If you are in Valencia or you have already visited it, it may seem that 48 hours is very little time to visit the city. With this post I intend to draw you a detailed guide, and with the route that I propose to you, I promise, you will not miss any building or nice corner to see!
Here we go!
The route that we propose begins in the Torres de Serranos. From these ancient gates to the city you can climb up and from the top enjoy amazing views especially of the historic centre, entrance is €2 and on Sundays and public holidays access is free.
We continue the tour along Serranos Street, just behind the main façade of these towers. I love to stroll through these streets and and get lost along the many side alleys that surround them. I always discover a beautiful new facade and dream of olden times when horses and carriages where circulating through here…
At the end of this street is the Plaza de Manises where we can see the headquarters of the provincial Council of Valencia and the magnificent building of the Palace of the Generalitat Valenciana (current headquarters of the Government of the Valencian Community).
The Generalitat building has two towers seemingly equal even though they were built in different times. The cut between the new and the old building can be seen inside the building. If you enter and take a look around, you will fall in love with the incredible beauty of its rooms and the rest of the spaces of this historical monument.
We continue walking along the Caballeros Street and while we admire their beautiful palaces take a small detour at the Plaza of the Conde de Buñol towards Landerer Street. At the very end of this narrow street is a hidden gem, the “Portal de la Valldigna”, the door to the ancient city gate that separated the Christian side of the city to the Moorish quarter of Valencia.
Let´s return again to Landerer street and Cabelleros street and in just a few steps later, you will arrive at the Church of St. Nicholas of Bari and San Pedro Mártir or as we call it, «the Valencian Sistine Chapel». Certainly well worth a visit, after its restoration in 2016, their incredible fine art paintings leave no one indifferent.
Perhaps at this stage of the visit, you are beginning to be a little tired and need a little break to catch your breath (if we were together we would do it, so… why not suggest it to you in writing also!). In the area of the Plaza del Tossal there are many places with charm to have something, although I must say that personally my favorite is the Pilareta, a bar that was founded at the beginning of the 20th century that still conserves the decoration and furniture of that time, if you go, don’t forget to order their famous mussels («clóchinas») and taste some of their rich tapas or snacks.
With the energy from your «small snack», (it is always best to not go shopping hungry…) we shall move on to the Central market, one of my favorite buildings in the city, it is of modernist style and is one of Europe’s largest covered markets, a must visit.
Enter this building and I have no doubt you will find a delight for all your senses. Stroll through the aisles and enjoy the essence that emerges from its products: fresh, in season, fruit and why not, also taste: cooked meats, salted fish, chocolate… and of course horchata! (this we will discuss later…)
There are a host of colors and aromas that intermingle but are also embraced and welcomed by the beauty of this building, its architecture, its mosaics, ceramics in its walls, its two domes…
We must not leave before taking the usual picture of the main dome (of oranges) but do not forget that in the fish area there is also a slightly smaller size dome but equally beautiful, equally decorated with ceramic and whose drawings of fish indicate the area that is under its shelter, the fish area.
From the outside we can see that the Orange dome is crowned by a large weather vane, «La Cotorra de el Mercat», this figure is represented by a parrot (small parrot and magpie) symbolizing the talkative people since the market area was a typical place to talk and gossip. Another Dome, near the Church of los Santos Juanes, is the dome of the area of the fishmongers, decorated by a large swordfish.
We continue with our visit, and a short walk from the Central market, there is a wonderful building called La Lonja de la Seda and Consulate of the sea, declared a world heritage by Unesco in 1996, this was an old silk market in Valencia during the 14th to the 18th centuries.
It is one of the sights that should not be missed from the outside but also inside. The room of helicoidal columns that reminds us of Palm tree trunks, holding its main hall (Columnario or hiring Hall), with great elegance, while its high windows offer a wonderful backlights. Next door you will find the Patio de los Naranjos, here the sounds of the water from its small fountain will hypnotize you as you magically move will along with time…
If you enter into the garden and after go up cobblestone stairs on the side you will find the Consulate of the sea, the ceilings here are beautiful made of coffered wood and its floor in checkerboard black and white. Other rooms that must not forget are the Chapel, basements, etc. as well as different exterior doors and gargoyles that adorn the building.
Once again we return to stroll through the streets of the historic centre of Valencia, this time we will go to a very popular place, the Round Square.
From the Plaza de Mercat (Market Plaza) and then left onto Trench street we will find this little hidden and charming enclave. From Monday to Saturday, there is a beautiful display of embroideries, lace, gorgeous clothing for babies or memories of the city and on Sunday morning this plaza turns into a market for the exchange of cards for children and for the sale of ancient coins for adults.
From the round plaza we can see the Tower of Santa Catalina, the next stop on our route.
We leave the round plaza towards the Plaza Lope de Vega, beside a beautiful building with wall flowers, you will find the narrowest building in Europe and the second narrowest in the world. With only 107 centimeters wide, it is well worth a photo!
We will enter the Church of Santa Catalina by the facade in Plaza de Santa Catalina. It is a Baroque Tower and my favorite if you want to enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the historic centre.
Certainly if you don´t have much time, personally if I had to choose between climbing here or go to the Miguelete tower, I would choose to climb this tower because in addition to having fewer steps!!, you can enjoy one of the best views towards el Miguelete and the Cathedral.
If you begin to feel a little weak and tired, there is no better solution than a good horchata (or hot chocolate in winter) for example in La Horchateria Santa Catalina. This wonderful place may seem to be full of tourists but look a little closer and you will find lots of locals enjoying this Valencian treat.
A good horchata is not only to be had in this historical horchateria, there are many sellers around the centre that also sell it and it is always a pleasure to taste this typical Valencian drink made with the juice of chufa (small tubers). So drink like the Valencians do (or not)… but you cannot leave Valencia without tasting it!
We continue our route by the Plaza de la Reina, on the way to the Cathedral, or the Cathedral as we call it. On one of its sides we can find the Tower of Miguelete and along the exterior of the building we can see that there are three main gates that are of different styles (Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque), styles that match the times in which they were built due to the delay of the construction.
In my opinion, the Cathedral is another of the visits that you must not miss, many surprises hide this building, including, in one of its chapels is the chalice of the last supper of Jesus Christ (The Holy Grail) and on the main altar we can see frescoes (murials) discovered no doubt on a chance ride to heaven…
If you still have the energy you can climb el Miguelete tower, although I recommend you take a bottle of chilled water for the trip, its 207 steps!! It will take you a little while but there is no denying that the views from the tower are unique and on a clear day that can expect to see the Lake of Albufera.
Upon leaving the Cathedral we will go down the street from el Miguelete to Plaza de la Virgen, the epicenter of Valencia and ideal place for the most important celebrations of our city. This place represents the main source of the Turia River and its attributes are as beautiful as the Valencian women´s typical hairstyles.
Right in the Centre of this square we can find an epigraph written in latin on marble of the well-known Roman historian Tito Livio, referring to the Foundation of Roman courage in 138 BC.
Before continuing with our visit, we must not forget to visit a very special place for all the Valencians, the Basilica of the Virgen de los Desamparados, patroness of our city, without a doubt, place of worship for all Valencians.
In the same building of the Basilica, you can access by the square of the Almodí (blue frontage) is the Museum Mariano – MUMA, a museum with relics and ancient paintings of the Virgin Mary, where we can also see the Basilica from a different view a little unknown even to many Valencians.
Before embarking on your route to the shopping areas you should visit the Palace of the Marqués de Dos Aguas. If you have time, in addition to surrendering to its majestic facade, I would suggest that you go inside this building as it houses the National Museum of Ceramics and Sumptuary Arts.
The nearby Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) and the North Station, modernist… These are two other places that you definitely cannot miss!
[Shopping advice: the busiest streets for shopping in the Centre are Calle Colón, Paseo de Ruzafa, the Calle Juan de Austria and Jorge Juan and some nearby streets.] If you are looking for luxury shops you will find them on the street Poeta Querol and surroundings]
At the end of the Jorge Juan street, before arriving to Gran Via Marques del Turia, you will find the wonderful market of Colon, also of modernist style, it´s very special place where you can do some shopping, take something before going to dinner… or even dinner!
I hope that you have enjoyed my proposals for the first day, tomorrow paella awaits us next to the sea and a visit in to the future… are you ready?
Translation by Mark Grimes http://www.becenglish.com/