City of the Arts and Sciences
This is most definitely Valencia’s number one attraction now and has more than 4 million visitors each year. The City of Arts and Sciences has four main areas: a planetarium, a science museum, an aquarium and an auditorium where various musical events take place at different times. It has more than enough to keep all the family entertained for a full day.
How could we have a page on things to see without mentioning a city’s Cathedral? The particular claim to fame of Valencia cathedral is that it has reputedly been the home of the mythical Holy Grail (the chalice Jesus used at the Last Supper) for the past 500 years.
In Plaza Zaragoza where the Cathedral stands is an unfinished 47m Gothic tower called the Miguelete which dates back to the 14th century. It’s well worth climbing the tower to get a great view over the city towards the agricultural (huerta) lands beyond.
Art Galleries and Museums
The Instituto Valencia de Arte Moderno (IVAM) contains an impressive collection of Spanish modern art and was responsible for firmly adding Valencia to the list of European art centres. It lies near the Torres de Quart, 15th-century towers which face towards Madrid and guard the entrance to the city. You can see marks at the top of the tower left by cannonballs fired by Napoleon’s troops during the 19th century invasion.
The Museu San Pío is a fine collection of art with a particularly Flemish and native Valencian flavour. It includes works by Velazquez (look for his self-portrait of 1640), Goya, Bosch, Morales, El Greco (St. John the Baptist), Ribera, Murillo, and Sorolla.
The Museu de Belles Artes has one of Spain’s best general collections and includes works by Velazquez, Goya, El Greco as well as plenty Valencia modern art.
There is an interesting Museu Fallero with some of the best creations from the previous Fallas festival which allowed them to escape being burnt.
The Valencia region is the capital of Spain’s ceramic industry most notably as the home to Lladró porcelain. An interesting museum is the Museo Nacional de Cerámica which has examples of ceramics from all over the world.
The Silk Exchange
This beautiful former silk exchange (La Lonja de la Seda) was built in 1498. Today it is a Unesco World Heritage site.
Palau de la Generalitat
This is a 15th century Gothic building which is the government building of the region of Valencia.
The city’s central market dates back to 1928. It is well worth a visit to experience the hustle and bustle as shoppers and traders go about their business among a fascinating array of fruit, vegetables, meat and fish stalls.
Valencia’s Plaza de Toros is one of the largest bullrings in Spain. It lies next to the train station at Calle de Xátiva 28. Bullfights take place every day during the Fallas festival in March though tickets are difficult to get hold of.