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City Trip: Things to Do in Valencia Old Town

City Guide February 8, 2024

 

 

Valencia, Spain, is a vibrant city that effortlessly combines the allure of ancient history with the zest of contemporary life. Its Old Town, a treasure trove of historical landmarks, exquisite architecture, and lively plazas, invites travelers to delve into its rich past while enjoying its present-day charm. Whether you're a history buff, a foodie, or simply searching for picturesque views, Valencia's Old Town has something to offer everyone. This guide explores the top things to do in Valencia Old Town, ensuring your visit is memorable and packed with authentic Valencian experiences.

Before we dive into the heart of Valencia's Old Town and its myriad attractions, let's talk about a practical aspect of traveling: managing your luggage. Roaming through the narrow, cobblestone streets and discovering hidden gems is best-enjoyed hands-free. This is where Nannybag comes into play. Offering secure and convenient luggage storage across the city, Nannybag allows you to explore without being weighed down by your bags. Simply drop off your luggage at a designated location, such as luggage storage at Valencia airport, and set out to worry-free explore Valencia's enchanting Old Town.

 

Explore the Heart of Valencia Old Town

Venturing into the heart of Valencia's Old Town is like stepping into a vibrant tapestry of history, architecture, and culture. Each corner of this historic area tells a story, and every street showcases the city's rich past and bustling present.

 

Nannybag - City Trip: Things to Do in Valencia Old Town

 

Plaza de la Reina

Your exploration should rightfully commence at Plaza de la Reina, a pulsating square that forms the core of Valencia's social and historical life. This square is a visitor meeting point and a launchpad into the city's architectural and culinary delights. Dominating the plaza is the Santa Catalina Church, a splendid example of Gothic architecture, whose bell tower rises majestically against the skyline. Climbing this tower offers an unparalleled 360-degree view of the city, capturing the essence of Valencia from above. The various cafes and restaurants lining its perimeter further enrich the square's ambiance, inviting you to taste local dishes and the famous horchata, a refreshing traditional beverage.

 

La Lonja de la Seda (The Silk Exchange)

Just a short walk from the bustling plaza is La Lonja de la Seda, the Silk Exchange, a monument to Valencia's Golden Age as a mercantile powerhouse. Its Gothic architecture, characterized by soaring columns and elaborate stone carvings, evokes the prosperity of the era in which it was built. The Hall of Columns, with its impressive spiral columns and vaulted ceiling, is particularly awe-inspiring, reminiscent of the grandeur of medieval European trade. Visitors with the Valencia Tourist Card can enjoy the benefits of free entry and an opportunity to savor local tapas, making the experience both educational and gastronomically satisfying. Valencia tourist card free tapas? We're in!

 

Valencia Cathedral and the Holy Grail

Nestled near the bustling Plaza de la Reina, Valencia Cathedral is a testament to the city's rich tapestry of history and faith. This architectural marvel is a fusion of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque styles, reflecting the various epochs of Valencia's storied past. Its significance is further heightened by the claim that it houses the Holy Grail, believed to be the cup from which Jesus Christ drank during the Last Supper. This claim infuses the cathedral with mystery, drawing pilgrims and curious visitors worldwide.

The Miguelete Tower, an integral part of the cathedral complex, invites visitors to ascend its spiraling staircase. Reaching the summit rewards climbers with sweeping panoramic views of Valencia, offering a bird's eye perspective of the city's historical landmarks and the Mediterranean Sea beyond. The cathedral also offers guided tours, providing a deeper understanding of its religious significance, architectural beauty, and the fascinating story of the Holy Grail. These tours unveil the cathedral's artistic treasures, including Renaissance frescoes, Gothic statues, and intricate altarpieces, making it a cornerstone of cultural exploration in Valencia.

 

Quart Towers and Torres de Serranos

The Quart Towers and Torres de Serranos are monumental reminders of Valencia's medieval fortifications. These imposing structures once formed part of the city's defensive walls and now symbolize the endurance of Valencia through centuries of history. Visiting these towers offers a unique opportunity to walk through the same gateways that knights, merchants, and citizens passed hundreds of years ago.

Climbing the towers provides a physical ascent and a journey through time, culminating in breathtaking vistas of Valencia's urban landscape and the remnants of its historic walls. The strategic positions of these towers were crucial in the city's defense and now offer visitors a chance to grasp the scale and significance of Valencia's historical urban layout. The Quart Towers and Torres de Serranos are essential stops for those interested in military architecture and the historical context that shaped Valencia.

 

Plaza de la Virgen and the Turia Gardens

The Plaza de la Virgen is a serene enclave that captures the essence of Valencia's ancient roots. With the Turia Fountain at its center, symbolizing the river that nurtured the city, and the Basilica of the Virgin presenting a revered image of the Virgin Mary, the square is a focal point of Valencian spirituality and community life. It is a place where history, art, and faith intertwine, offering visitors a tranquil space to reflect and admire the surrounding architectural beauty.

The Turia Gardens offer a lush escape from the urban expanse just a short walk from this historic square. Created in the old Turia Riverbed, this extensive park is a green belt that wraps around the city, providing a recreational paradise for residents and tourists alike. The gardens are a testament to Valencia's innovative spirit, transforming a potential disaster area into a vibrant public space. Here, cultural events, sports, and leisure activities coexist harmoniously, making the Turia Gardens a central part of Valencia's social and cultural life, bridging its past with a dynamic present.

 

Marqués de Dos Aguas Palace

The Marqués de Dos Aguas Palace is a monument to Valencia's opulent history, its façade a masterpiece of Baroque artistry. The palace, now home to the National Ceramics Museum, showcases the splendor of Spanish nobility with its richly decorated interiors and an exquisite collection of ceramics. The museum not only displays pieces from Valencia but also features ceramics from across Spain and beyond, providing visitors with a comprehensive overview of the evolution of ceramic art. The palace itself, with its intricately carved alabaster entrance, is a testament to the craftsmanship and artistic vision of the Spanish Baroque period.

 

 

Plaza del Ayuntamiento

The Plaza del Ayuntamiento is the pulsating heart of Valencia, a grand square surrounded by some of the city's most iconic buildings. The City Hall, with its imposing facade, and the Central Post Office, an example of early 20th-century architecture, frame the square as the epicenter for many of Valencia's public celebrations and events. From the vibrant Fallas festival to the enchanting Christmas markets, the plaza is a focal point of Valencian life, buzzing with activity and adorned with flower stalls that add color to the cityscape.

 

Explore Arts and Sciences

Venturing outside the Old Town, the City of Arts and Sciences offers a glimpse into Valencia's futuristic ambitions. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, this architectural complex is a bold statement of modernity and innovation. The Hemisfèric, resembling a giant eye, captivates visitors with its IMAX cinema and planetarium shows. The Science Museum, with its interactive exhibits, encourages exploration and learning across all ages. The Oceanogràfic, Europe's largest aquarium, immerses guests in the wonders of marine life, from Arctic to tropical ecosystems. This complex is a showcase of architectural brilliance and a testament to Valencia's commitment to education, culture, and environmental awareness.

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