City Overview: Valencia
Location: East Coast of Spain (Valencia)
warm and welcoming, Valencia is Spains third largest city
and birthplace of its most famous dish - paella. Founded over two
thousand years ago, Valencia is refreshingly non touristic, is known
for fantastic weather, has exciting nightlife, offers a number of
diverse shops and museums, and has a charming old town center.
The historic center of the city
lies around the Cathedral and includes La Almoina Square and La
Virgen Square, site of the old Roman forum. For a fantastic view
over Valencia, head for the Miguelete - the octagonal bell tower
lying atop the citys cathedral. The cathedral itself reflects
the citys rich architectural history with Gothic, Baroque
and Renaissance styles all featured. It is claimed that the Holy
Grail (Santo Caliz) - the gold cup used by Christ during the Last
Supper - is housed in the cathedrals museum. Valencias
town hall - the ayuntamiento - lies right in the heart of the city.
A palatial 18th century building, it houses two small museums and
is wonderfully lit up at night.
For those interested in art and
architecture, Valencia will not disappoint you. For an outstanding
collection of work by Valencian impressionists such as Sorolla,
Espinosa and Ribalta, dont miss the Museo de Bellas Artes.
Situated in the Jardines del Real, the museum is one of the best
in Spain and also features works by Goya, Velazquez and El Greco.
The baroque palace of Marques de Dos Aguas on Calle del Poeta Querol
is fronted by an impressive façade hand-carved in alabaster.
The palace houses the Museu Nacional de Ceramica.
After the taxing business of
sightseeing, head for the Playa de la Malvarrosa, the citys
main beach, or take a stroll in the Jardines del Real. Ideal for
picnicking, the gardens are also home to a zoological park, a rose
garden, and a sculpture garden. For shopping, head for the streets
around Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Walk around the Barrio del Carmen,
the oldest part of the city. Just west of the cathedral, it is home
to countless bars, cafés and restaurants. Enjoy paella, tapas,
and a jug of Sangria. This should set you up nicely for the evening.
Apart from the Barrio del Carmen, check out the Ciutat Universitaria,
the Plaza de Xuquer and the beach suburbs of Malvarrosa and El Saler
for a taste of what Valencia has to offer after dark.
Finally Valenicia is very famous
for its festivals. The most popular by far are the world-famous
week-long Fallas in March. On the appointed day, huge papier-mache
sculptures (catafalques) bearing cardboard figures are erected and
then set ablaze in festive bonfires as fireworks color the sky and
the smell of gunpowder fills the air. This lively celebration developed
from burning useless materials accumulated in local carpentry workshops,
but now local artists vie to create the most colorful and elaborate
monuments, only to quickly torch them in the wild celebration. Spectators
from around the world come to Valencia during this festival to experience
the magic and the charm the city and its people.
The other famous local festivals
commemorate the Christian reconquest of Valencia, with mock fights
between Moors and Christians following spectacular "invasion"
parades filled with authentically-dressed troops with appropriate
pomp and circumstance.
Without a doubt, Valencia is an ideal location
to learn Spanish and experience Spain.
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