Visit Valencia – The City of Joy

You might be wondering where we got that nickname from. Well, we surely didn’t coin it for it was the Muslim rulers of Al-Andalus that called it “Medina bu-Tarab” (directly translated as “City of Joy”). With a metropolitan population of over 1.7 million, Valencia has the third-largest metropolitan area in Spain. Ranked a Gamma city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, it is one of the most important port cities on the Mediterranean (in fact it has the 5th-largest on the aforementioned sea). Founded by Roman consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus in 138 BC as Valentia, the city later succumbed to Muslim invaders in 711. Subsequently, following the expulsion of the Moors by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, it trickled back into the hands of the Christians. Situated upon the river Turia, on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, Valencia fronts the eponymous Gulf of Valencia.

Valencia is located within the bounds of the dry Mediterranean climate zone and thus it experiences only a minor degree of temperature fluctuation. Summers are hot and dry whilst winters are but cool (by no means cold). The lowest temperature ever recorded there was 4.3 degrees Celsius (and that is a record only experienced at night). Daily means never drop below 11 degrees and the sea is always forgiving. Winter sea temperatures range between 15-16 degrees whilst summers bring in the warm tides (poetically speaking) with sea temperatures between 26-28 degrees. If you are not a friend of warmth, consider visiting Valencia in January when daytime temperatures range between 14 and 21 degrees.

TRANSPORT:

The Valencia Airport is the one serving Valencia’s metropolitan area. Handling more than 5 million passengers each year, it is but the eighth busiest airport in Spain. Also known as Manises Airport, it has flight connections to more than 15 countries in Europe. Located in Manises (as suggested by the alternate name), the airport serves as a hub for the Air Nostrum airline. What’s important to know about it is that it is located close to the Autovía A-3 highway (the one connecting Valencia to Madrid) and to the Autovía A-7 (the coastal route to Barcelona) – thus, it is extremely easily-accessible by car. Connections to the city itself are handled by the local MetroBus bus system that is affordable and convenient.

If you wish to move about the city in an efficient and time-saving fashion, we recommend that you use the Metrovalencia rail system. Connecting all proximal and remote suburbs with the heart of the city, it operates on 9 distinct lines and has over 137 stations (this includes 35 overground stations and 102 underground ones). To put its efficiency into perspective, let us tell you that the Metrovalencia rail system has reached 60 million annual riders. Consisting of more than 156 kilometres (in total) of track length, the system is run by the renowned Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana (FGV).

SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES:

We all know what the chief attraction of Valencia is. The City of Arts and Sciences, of course! Located deep within the heart of the city, it has been declared one of the “12 Treasures of Spain”. Situated proudly upon the former riverbed of the river Turia, the complex contains some of the most important landmarks of the city. These include the L’Hemisfèric (a planetarium, laserium and IMAX Cinema designed to look like a giant eyelid that can open and reveal the part of itself that can be considered the iris), the El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe (an interactive science museum that is shaped after the skeleton of a whale), the L’Umbracle (an open structure resembling a bridge and containing not only the world-famous Walk of the Sculptures but also a large variety of indigenous plants), the L’Oceanogràfic (an open-air oceanographic park – in fact, it is the largest aquarium in Europe stretching upon an area of 110,000 square metres and containing more than 42 million litres of water), the El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (an exquisite opera house containing four massive halls), the El Pont de l’Assut de l’Or (a cable-stayed bridge crossing the dried-out riverbed of the Turia), and, finally, the L’Àgora (a covered plaza used mostly for concerts, exhibitions, staging of congresses and sports events). Although we have only very briefly described the aforementioned components of the City of Arts and Sciences complex, we highly encourage you to spend a few days exploring each and every nook and cranny of it. We assure you that there is no other place like it around the globe educationally, architecturally or otherwise.

Next up, you should hop over to the Llotja de la Seda. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, the late Valencian Gothic-style civil building is, like the previous science complex, one of the most important landmarks of the city. Designed and built by the architect Pere Compte, it has also been designated a Spanish Property of Cultural Interest in 1931. Keep a lookout for the Hall of Columns, the Royal arms of Kingdom of Valencia and the ominous Gargoyles that decorate its surface.

The Serranos Gate (also known as the Serranos Towers) is something that cannot be left out if you wish to delve deeper into the historical meaning of the city. Being one of the 12 gates that used to form the Christian Wall around the city, the monument was built to adhere to the Valencian Gothic architectural style at the end of the 14th century. What’s interesting to know about it is that it is one of the most well-preserved monuments of the city.

CONCLUSION:

In Valencia you can bask in anything from the architectural wonders of the elder days to the masterpieces of modern man. Take time to enjoy its forgiving weather and have fun in one of the most iconic port-cities of the Mediterranean!

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