Valencia: The City Where Old Meets New

Valencia: The City Where Old Meets New

Samia El-Balawi

Valencia, is a city as famous for the rice dish paella, as it is for its numerous historical sites scattered throughout. Over the centuries, it has fallen under the rule of the Romans, the Visigoths, the Moors, and even the English for a short period of time. As a result, Valencia is a colourful and historically fascinating place that is a monument to the diverse variety of architectural influences.

In the maze of streets that make up the area of Barrio del Carmen in the old town, there are buildings dating back to the Roman and Arabic eras. Valencia’s Cathedral is a prime example: a mixture of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neo-Classical architecture. Within the grounds, you can climb the 207 steps in the Miguelete bell tower to enjoy panoramic views across the city. La Lonja, formerly a silk exchange in the 15th century, is one of Valencia’s main tourist attractions, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. A bit further on and you come to the Mercado Central, one of Europe’s oldest and largest markets trading mainly in fresh produce.

To experience the modern side of Valencia, visit the City of Arts and Sciences. Opened in 1998, this is another major attraction. There are numerous parts to this building, including an opera house and performing arts centre. Perhaps the most visually attractive are the buildings designed to reflect the exhibits on display. The L'Hemisfèric was built in the shape of an eye and houses an IMAX, planetarium and laserium. The L'Oceanogràfic holds the largest open air oceanographic aquarium in Europe with a capacity of 110,000 square metres and resembles a water lily. But possibly the most impressive is the whale skeleton structure of the El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, an interactive museum of science.

You’ll never be short on choice for eateries in Valencia. There are over 2,000 restaurants within the city serving all types of cuisine. But while here, you must indulge in its local dish, paella, made of rice, vegetables and either chicken or rabbit. For some of the best paella in town, head into the old quarter, where you’ll find La Fonda restaurant. Here you can enjoy all forms of the classic dish; traditional, seafood or vegetarian versions, while sitting on the terrace overlooking the cathedral and Plaza de la Reina. Traditional Spanish fare can be had at Kaymus Restaurant where world-renowned Chef Nacho Romero creates delicious dishes using the freshest fish and seafood and where his signature dish of tripe with chorizo and chickpeas can be sampled.

There are several hotels from which to choose when booking your stay in this vibrant city. For a centrally located hotel, try the  Petit Palace Germanias Hotel, a 3-star establishment housed within a refurbished 19th century building providing modern amenities, including free wi-fi. In the Nuevo Centro district you will find the  NH Center Hotel Valencia, a 4-star hotel boasting its own rooftop swimming pool. Luxury 5-star accommodation is available at the  Westin Valencia Hotel with each room boasting a Jacuzzi, fireplace and balcony.

Situated near the beach in the area of Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias is the  Hotel Solvasa Valencia. Surrounded by lush gardens, this hotel is close to the local nightlife and many restaurants. The  Medium Valencia Hotel is also surrounded by landscaped gardens providing 100 rooms with full amenities. Our website has more Valencia Hotel Promotions as well as further sightseeing and activity tips.

The European Grand Prix will take in Valencia from 24 to 26 June, making this the perfect time to visit the city.

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