Valencia Founded by the Romans in 138BC and located halfway up the Spanish Mediterranean coast, Valencia is a city of non-stop energy. It has the cosmopolitan vibe of Barcelona, and the friendliness typical of Spanish nature added to which is the laid-back atmosphere of a beach town. It is known to be the home of the delicious paella and is now considered to be the home of the authentic ‘Holy Grail’. Valencia has benefitted from the recent city renewal which has lent a new edge to this vibrant city. Today the population totals in the region of 800,000 and is Spain’s 3rd largest city and the capital of the Comunidad Valenciana.
Although it has all the ingredients for a modern metropolis it has maintained its regional character and pride and is home to some of Spain’s most quirky and riotous fiestas, such the tomato hurling La Tomatina, the flower-pelting of the Batalla de Flores (Battle of the Flowers), there is even a fiesta dedicated solely to the setting off of fireworks – Las Fallas is a positive orgy of fireworks, blazing papier-mâché towers and firecracker explosions.
Not only is Valencia alive with fun and music it is a microcosm of Spanish architecture. There is the Gothic Silk Exchange, the Visigoth crypt of the Prison of St Vincent the Martyr and the Modernist masterpiece of the Mercado Central which doubles as one of the largest covered markets and that’s not all, there is so much more.
To walk through Valencia is to walk through a city filled with culture. There are over 40 outstanding museums, an eclectic collection of bars and restaurants, theatres and a historical quarter, the oldest part of which is El Carmen with its centuries-old narrow streets which are also the arena for Valencia’s nightlife.
Valencia’s Renaissance over the past few years was designed to attract international attention and boost tourism and Valencia now boasts such ultra-modern constructions as the City of Arts and Sciences with its collection of blindingly white futuristic structures one of which is a multi-function arts and music performance centre. And for those who like to get up close and personal with aquatic wonders, there is Europe’s largest aquarium.
Valencia is a city of contrasts and open-hearted people, so if you too are open and friendly you will be sure to find it reciprocated with warmth, openness, helpfulness and cheerfulness.
The cuisine of Valencia is the culmination of a mix of the traditions that existed in the centuries most of all the famous paella which first made its appearance more than 1000 years ago. Olive Oil was first introduced by the Phoenicians and its use continued in the preparation of the dishes by the Greeks, Romans and Arabs and comes from the olive groves of the higher country around Valencia. Valencia’s olive oil is the finest produced on the Iberian Peninsula.
Valencia’s wines from the sweet muscatel to the full-bodied reds and sparkling wines all have a well-earned international reputation. Every town from Jalón to Alicante has its own bodega (winery) and many world class vintages are produced in these family run wineries.
So if its diversity, you are looking for Valencia would be an excellent inclusion in your Spanish itinerary.