.
Lonja de la Seda
Farther west of the Cathedral, in the long Plaza del Mercado (once the scene of tournaments and festivals), stands the Lonja de la Seda (or Lonja de los Mercaderes), the old Silk Exchange in which the trade in the famous Valencian silk, sold all over Europe, was carried on. This magnificent Late Gothic building, erected in 1498 on the site of a Moorish alcázar, has richly decorated doorways and windows and fine gargoyle water-spouts (gárgolas). The main hall has rich stellar vaulting borne on twisted columns. From the tower (144 steps) there are fine views of the town.
Los Santos Juanes
To the north of the Plaza del Mercado is the church of San Nicolás, built on the site of an earlier mosque, which has a "Crucifixion" by Rodrigo de Osona in the baptismal chapel and a retablo by Juan de Juanes in a side chapel on the left.
South-East of the Cathedral
To the south of the Plaza de la Reina in Valencia, in Calle San Vicente, stands the Gothic church of San Martín (1372), with a Baroque doorway crowned by a bronze equestrian statue of St Martin (15th century Dutch work).
National Museum of Ceramics and Sumptuary Arts
A little way east of San Martín is the handsome 18th century Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas, with a richly decorated alabaster doorway by Ignacio Vergara, which now houses the National Ceramic Museum, Spain's leading collection of ceramics. Founded in 1947, with the González Martí collection as its nucleus, the Museum has over 5,000 examples of traditional pottery from Valencia and the surrounding area (Alcora, Paterna, Manises), azulejos from Teruel, faience from Toledo and Seville, Greek, Roman and Arab ware, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, and modern pieces by Mariano Benlliure and Picasso. The pride of the collection is a fully equipped early 19th century Valencian kitchen completely faced with tiles.
Address: Calle Poeta Querol 2, E-46002 Valencia, Spain
Opening hours: 10am-2pm, 4pm-8pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Valencia Day - Spain (Oct 9), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Constitution Day - Spain (Dec 6)
Entrance fee: Adult Free
Transit: Buses: 31, 70, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 27, 70, 71
South of the National Ceramic Museum is the church of San Andrés, built in 1686 on the site of a mosque, which has many pictures by Valencian artists and hand-painted azulejos from Manises.
Colegio del Patriarca
To the east of San Andrés we find the Renaissance-style Colegio del Patriarca, with an arcaded courtyard, which was built between 1586 and 1610 to house a seminary for the training of priests founded by Juan de Ribera, Archbishop and Viceroy of Valencia. The Capilla de la Concepción contains valuable 16th century Flemish tapestries. On the first floor, in the Rector's Lodging, are a collection of old masters (Dierick Bouts, Rogier van der Weyden, Juan de Juanes, Ribalta, Morales, El Greco, etc.) and fine Brussels tapestries.
Colegio del Patriarca - Corpus Christi
At the south corner of the Colegio del Patriarca is the church of Corpus Christi (1586), with a superb "Last Supper" by Ribalta (1606) on the high altar.
The Miserere service in this church is an impressive occasion, during which Ribalta's picture disappears and a curtain is suddenly pulled aside to reveal a wooden crucifix (believed to be of 16th century German workmanship).
Convento de Santo Domingo
East of the University, in the direction of the Río Turia, lies the Plaza Porta de la Mar, with a triumphal arch in the center. To the north of this square is the Convento de Santo Domingo. The church of Santo Domingo (also called the Capilla de San Vicente Ferrer), rebuilt at the end of the 18th Century, is entered by a handsome doorway adjoining the uncompleted tower. To the right of the entrance is the 15th century Capilla de los Reyes, with the tomb of Marshal Rodrigo Mendoza. Part of the convent, including the cloister, is now a barracks.
North of the Cathedral
Capilla de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados
On the north side of the Cathedral and linked with it by an arch, is the Capilla de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados, built in 1667 and decorated with frescoes by Palomino. On the high altar can be seen a much venerated image (1416) of Our Lady of the Helpless, patroness of Valencia.
Northeast of the Capilla de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados is the old public granary, the Almudín, now occupied by the Palaeontological Museum, with a collection of prehistoric animal remains from South America.
Palacio de la Generalidad
Northwest of the Cathedral, in Calle de Caballeros, stands the Palacio de la Generalidad (Audiencia), built between 1510 and 1579 to house the parliament of the kingdom of Valencia and now occupied by the Diputación Provincial. Particularly notable among the sumptuous rooms of the palace are, on the first floor, the Salón de Cortes, with a coffered ceiling and an azulejo frieze, and the Sala Dorada, with a superb artesonado ceiling.
Torres de Serranos
On the north side of the old town are the Torres de Serranos, the old north gate of the town, built in 1398 on Roman foundations and restored in 1930. From the massive towers there are good views of the town. Temporarily housed in the towers is the Maritime Museum, which displays antiquities recovered from the sea.
The Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes focuses primarily on the works of Valencian artists. Paintings, sculptures, and archeological pieces make up most of the collection.
Torres de Cuarte
From the Palacio de la Generalidad, Calle de Caballeros and its continuation Calle de Cuarte run west to the Torres de Cuarte (or Puerta de Cuarte), an old town gate (1440-90) similar to the Torres de Serranos.
Museum of Ethnology
Northwest of the Botanic Garden, in Calle de la Corona, is the Valencian Museu of Ethnology. The ethnological collection includes agricultural implements, furniture, kitchen equipment, etc.The museum is interested in the interaction of people and five areas or themes: the city, the market garden, the marshland, non-irrigated land and mountains.In the same building can be found the Museum of Prehistory of Valencia.
Museo Etnográfico de las Fallas
The Museo Etnográfico de las Fallas, in the Avenida de la Plata (southeast of the town center, some distance out), is devoted to the history and traditions of Valencia's famous fiesta of the Fallas.
Monforte is a Spanish mixture of romantic and neo-classical styles. Cypress, clipped box and myrtle are punctuated with white marble statues of classical deities, orange and lemon trees suffuse the air and long pergola runs along a wall. A romantic garden has a grotto overhung with large trees.
Institute of Modern Art
Recently opened in 1989, the Institute of Modern Art features a variety of pieces dating back to the 30s.
Address: Guillén del Castro 118, E-46003 Valencia, Spain
Opening hours: 10am-8pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: Valencia Day - Spain (Oct 9)
Entrance fee: Adult Admission Cost, Group discounts Discount, Students Discount, Senior Free, Disabled in wheelchair Free
Transit: Buses: 5, 8, 28, 29, 79, 80, 81, 95
More Valencia Pictures
Map of Valencia Attractions