Valencia information

Introduction to the Province of Valencia
The province of Valencia is part of the autonomous community of the same name and is situated in the central south east of Spain, along the Mediterranean Sea. It has a coastline over 100km in length and its capital city, Valencia, is the third largest city in the country. It has a very pleasant climate, a rich history of fiestas and a highly respected gastronomy, making it a very popular holiday destination for both the Spanish and visitors from abroad.

Valencia City
Valencia is the capital of the province and the third largest city in Spain, after Madrid and Barcelona. It is a place that likes to celebrate and party at he slightest excuse and so there is always something going on to be enjoyed. Add to this a cosmopolitan atmosphere, fine architecture and monuments, good museums and a renowned gastronomy and you can see why Valencia is a popular place!

The oldest part of Valencia, the Barrio del Carmen, is the best area to begin an exploration of the city. The River Turia used to virtually enclose this part of the city but due to constant flooding, it was diverted and the old riverbed has been turned into a rather lovely park area, the Jardines del Turia, yet still with the old river bridges in tact. Here are also the stunning modern glass buildings (designed by that famous son of Valencia, the architect Calatrava) that make up the City of Arts and Sciences, including concert halls, the largest aquarium in Europe and an interactive museum of science.

In the Barrio del Carmen, you will find the Plaza del Ayuntamiento square with its illuminated fountain and pretty flower stalls, the extravagant Baroque Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas and the Renaissance Colegio del Patriarca (which houses an art museum). Valencia’s Cathedral is an impressive twin-towered edifice and fine views of the city can be had if you make the long climb up the Santa Catalina tower. The Cathedral has a museum, the Museu de la Seu, where on display is an agate and gold cup called the Santo Caliz, which was allegedly that used by Christ at the Last Supper.

Valencia is a great place for shopping and the enormous covered market, the Mercado Central, is one of the biggest in Europe. The city’s port was famously the host for the America’s Cup in 2007 and Valencia still hosts Formula 1 and Moto GP races every year.

Every March, Valencia hosts a huge, colourful and loud fiesta known as Las Fallas. Each area of the city builds a huge satirical figure, which is then paraded through the streets, judged and then ultimately set fire to, all accompanied, of course, by ear-splitting fireworks. Valencia pretty much comes to a standstill during this week.

Around Valencia City and Beyond
Many people come to Valencia for its beaches and there are many fine ones, including those at Benicassim, Castellon de la Plana, Peñiscola and Vinaroz, all north of Valencia city on the stretch of the Mediterranean coast known as the Costa Azahar. Benicassim plays host to a huge four-day international music festival every July, a sort of Glastonbury with guaranteed sunshine and camping on the sand instead of mud.

South of Valencia city, the coast becomes known as the Costa Blanca and there are yet more great beaches, including those at Gandia, Denia, Javea and Altea. And of course the famous town and resort of Benidorm.

There is more to Valencia than beaches though. If you venture inland you will find some delightful towns and villages, mountains and vineyards. La Albufera is a huge lagoon, home to thousands of migratory birds and rice fields. The Alto Turia Mountains are within easy striking distance of Valencia city and there are many signposted walking trails in the area. North of Valencia are the Roman remains at Sagunto, which include an amphitheatre where open-air plays are put on in the summer months.

The Gastronomy of Valencia
The dish that springs to mind first when thinking of Valencian cuisine is, of course, paella. Paella Valenciana, perhaps surprisingly, contains no seafood. It’s made from chicken, rabbit, green beans, butter beans, snails and artichokes and saffron is used to give it its distinctive colour. Other typical rice dishes of the region include Arroz al Horno (a paella-like dish, baked in the oven), Arroz a Banda (rice cooked with seafood), Arroz Negro (rice cooked in squid ink) and Arroz con Costra (a meat based paella topped with a baked egg crust). Fideua is a seafood and noodles dish, cooked paella style.

You should also try Fartons, which are sweet breadsticks and for a refreshing drink there’s Horchata de Chufa, a drink made from tiger nuts.


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