Valencia has had some bad press. Most people now have heard about the extravagant years when money was no object and bizarre buildings and projects were springing up all over the city. But to only see Valencia in this light is to do it an injustice. The buildings might be outlandish but the times were such that there was the opportunity to try something different and that was just what Valencia did.
Now, in Spain’s third largest city there is still much to see and a very special atmosphere to capture. The view might be slightly tainted with what we can see in hind sight but that should not stop people visiting these unique buildings or sampling the very vibrant day and night life that exists there.
For those people living outside of Valencia the most likely reason to visit is to see the Fallas. This annual celebration consists of the setting alight of the most elaborate bonfires imaginable. No piles of wood and old Guy Fawkes here but carefully and skilfully crafted giant effigies (ninots). Made out of wood and plaster, they are created to, literally, be destroyed on the night of the ‘Crema’. Another highlight event is ‘la nit del foc’ which is like an enormous firework display and very noisy too.
Every year the public have chance to vote on the one effigy or ninot that they like best. This ninot is saved from being ignited and joins others ‘saved’ in previous years in the Museo Fallero. It’s not just the ninots that add colour and decorate the city at this time of year. There are numerous streetlight displays which adorn the different districts all competing for the accolade of best decorated street.
The celebration attracts thousands every year from all over the world and anyone considering ‘dropping in’ to take a look should make sure they plan their living accommodation and transport carefully. It’s a wonderful experience and quite unique but needs forethought to make the most of this amazing event.
The City of Arts and Sciences
There is almost no need to enter into the actual arts and science buildings, you can just look at them. They are amazing in their architecture and together they represent an exploration of something different. You have a choice of venues to visit and can’t cover them all in the same day. Choose from:
- Hemisféric (IMAX cinema and digital projections)
- The Umbracle (a landscaped vantage point and car park)
- The Principe Felipe Science Museum (interactive science museum)
- The Oceanográfico (the largest aquarium in Europe)
- The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (operatic centre)
The Oceanográfico is a quite outstanding opportunity to see many types of sea life at very close quarters. The carefully designed tanks mean that you can watch as sharks swim above you and you feel as though you are the one intruding on their space.
The home of paella and much more
Valencia isn’t all spectacle. It’s rich history and traditions include more homely activities such as paella cooking and eating. Although paella is associated generally with Spain, its actual roots are claimed to be from the Valencian region. There are lots of versions of this traditional rice dish to try including Arroz Negro (rice cooked with squid), seafood, mixed and meat versions. Rabbit is a traditional paella staple so watch out for the bones.
As you would expect there is plenty to do in the evening in Valencia with the streets peppered with outside eating areas and bars and filled with the general hub bub of Valencianos socialising. There is also the port to visit and a number of beaches too, if that’s your preferred type of relaxing. El Cabanyal is a very atmospheric part of the city with its narrow, traditional streets.
Whatever your interests and preferences for a few days away, it is likely that the city of Valencia will more than meet your needs.