Spain, Spain … is a country that always amazes me. Unfortunately, when we think about going to Spain we usually think about going to Madrid and Barcelona but the country as way more to offer!
Andalucia, Murcia, Galicia and recently I have just discovered another part of this country: Valencia! It is a great city to visit, it is the third largest city in the country and to its beauty resides in the fact that it holds many, many different faces.
It feels like the city is situated on two floors with a huge, beautiful park on the ground floor which covers most of it and an urban life on the first floor. It has a futuristic impressive neighbourhood called the city of arts and sciences, a lively cosmopolitan charming historic city centre as well as an extraordinary natural parks on the outskirts.
It is impressive.
And yes there is something about the atmosphere and the architecture, that I find more charming than Madrid or the extra touristy Barcelona plus it is also way cheaper.
Here are the features that strike me most about Valencia.
Valencia, its historical centre, el barrio de Carmen
You can discover it by foot or by cycle it has a lot of colourful small, charming streets, it is also filled with street arts as well as great sights and gardens including:
- The Botanical Garden
- The Plaza de la Virgen and the Cathedral Quarter
- The Lonja de la Seda (The Silk Exchange)
- The Central Market and so much more to see.
Jardines del Turia
In this park, there was initially a river before the big flood of Valencia in 1957. It was inaugurated in 1986 and it is really special because of the variety of activities it offers. The Turia Gardens is one of the largest urban parks in Spain. It runs through the city. It is a huge green space, a perfect place to cycle, to run, have a walk or chill!
The city of arts and sciences
This part of the city is relatively new. It is really surprising compared to the rest of the city. It is a beautiful scientific and cultural leisure complex.
The natural parks surrounding the city: Albufera or Sot de Chera
I have heard a lot of Albufera which is a place of great ecological interest and a rich variety of wildlife, But my friend which is a native of Valencia suggested an excursion to Sot de Chara, a less well-known and touristy natural park and village. It was breath-taking. It felt like a paradise on earth. This village has retained a strong Arabic legacy and is really down to earth and there are so many other breath-taking places around the city.
Moreover, it also has distinctive neighbourhoods such as Campanar which has retained an Arabic heritage, beautiful beaches, cultural centres such as United minds and many festivals through the year which offer a unique atmosphere and a great way represents to emerge in the culture of the city.
I have learnt through this trip is that it is important to look beyond the most famous places in a country and to explore the outskirts of a city. Those are often precious. I mean next time I am heading somewhere I will try and look for a larger picture of the country for I am sure it has more to offer than what we usually talk about.
All pictures my own