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Blick auf Peñíscola in der Region Valencia, Bild: Lana_May

Valencia – The City of Joy

Valencia was founded by the Romans in 138 BC. Later, the Moors came and christened it “City of Joy” – an attribute that fits today more than ever: Valencia is not only making a name for itself with a bombastic cathedral, with the most beautiful European Art Nouveau market hall and a venerable city center – a visit to the Ciutat de les Arts i de les Ciències, the “City of Arts and Science” offers so many interesting things, that every visit will be a great pleasure.

Valencia, City Centre
The city center of Valencia, Image: ESB Professional / shutterstock

With more than 780,000 inhabitants, Valencia is Spain’s third-largest metropolis. The mild Mediterranean climate makes the Huerta, the fertile garden landscape around Valencia, the centre of Spanish citrus fruit cultivation. The harvests are exported all over the world from the port of Grao, together with other quality agricultural products such as wine and rice. Not only the large port in the east of the city, but also Valencia’s reputation as an important trade fair and congress centre contributes to the economic power of the province of Valencia.

Once Valencia was considered a tourist Cinderella in the shadow of Madrid and Barcelona – today a melange of diverse cultural offerings and futuristic architecture with Baroque, Gothic and unmistakable maritime attitude ensures the ever-growing tourist importance of the city.

Valencia – Between modernity and tradition

Valencia, Cathedral of Valencia
The square in front of the Cathedral of Valencia, Image: S-F / shutterstock

Interested guests recognize the magic of the architecture: it looks like the helmet of a strong warrior made of white ceramic and sparkling steel. Two oval bowls and a shield with a narrow gradient over the forehead protect the head, and sunlit dinosaur skeletons tell of an imaginary fight …

The harmonious, elegant architecture of the Ciutat de les Arts i de les Ciències repeatedly evokes associations with fairy tales and heroic sagas, or at least memories of organic structures such as wings, foliage and skeletons, which are typical of the designs of star architect Santiago Calatrava Valls. Perhaps the architect also had the cap of a dragon slayer in mind when he designed the “Palace of the Arts”. The 163-metre-long, 83-metre-wide and exactly 75-metre-high structure is decorated with trencadís .

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It inspires respect for art and nature in all visitors as they walk around the water basins of the complex. Together with the science museum, the planetarium and “L’Oceanogràfic“, this alone is worth a visit to the “City of Joy”. In addition, there is an impressive futuristic park that stretches over more than 350,000 square meters between the city and the port of Grao.

In this way, the third-largest city in the Spanish kingdom awakens its very individual departure into modernity, which it wants to find not only in culture but also in research. All this led to a colourful world full of contrasts on the beautiful Mediterranean coast, between particularly spacious beach promenades, technology records, the natural forms of a unique, sometimes cool-looking concrete and steel aesthetic and the ancient old town alleys.

After sightseeing, shopping and a day of swimming on the Mediterranean beach, many a holiday evening often ends in one of the beautiful terrace cafés or with a soft vino tinto in one of the tapas bars.

Valencia – Romantic longings

Valencia, Malvarrosa
The large beach Malvarrosa in Valencia, Image: Perart / shutterstock

Valencia is considered the home of paella throughout Spain : If you have the choice, you are spoilt for choice here too. Nowhere else are so many original variants of the Spanish national dish offered. They come from gigantic pans everywhere as saffron rice with chicken or rabbit, as well as wide and impressively thick green noodles.

Whether the delicate rice dish awakens romantic longings is probably in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless, romantic longings are fulfilled in Valencia – because where else will the visitor find an aquarium whose water basin in more than 42 million liters of salt water is home to all the ocean regions of the world or a grandiose cathedral with the octagonal bell tower El Micalet as a companion that is at the same time a harmonious combination of Baroque, Romantic and Gothic architecture? The Santo Cáliz, the chalice of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, will fascinate visitors and the mystical stories of the alleys, squares and palaces in Valencia’s old town complete the impression of perfect romanticism.

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A few days will tempt you to stroll away from the busy streets, where under old orange trees you will speak the much softer sounding Catalan dialect Valenciano in addition to Castilian Spanish. The market hall, the city gates, the bell tower and the silk exchange help with orientation in the labyrinth of winding alleys and a noble almond milk “Horchata” gives new momentum.

Mercat Central and Barrio

Everyone has to visit it: Valencia’s tile-adorned Mercat Central market hall offers all the specialties of the region from octopus to chorizo under its wide Art Nouveau roof. In addition to paella, seafood or fideuà pasta is also eaten – but never carrots and peas. They are branded as sacrilege by the Valencians – but they like to enjoy dried fish as an appetizer “esgarrat” and lots of red peppers.

The barrio, Valencia’s urban nucleus, is bordered by the drained riverbed of the Turia, by Calle Calón and by Calle Guillem de Castro. It divides the city over almost 11 kilometers and amazes all visitors even in the greatest summer heat with lush palm trees in lush green parks and gardens. Here, bridges still remind us of the former rivers, which were finally dried up after devastating floods in 1957. Because there should be no more disasters.

Valencia celebrates

Every year on October 9, Valencia celebrates the Day of the Autonomous Region. The descendants of the Castilian freedom hero El Cid celebrate a world-famous classical music festival on the evening before in honour of King Jaume el Conqueridor, who liberated Valencia from Moorish rule and granted the city autonomy after 1238. In and around the city, the folk festival is celebrated exuberantly, cheerfully and with many large fireworks. Not only then is Valencia the city of joy.