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Posted by on Nov 30, 2015 | 79 comments

Valencia: Old Town

Last week, I put together a post showing the modern part of Valencia, Spain’s third city.

Post commenters expressed a wide range of opinions.  Some of you liked the architecture of the City of Arts and Sciences but others didn’t.  There were references to aliens, spaceships and, even, Star Wars.  It was interesting to read all your thoughts.

Since last week was all about unusual shapes, white materials and turquoise reflecting pools, I want to use this opportunity to show you the other face of Valencia, the face that took me by surprise.

When visiting a city, I make every effort to stay close to what is considered the center.  In Valencia’s case, I booked a room in a small hotel located at the Ciutat Vella (Old City).

The hotel was located less than a mile from the train station, so, we decided to walk.  When we were about to cross the street to enter the ring that comprises the old part of town, I remember my husband looking back and shouting: “Look at all those buildings! We are surrounded by palaces.”

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

During our short walk, we saw wide avenues, dancing fountains, extensive plazas and palaces painted with the most beautiful pastel colors you can imagine.  We kept looking at each other while moving ahead.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

It didn’t take us long to drop the luggage and run back to the street.  Here are some of the things we saw.

Plaza del Ayuntamiento

The largest plaza in Valencia is the Plaza del Ayuntamiento; it is home to the City Hall on its western side and the central post office on its eastern side, a cinema that shows classic movies, and many restaurants and bars.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

The plaza is triangular in shape, with a large cement lot at the southern end, normally surrounded by flower vendors.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

It serves as ground zero during the Fallas. There is a large fountain at the northern end.

There are many grand buildings in the streets surrounding this large Plaza.  A quick walk can reveal many impressive details.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)

The Lonja, built between 1482 and 1548, was the place where the merchants use to meet, deal and sign.  The structure built in a late Gothic style was declared an UNESCO World Heritage site because it demonstrates the power and wealth that Valencia had during its golden trade years.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

The main hall, Sala de Contratacion (The Contract Hall) is an enormous, lavishly decorated space supported by gorgeous twisted columns. This was the heart of the building where most deals were sealed.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

I enjoyed taking a look at all the figures scattered around the building.   A lot of them were symbols of the sin and corruption that was banned from the building.  Traders were supposed to enter the Lonja to deal in an honest and honorable way.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Mercado Central

In front of the Lonja, you can find the Mercado Central, one of the largest of its kind in Europe.  This modernist building is not only gorgeous but it contains all sorts of produce, meat and seafood.  In addition, it has cafes and places that sell food ready to eat.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

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I am keeping my lips sealed about the Mercado because the place deserves and entire post.

Catedral and Plaza de la Reina

This Cathedral, which many believe is located at the center of the original Roman city, has seen plenty of changes during its lifetime.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

A Moorish mosque used to stand in its place.  However, a Bishop decided it was unworthy to convert a mosque into a church.  He laid the foundation for a Gothic church around 1262.  Another bishop made additions and King James I added the tower (El Miguelete).

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

More changes and additions were made between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

The Plaza surrounding the Cathedral is lively and full of cafes and restaurants.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Plaza de la Virgen

A stretch passage connects the Plaza de la Reina to the Plaza de la Virgen.  This Plaza has different views of the Cathedral.  Looks like one of the city’s top meeting spots.

IMG_7729

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Plaza Redonda

This unusual work dates from the 19th century. It was designed with commerce in mind – circular so as to form an enclosed area. Traditionally known as “el clot” (the hole), its lower floor is occupied by shops selling all kinds of items. On Sunday mornings there is also an outdoor market. The square is topped by three further floors with wrought iron railings and single balconies. There is a fountain from 1850 in the centre.

IMG_7713

Towers

Valencia has two, 15th-century towers which were part of the wall surrounding the city.

The Serrano Tower is located in the northeastern part of town.  It is an important landmark and one of the best preserved monuments of Valencia.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Nowadays, the Tower is open to the public. From the top, visitors can enjoy an amazing view of the city. The tower is featured in the opening ceremony of the Fallas. The Fallera Mayor declares the Fallas open from a platform erected in front of the building, which is followed by the singing of the anthem of the Valencian Community.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

The Puente de Serranos is located directly across the tower. From it, the old bed of the Turia River, which has been converted to a park, can be observed.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

The second surviving tower is known as the Cuart.  To me, this tower is more impressive than the Serrano Tower.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Horchateria de Santa Catalina

Horchata is a sweet, opaque drink made from pressed chufas (tiger nuts), into which you dip large finger-shaped buns called fartons.

All I can say is that this drink is delicious. Every time I had it, I had to go for seconds.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

The Horchateria de Santa Caterina, located in the Plaza de Santa Catarina (close to the Cathedral), is a great place to try the famous drink.  This horchateria has two centuries of history and also serves chocolate and artisanal ice creams.

IMG_7711

Other Areas

I will not have room in this post to mention all the monuments and museums located in Valencia.  There is plenty to discover when walking from one place to another.

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

Old Town or Ciutat Vella, Valencia, Spain

I am happy I was able to enjoy this beautiful part of the city.

Details

  • A touristic map can be obtained at the Visitor’s Center (Plaza del Ayuntamiento) or in your hotel. The map will point out the monuments and museums.  The Old Town is compact; therefore, a walking tour is feasible.
  • For those which prefer guided options, Turibus (big large buses) passes can be bought in several parts of the city.
  • Audio guides are available at the Lonja de Seda.  A video explaining the history and features of the structure is included in the admission price (for those who do not want to buy the audio guide).
  • The city is full of museums.  People with time available may have the opportunity to visit several.

Have you visited Valencia’s Old Town?

Pin it for later?

Get to know Valencia's Ciutat Vella or Old Town.  it is a place full of palaces, plazas and towers that where once part of the defensive wall.

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79 Comments

    • I was surprised by the amount of towers and architectural details on the roofs. I kept looking up during my stay.

    • The two parts of the city cannot be more different. Each has its own unique charm.

    • Stay tuned because I am going to devote an entire post to the market. It is one of the most beautiful I have seen.

    • Oh wow! Toledo is awesome. I still have to post about my experience there. I am sure you are going to love it.

  1. What gorgeous architecture. Such a wonderful city!

    • Thanks! We cannot deny that the town is full of grand buildings and impressive palaces.

    • Are you planning to visit Spain in 2016? That will be great! I am planning to go back and visit Portugal too.

  2. I would have giggled if I had to say farton out loud :) I like the contrast in Valencia’s architectural styles. The Star Wars buildings are unique as is Old Town. I think is shows Valencia’s many personalities.
    Andrea recently posted..Shipwreck Scuba Diving in ArubaMy Profile

    • You know, I didn’t think about how the word farton can be interpreted in English. But, yeah, it would be a bit embarrassing to explain to somebody what a farton is. By the way, they are delicious!

  3. What wonderful photos – the buildings are just stunning, especially against the blue sky. I suddenly seem to be reading more and more about Valencia, and it’s so tempting to visit. I’m usually more a fan of the old towns but it’s great that there are so many different sides to discover. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted..City Tripping #4My Profile

    • Valencia has a lot of offerings. THe architecture is great but there are beaches, parks and other small towns in the area. The food is good too. So, I think it is a very complete tourist destination.

  4. I like both old and new aspects of Valencia – the good thing is that the city is able to preserve and maintain the old part of the city while looking forward to the future with state of the art buildings too. I love your photos – they are spectacular!

    • Thanks Kat. This city has a lot of history. I even got lost reading about all the different empires that claim it. There is not doubt that you learn a lot when you travel.

    • Indrani, thanks to you for stopping by! Valencia is a city that needs to be visited and experienced.

    • Stewart, I get what you say. I prefer natural and outdoor experiences. However, cities have a way to pull me. I think it is because I enjoy history.

  5. Goodness – what a beautiful city! I had no idea Valencia’s old town had such gorgeous architecture. Thank you for sharing it! #TravelTuesday

  6. Valencia. What a surprise that is. I’m really impressed by the architecture, but to me the most remarkable part was those symbols of corruption that they had outside the Lonja. Maybe they should put some outside our modern government buildings as a reminder. :)
    Linda Bibb recently posted..How to Make French People Love YouMy Profile

    • Linda, that is a great idea! It is interesting to know that the people who commissioned the Lonja thought about the corruption involved in merchant deals.

  7. I was one of those in favour of the new buildings last week and I just love these as well. What I love about Spain is that their appreciation of all styles of architecture. I think it speaks volumes about their attitude to life and their tolerance.
    budget jan recently posted..Dicksons Inlet from the Deck of the Lady DouglasMy Profile

    • I like both parts of the city too. I agree with what you say about Spain. There is just so much variety there.

  8. What a fascinating place! I enjoyed last weeks photos – the bright, crispness of place – but I really love this old world charm. You’ve captured it beautifully!

    Thanks for joining us for Photo Friday with such amazing shots!
    Jen recently posted..Photo Friday – Exercising CreativityMy Profile

    • I wanted to post back to back posts about the old and new parts of the city in order to expose how different those two areas are. I like to read what part people prefer.

  9. WOOOOOOOOW! I LOVE the architecture and I couldn’t get enough of the history! I can’t wait to make it there some day, thanks to you! :D
    Trekking with Becky recently posted..Kobe LuminarieMy Profile

    • Thanks Becky! The area is full of interesting history. Hope you can visit one day.

  10. Wow, what amazing architecture! I have never been to this region but I know if I ever do I’ll walk away with about 10,000 photos of the beautiful buildings, lol.
    Karyn Jane recently posted..The Phi Phi Islands – Part 3My Profile

    • You are so right! I took way too many pictures. It wasn’t easy to narrow down what I wanted to post. That is why I had to put together some collages.

  11. Valencia looks like my kind of city – palm trees and beautiful architecture! Enjoyed reading about it Ruth!

    • Thanks a lot Jill! It feels great to walk around a city filled with palm trees (like many places in California). They had the orange trees everywhere!

  12. Amazing!!! We don’t visit cities very much at all, mainly because we are campers and hikers, plus we’re always broke. Your photos are just incredible, I may be changing my tune. I can’t wait to read more about the Mercado!
    Tara recently posted..Destination Washington: North Cascades National ParkMy Profile

    • Tara, I may be posting about the Mercado soon. It such an amazing place!

  13. Though I appreciate them, I’m not a fan of all the glass and steel that characterize the architecture we see almost everywhere these days.
    This is more my style. To me, this shows craftsmanship, passion and attention to detail – all the things that characterize a world that worked more with our hands making things that have a sense of permanence. I often wonder how many of those glass buildings will remain 50, 100 years from now.

    Thanks for showing me this side of Valencia as well — I knew it had to be there! I’d love to see it when I next I go to Spain.
    Marcia recently posted..Oxford, City of Dreaming SpiresMy Profile

    • Marcia, love to read your comments. The thing about old structures / monuments is that they were built before the digital age. All the calculation had to be made by hand and the actual work took many years to complete. We have to appreciate that type of craftsmanship.

    • Yes, the contrast with the modern part of the city is abysmal. You would not think the two areas are part of the same city.

  14. I just love old buildings too Ruth. Your photos are amazing, as usual! I think my favourite here is Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) – Wow!

  15. No I have never been to Spain, but it is on the list. The architecture is spectacular isn’t it. I could wander through these streets for days on end. Great photos Ruth.

    • Kathy, I can wander the streets for days too. There is a barrio I tried to find and couldn’t. So, there are places that I left undiscovered.

    • For what I have read, the Northern part of Spain is very rainy (I was not expecting that). When we went to the Basque Country, it was chilly and cloudy. It didn’t rain at all (gladly). At least, we had some sunshine.

  16. Oh, what a gorgeous town and what a gorgeous day you had in Valencia, Ruth! I love those intricate building façades and those medieval towers. Your pictures captured so well the street atmosphere. You made me want to go there right now.

    • Thanks Anda! I tried to do my best with the photos. The light wasn’t the best in some plazas and streets. At least, I was able to capture what the Old Town is all about.

    • Valencia’s horchata is totally different from Mexican horchata. Valencia’s version uses chufas (tiger buts). Mexican horchata is based on rice (and spices such as cinnamon are added). Each version has its own taste (to me, both versions are good).

  17. Stunning architecture! I had a fantastic time when I was in Valencia – about 10 years ago now! I remember going up the Sorreno Tower and wandering around the narrow streets and drinking in the plazas. Perfect! Thanks for sharing such a detailed post. I must go back! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • I wish I had time to get to the top of one of the towers. I enjoy taking a look at cities from a high top. I would have loved to take a look of the Old City from a high point.

  18. I was in Valencia just a few weeks ago with my husband, but we only had a day to spend there before catching an evening flight. It was just not enough! We chose to explore the old town, but there was so much to see. We’ll definitely go again next time we head down there, which might be sometime this winter!
    Rachel Heller recently posted..FATCA, the Tea Party and MeMy Profile

    • We were there two days and felt we could have extended out stay. I think the weather is fairly mild throughout the year. Therefore, it can be a nice winter getaway.

    • Thanks for stopping by Esther. Hope you make it to Valencia soon. I am sure you are going to enjoy the city.

    • Whooaaa! Didn’t know your husband has family in Spain. That is the best excuse to go. I believe you are going to enjoy the country.

    • Agree that you may have to go back. There is a lot to see and do.

  19. Fabulous photos – they are all so crisp and clear, and the colours are amazing. I especially like the buildings against the blue sky – very striking.
    Ruth Daly recently posted..Aphrodite’s RockMy Profile

    • Thanks Ruth! We were blessed with amazing weather. It was warm and clear. It felt very nice to walk around the neighborhoods taking a good look at all the buildings.

    • Sally, you have touched a good point. In Puerto Rico, we do not have big palaces or fairy tale like castle (we have defensive structures which are called castles). I think that is why I like castle so much too.

    • Thanks John. I am sure there is way more to see in the Old City. I was pleasantly surprised by everything I saw in there. Would love to discover more of the province.

  20. Stunning photos!! I still haven’t been to Valencia, but I have seen pictures of the modern part, and I honestly prefer the old town, it’s so pretty! I think I would stay there too :D

    Thank you for linking up with #MondayEscapes
    Packing my Suitcase recently posted..A walking tour in Notting HillMy Profile

    • A lot of people prefer the Old Town over the City of Arts and Sciences. I think the Old Town does not recieves the attention it deserves.

    • Thanks Rajesh! This is a hard to forget place.

  21. Hi! Your photos are very beautiful. I enjoyed your post very much. I went to Barcelona and Mt.Los Pirineosfor about a week few years ago. I have never go to Valencia. Thanks for sharing.
    Minoru recently posted..A THREE DAY TRIP TO SHIZUOKA,AICHI AND MIE 2/2.My Profile

    • Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do day trips from Barcelona. I want to go back one day and visit the Costa Brava, Andorra and the Pyrenees.

  22. walking is certainly one of the best ways to explore a city. So thank you for this fascinating tour. And that drink looks so delicious! Happy travels and have a wonderful week ahead, and thank you for stopping by my blog this week.

  23. Absolutely awesome. I love grand building and halls like Sala de Contratacion that you showed. Doesn’t matter what the outside look like, if the inside is anything like that, I’m in!
    Hung Thai recently posted..Linger and explore the idyllic deep coveMy Profile

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